Bring Back Health to Holiday Meals | Keep it Healthy this Thanksgiving

Monday, November 9 2020 12:17 PM
By Ellen Healy

healthy holiday mealsWith all the Friendsgivings, holiday get-togethers, office parties, and the extra sweet treats baked back at home it can be hard to make it through the holiday season without adding an extra 200 – 300 calories a day to your diet. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we have some holiday health advice to help you stay on track and meet your fitness goals!

Use the following good-to-know, keep-me-strong kind of health tips to help you lean out some of the most popular and beloved Thanksgiving staples.

It’s time to bring back health to holiday meals!


Tips to Health-Up Your Holiday Favorites



When it comes to turkey, choose turkey breast without the skin to avoid adding extra saturated fat to your diet. Another way to lean out this protein is to use only olive oil spray, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs to season the outside, rather than using a ton of butter or oil.


healthy wild rice stuffingWhen you stuff the old bird, instead of bread, stuff with fresh vegetables, herbs, and apples. When the usual/more popular breaded stuffing recipe is baked inside the turkey cavity, it absorbs a lot of the fat that drips  - yes, that delicious, not-so-good-for-you kind of goodness. Choosing vegetables to stuff your turkey will help you avoid all that bread that’s been soaking in fat.

If that breaded stuffing is “a must” in your household though, just cook it in a separate dish and try to avoid recipes that use sausage or bacon. Choose non-refined starches like wild rice, quinoa or other whole grains, as opposed to white bread that is often low in fiber and high in refined sugar.


Mashed Potatoes:

Try making your mashed potatoes a bit differently this year. Instead of butter and cream, avoid some fat by using some of the water you used to boil the potatoes in. The starchy water will help you get that same creamy texture without all the fat. For flavor, choose fat-free sourcream, low-sodium chicken broth, or skim milk instead of whole milk.

Want to be the real all-star of health on Thanksgiving? Skip the mashed potatoes altogether and instead choose turnips or cauliflower to mash - all low-carb options that with enough rosemary, roasted garlic, and a touch of skim milk or nonfat Greek yogurt, you might just like the taste, dare we say, better?

Check out this awesome mashed cauliflower recipe that might become a new holiday favorite for you and your family!


When it comes to the gravy, baby, skip the turkey drippings and use vegetable oil instead. Yes, vegetable oil is still a fat but it’s less in saturated fat and cholesterol-free! When you refrigerate the leftover gravy, the fat will float to the top and harden as it cools. Once the fat hardens, scrape it off and then reheat before serving.

Green Bean Casserole:

Green bean casserole may sound healthy with a vegetable in its title, but the traditional recipe is packed with high amounts of sodium and fat. If you’re going to make it, just make it healthy and use fresh green beans instead of canned and use a cream of mushroom that is both low in fat AND sodium. Ditch the fried onions and top with thinly sliced onion instead.

Healthy and vegan green bean casserole, anyone? Check out this recipe that’s better for your health and tastes amazing. 

Desserts and Sweets:

It’s Thanksgiving! It’s okay to have a little dessert, just don’t go overboard and make smart decisions/alterations to your favorite recipes.

holiday sweets

When baking your favorite sweets and treats, substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg and replace heavy cream and butter with evaporated skim milk. When you do indulge in those holiday faves, just try to keep it small and remember your fitness goals. If you want extra brownie points - sans the “brownie” - skip the traditional dessert and opt for something different and much healthier for you, like low-fat, high-fiber, naturally-sweetened sweet potatoes. Top with a little honey and cinnamon, and call it a day.



Want more tips to keep you strong as you ride the holiday, temptation train? Read on for more!


1. Be mindful of portions

There is no need to overload your plate. Fear not! “Leftovers” are a thing and you will get a second date with your holiday favorites. When you do create your Thanksgiving plate, just be mindful of your portions. Know when too much is too much. A little trick? Put a tiny amount of each dish you want most on your plate. This way, you still get to taste everything you wanted to, but you won't go overboard or have too much. You’ll also have to reserve yourself if you want more, which might make you stop and think about whether or not you really need seconds or just want them.

2. Don’t come hungry!

Try eating a salad before heading to the family gathering to help curb your appetite. It’s way too easy to eat it all when it’s right in front of you and you’re starving. Snacking on some veggies before the meal might help you steer clear of stuffing your face at a record pace.

3. Seek support and find accountability

If you need some extra help, sit next to a fellow healthy eater or someone who typically eats slower than you to help pace your meal. If you have a friend or family member who is also trying to mindful of their eating and health, talk to them before and keep each other accountable.

You can do this!holiday family cooking

The year 2020 is one to remember, that’s for sure. But even with all of its ups and downs, there’s still so much to be thankful for! Although it might be tempting to just give in and throw up your hands saying, “this year was tough enough, I deserve all the sweets…” Don’t lose sight of your fitness goals! Meet them instead, and be grateful that we made it through this crazy year together.


We have every faith in YOU! Happy Thanksgiving! 







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