How to Make Your Thanksgiving Favorites A Little Healthier
Think there’s no way you can be on a diet and enjoy Thanksgiving? Well, think again! Most people would agree that the most quintessential element of any Thanksgiving is a spectacular menu. We all love filling our bellies with the classic spread of turkey, stuffing, pies, and a wide variety of sides and fixin’s, but these indulgences can have immensely adverse effects on our heart health. So many of the tasty Thanksgiving classics that we know and love are especially hazardous for our cardiovascular systems due to the high levels of sodium, fat, and sugar that plague the usual selection. Fortunately, there are many ways to combat these less savory elements. Small alterations to your favorite Thanksgiving dishes can make all the difference in the world. Here are some tips for how to bring your tasty holiday foods a little more to the healthy side of the table.
Let’s Talk Turkey
The grand, tasty turkey is always the star of the show at the Thanksgiving table. Turkey is a naturally lean meat, but there are a few key ways to make it an even healthier option. Many home cooks ruin its nutritional value by slathering butter and oil all over it before roasting, so to capitalize on the benefits, minimize your butter and oil usage. Opt for less fatty flavoring options such as an herb rub or olive oil.
Additionally, the gravy that you might be putting on your turkey negates the health benefits by adding a surplus of excess fat and sodium. Try healthier gravy options such as a vegetable-based gravy or one that incorporates more nutritious components like apple cider vinegar. Stepping up your gravy game can add some extra tasty flavor to your entire plate, and if you choose a smart option, you won’t have to worry as much about the negative health effects.
Stuffing, or “dressing,” is certainly a staple when it comes to your menu, but it’s often filled with excessive carbs, sodium, and sugars that your body simply doesn’t need. Try using whole wheat bread instead of white to get more wholesome carbohydrates as opposed to the processed sugar that plagues most white breads. Additionally, replacing the bread altogether with a cauliflower stuffing recipe can add even more value by eliminating extra carbs and adding in fiber and B-vitamins.
Classic Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is also a traditional favorite, but the canned product that you can buy from the store is loaded with added sugars and artificial ingredients. Make sure that you’re properly reading food labels and selecting an option without these added menaces. Or, even better, you can make your own cranberry sauce with less added sugar and fresher ingredients that will overall be much healthier than the processed version. Cranberries, when unsullied by artificial sweeteners are an excellent source of antioxidants as well as vitamins A, K, and C.
More Pumpkin Pie Please
Pumpkin pie is traditionally the most famous dessert on Thanksgiving, but it too often contains copious amounts of sugar and oils. This is especially true in premade, store-bought pies. To eliminate this, try making your own using unsweetened almond milk, egg whites only, and a recipe involving minimal sugar. For extra sweet flavoring, you can throw in a dash of extra cinnamon and nutmeg. Pumpkin also has amazing heart benefits that can be redeemed this Thanksgiving!
Staying Healthy During the Holidays
The holidays are a hard time to keep up healthy eating habits, what with all of the tempting food choices everywhere you look. Giving into these temptations during the holidays can make it easy to ignore a healthy routine for the rest of the year, so start planning your heart-healthy Thanksgiving dinner now!