Healthy eats for Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Can one prepare a delicious dinner and be health conscious at the same time? Absolutely! Here are some ideas.

A well-dressed salad is an eye-catcher and a satisfying beginning to any meal. A mixture of greens, such as spinach, arugula, and romaine create a fine bed for dried cherries or cranberries, chopped walnuts, mandarin oranges, and sliced red onions. Toss with flavored vinegrettes or wine vinegar and olive oil. This dressing will compliment the greens and not overpower their flavor.

As a side or salad, one of my favorites is broccoli slaw with a mix of fat-free plain yogurt and a favorite slaw dressing, adding just enough to lightly coat the slaw. This can be made more festive with dried fruit and chopped nuts, also. A tart, diced apple will add even more flavor and texture.

Twice-baked potatoes are a tradition in some households at holiday time. These can be prepared with low-fat versions of sour cream and cream cheese and the low-sodium version of chicken or vegetable broth without sacrificing flavor. A sprinkle of paprika before baking will add color, too.

If the family prefers sweet potatoes, try baking these vitamin-packed veggies in the skins instead of the usual high-calorie, high-sugar recipes with marshmallows. Whether mashed or served individually, a little brown sugar and chopped pecans added to the potatoes can make them just as yummy as the higher calorie versions.

Instead of the usual green bean casserole, how about oven roasting Brussels sprouts, squash, or green beans? Both white and sweet potatoes would take well to roasting, too.

On to the turkey. How about basting the turkey with broth or juice? Orange, apple, cranberry—these all add great flavor. Or, make several slits in the skin and tuck in favorite seasonings. Garlic, thyme, and rosemary are just a few that work well with fowl. For the stuffing fans, lighten it up a bit by omitting the butter in the recipe and moistening the bread with low-sodium broth instead. Try using half whole wheat bread cubes and again, add some herbs for flavor. If the recipe calls for sausage, give the lower fat turkey sausage a go. Brown and drain sausage first before adding to the bread mixture.

And dessert! Yes, this part of the meal can be a tad more nutritious, too! For example, the traditional pumpkin pie turns out perfectly yummy using fat free sweetened condensed milk instead of the full fat version. The typical recipe with 2 eggs can be altered to 1 egg and two egg whites. To reduce the fat further, make the pie with a graham cracker or gingersnap cookie crust. Or try Frozen Pumpkin Mousse for a twist on the traditional.

There are many ways to make nutritious and tasty additions to the holiday meal that the family will enjoy.