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5 Healthy Alternatives for Thanksgiving Dinner

For many people, the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until New Year’s Day. Holiday festivities inevitably mean plenty of food—but not always the most nutritious items. To keep your diet and health in check over the Thanksgiving holiday, plan a tasty and nutritious meal with these healthy alternatives for Thanksgiving dinner.

Swap Cranberry Sauce for Cranberry Relish: That can of cranberry sauce you open at Thanksgiving is full of sugar, corn syrup, and other added sweeteners. Even exercising portion control may not help — just a fourth of a cup of the canned stuff can have more than 100 calories! This year, skip the added sugars by making your own healthy alternatives. Simmer two cups of fresh or frozen cranberries with one to two chopped apples or pears, a tablespoon of orange zest, and the juice from one orange. The berries will pop open and the mixture will thicken after about 10 minutes. Add only as much sugar as needed to keep your mouth from puckering.

Skip Full-Fat Dips, Eat Yogurt Dips: If your Thanksgiving dinner is scheduled for later in the afternoon, don’t waste calories on dips, chips and salsas! Reduce the fat content of your favorite dip by substituting low- or fat-free yogurt in recipes that call for sour cream or mayonnaise (your guests won’t know the difference!) Serve with fresh vegetables or whole grain crackers. The calorie savings from even a few small scoops will quickly add up!

Do Away with Dairy: Whether it’s in the sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie, dairy plays a large role in most Thanksgiving dinners. For many people, especially those opting for healthier eating, the vegan, or the lactose intolerant, dairy poses a dietary threat. If you’re looking for healthy alternatives, coconut or almond milk provides a creamy, healthy substitute to any dish or dessert that requires milk or cream as an ingredient. Plus it’s low in calories, rich in Vitamins A and E and electrolytes, and is a natural immune system booster. It’s time to say “bye-bye” to dairy!                              

Replace Mashed Potatoes with Cauliflower: Mashed potato dishes can be comfort food for your taste buds, but definitely not for your abs. Fortunately, by making a simple healthy substitute, you can enjoy a similar taste and texture with a much lower calorie price – using cauliflower. Not only do you end up with less calories, but the benefits include a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins C, B6 and K, folate and manganese! Don’t be afraid to get creative by adding additional ingredients such as garlic, parsley, sage or rosemary.

Trade Bread Stuffing for Quinoa Stuffing: Nothing quite says Thanksgiving like a side of warm stuffing! But buying a side dish that comes almost prepared from a box? Let’s rethink this! Tangy apples, roasted sweet potatoes, and nutty quinoa create a hearty, healthy alternative to Thanksgiving stuffing, sans bread. Hazelnuts add crunch while dried cranberries contribute a chewy sweetness. This healthy version has less fat, more fiber, more flavor, and definitely won’t go unnoticed! Get the recipe here.

Avoid the dreaded food coma this Thanksgiving by trying some healthy alternatives to your favorite side dishes. Which will you try this Thanksgiving? Share your thoughts below. 

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