7 Tips for Preparing a Healthy Thanksgiving Meal

Planning and preparing a delicious Thanksgiving meal can be fun – but it can quickly turn into fattening! We’ve scoured our resources to find seven great tips to help cut down on fat and calories in your holiday meal – without cutting down on flavor. Try them and see what you think.

  1. Cook with natural foods and ingredients like the Pilgrims did. Avoid processed foods and opt for fresh or frozen rather than canned vegetables. Stay away from creamed soups in cooking. And don’t forget fresh fruit – the perfect complement for any meal.
  2. Most people spread butter all over the turkey before roasting or baking. But you can prepare a delicious, moist turkey without the added calories and fat from butter. Just be sure not to overcook a turkey which is what usually causes it to be dry. Instead of slathering the bird with butter, rub a small amount of heart-healthy olive oil and freshly chopped herbs on the skin. Add a couple of stalks of fresh celery and orange slices to the pan when cooking to help retain moisture.
  3. Many turkeys come already brined – meaning they’ve been soaking in a solution of “something” and it likely includes more salt than necessary. You can brine your own turkey with less salt and no unnatural ingredients to cut down on sodium and let the natural flavors come through.
  4. When making your stuffing, opt for fat-free chicken broth or your own homemade vegetable broth for moistness. It’s healthier than using lots of butter. You can also use broth in casseroles or for cooking fresh vegetables – forgo the butter and use fresh herbs with broth to punch up flavor. And don’t forget to add lots of chopped, fresh vegetables for increased nutritional value and flavor. Winter root vegetables, cranberries, and other veggies are delicious in stuffing.
  5. Watch the sugar in recipes. Most recipes call for more than is needed and you can usually cut down by almost half. Brown sugar is also a better alternative than refined white sugar when possible. And even better? Use honey or maple syrup as a natural sweetener. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables are naturally sweet and really need no help being delicious.
  6. Substitute fat-free or reduced-fat milk for whole milk in recipes. They’ll never notice the difference!
  7. Pies are a Thanksgiving “must”! Make them a little healthier (is that possible?) by using a graham cracker crust in place of traditional butter-laden crust.

Roasted root vegetables.

One more often over-looked healthy tip for Thanksgiving Day – don’t skip breakfast or you’ll set yourself up for disaster. Pulling up a chair to the Thanksgiving table after fasting all day will cause you to over-eat and feel bloated and miserable later. Pace your eating throughout the day and eat a little protein at breakfast. Have a light lunch if your big holiday meal is dinner. You’ll feel better all day long.

After Thanksgiving meals are served, it’s time to head outdoors for a brisk walk with the family. The perfect ending to the perfect meal!