Now that Halloween is over, it’s time to move on to our next celebration! Thanksgiving is one of the most beautiful and meaningful holidays, in my opinion. It is the time to give thanks for our health (at any stage is better than none!), our families, friends and everything else that’s important to us.
It’s also time to plan a celebration! Easter and Halloween is for candy, Christmas is for gifts, Fourth of July is for BBQ’s and Thanksgiving is for FOOD! However you don’t have to toss your diet out the window, nor do you have to skip out on your favorite traditional treats.
Below I put together some awesome alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Let’s just call it your classic Thanksgiving meal with flair. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, this will be a cinch for you. If you’re attending Thanksgiving somewhere else, it’ll be a little more tricky and I’ll explain more about that later later.
The host often wants food prepared for when the guests arrive. This way the guests have food to munch on while they wait for the main course. Instead of the usual fatty crackers and cheese or chips and creamy dips, opt for a healthier version. Instead put out some multi-grain crackers with hummus and raw veggies. Another great idea is roasting bell peppers, mushrooms and onions- brush a little olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of pepper and have yourself a delicious spread for the crackers.
Beggin’ for More Side Dishes
We all know the deal- you could practically serve butter alone as a side dish on Thanksgiving because it seems like every side on the menu has a huge amount of butter in it. Butter, a long with salt, oil, grease (can we say Crisco?) are never a reason that food should taste good. These side dishes don’t have that junk and still taste just as good- if not better!
For every 1 cup of mashed potatoes, it’s 256 cal, add 8 cal for ever tsp on gravy. Ditch the mashed potatoes and replace it with home-made smashed sweet potatoes. Boil the cubed sweet potatoes until soft then smash them and add a pinch of ground cinnamon. This will also replace candied yams! I recommend skipping the stuffing all together, because every 1 cup is 358 calories. But if you must have it, use this recipe instead: Boil Quinoa and mix with a ton of diced veggies. Bake in the oven so all of the quinoa gets covered in the veggie juice. Remove when thickened.
Green bean casserole is a tradition, but also 275 cal. There’s a way to knock down the calories and spruce up the taste. Saute green beans in a little olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper. When it’s cooked thoroughly, combine green beans, sauteed mushrooms and onions in a casserole dish. Sprinkle sliced almonds to add crunch and bake.
Light and Sweet Deserts
This is my mother-in-laws home-made strawberry pie recipe, so shhh, don’t tell her I told you. It’s low-calorie and even lower sugar! Start with a multi-grain crust (don’t make that face, you won’t be able to tell the difference) and fill it with sliced strawberries. Add to that the mixture of sugar-free strawberry Jell-o. Let cool and harden in fridge and add low-calorie whipped cream on top. Simple, huh? Sure is better than the 450 cal for a slice of apple pie! If your weakness is pumpkin pie, then go for it. It only comes around this time of year and it’s only 150 cal.
When you’re attending another person’s Thanksgiving dinner, it’s hard to detect what is exactly in the food. Like restaurants, just because it looks or sounds healthy, doesn’t mean it is.
How to Eat as a Guest
- Eat a small meal before you go in order to not indulge in bad foods.
- Be a good friend and bring a side dish/snack to the party that is healthy. You’ll look like you have the world’s best manners and you have at least one healthy thing on the table.
- Keep your dressings, condiments and sauces on the side
- Steer clear of alcohol and soda
- Eat white meat turkey and take off the skin
- Pass on all bread- cornbread, rolls and/or muffins
- Fill your plate first with turkey and veggies/salad. Then there’s less room for unhealthy food
This is the time of year to be thankful for what we have and cherish our friends and family. Have fun and remember that it’s almost time for that little black dress for the holidays. Keep your health and fitness goals a priority. Enjoy!