Healthy cooking tips for a Thanksgiving feast

Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is a special day to cherish time with loved ones and reflect on what we are thankful for. But Thanksgiving is also a time that many of us indulge in our favorite comfort foods.

“There is nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite stuffing and pouring a little extra gravy on your turkey this Thanksgiving,” says Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Outpatient and Community Liaison Dietitian Allie Lang, RDN, LDN. “But there are ways to make the meal healthier for you and your guests, especially those with diabetes or heart disease, and still make it delicious!”

Below are tips that Lang says are simple to implement and that don’t sacrifice flavor:

Swap the extra salt for more herbs and spices

Herbs and spices can add flavor without adding sodium. Try going light with the salt and seasoning your turkey and stuffing with savory herbs and spices such as thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage and freshly ground black pepper. 

Go easy on the alcohol

Alcoholic beverages can be heavy on sugar, carbohydrates and calories. Craft beers can be especially heavy with up to 300 calories per bottle. Spritzers and lighter beers are a great lower calorie alternative. 

Switch up your mashed potato recipe

Instead of mixing in butter and cream, try low fat sour cream or milk to add creaminess to your recipe with less saturated fat and calories. You can also mix in some mashed cauliflower to lower the calories as well. 

Offer healthy sides

Steamed or roasted vegetables are perfect for your Thanksgiving meal and add some healthy options to the mix. Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, turnips and squash are examples of nutrient-rich fall seasonal vegetables. 

Portion control is key

With all of your favorite comfort foods and desserts in front of you, it can be difficult not to pile your plate high with large portions. If you scale your portions back and savoring each bite, you may be satisfied with less food. 

These simple tips can greatly reduce the amount of sodium, calories and unhealthy fats you consume this Thanksgiving, without sacrificing flavor. Remember to enjoy every bite of these special comfort foods that bring us together and remind us of what we are thankful for. 

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