Thanksgiving is a special meal, so feel free to indulge yourself and even overeat. No one can eat perfectly all the time, and what better time to enjoy yourself fully than Thanksgiving. If, however, you’re going to treat yourself, be smart about it. Whenever possible use wholesome ingredients, rather than canned, boxed, or processed items. And substitute healthy ingredients for items that are not good for you.
Cranberries are a traditional side dish that can be made from scratch with ease. Rather than using canned cranberries that are packed with preservatives, pick up a bag of fresh cranberries. Boil them down with lemon juice, orange juice and raw sugar, and you will love this all natural, sweet alternative (see Chef Mike’s great fresh cranberry sauce recipe).
Your family deserves the best, so why go with boxed stuffing when it’s easy to prepare stuffing from scratch. Start out by boiling fresh vegetables in low sodium chicken stock, add cubed whole wheat or multi-grain bread, throw in chicken or turkey sausage and bake in the oven.
Mashed potatoes have a reputation for being a “gut buster.” You can alter them, making them more healthful, without anyone tasting the difference. First, throw in fresh herbs, such as chives, for color. Rather than loading up the potatoes with butter, use a combination of reduced fat milk and buttermilk. Sweet potato casserole or candied yams are also another favorite side dish. Try a nutritious sweet potato soufflé instead. Boil, peel, and whip sweet potatoes with egg whites, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fold in heart-healthy roasted pecans or walnuts and bake the soufflé in the oven. Once you taste this delicious side dish you will forget about the marshmallow topped candied yams.
So enjoy yourself this Thanksgiving and don’t worry about counting calories or watching your portion size. A few wellselected ingredients will turn your feast into a fresh and healthy meal that everyone will love and remember.