5 Healthy Thanksgiving Foods to Keep You on Track and Eating Well

Dr. Sacha Obaid, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Serving Dallas, Plano, Southlake, and Nearby Fort Worth, Texas

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The six-week period from Thanksgiving to the New Year is full of delicious temptation, and for many people, it’s the hardest time of year to stick to a healthy eating plan. Staying on track, however, is no less important if you’re prepping for or recovering from a plastic surgery procedure. Good nutrition helps ensure you’re healthy for the physicality of your procedure, and it also helps you recover more quickly afterward.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of healthy Thanksgiving foods to help you stay on track.

1. Marvelous Mashed Potatoes

healthy thanksgiving foodsLoaded with butter and heavy cream, few Thanksgiving dishes are as delicious, or as laden with fat, as classic mashed potatoes. The simplest way to lighten the calorie load is to replace fat with flavor: Add roasted garlic and herbs, and substitute sour cream and skim milk for butter and cream to give plenty of rich flavor, as well as antioxidants and phytonutrients, without all the fat and calories!

2. Full-Flavored Candied Yams

Yams are a fabulously healthy vegetable—high in fiber, with lots of potassium, vitamin B-6, and vitamin C—but at Thanksgiving they’re not so healthy, thanks to the large amounts of butter and sugar they’re lovingly basted in.

This year try maple syrup or molasses rather than ordinary sugar, and brown the butter before adding it to the dish. These substitutes allow you to achieve a greater depth of flavor without using as much of those calorie-laden ingredients.

3. Vegan Creamed Corn

Another option for lighter and healthier Thanksgiving sides is to create vegetarian or vegan versions of traditional dishes. Think: delicious creamed corn, which uses nutrient-rich coconut milk instead of heavy cream to provide a luscious, rich texture.

4. A Lighter Green Bean Casserole

This classic Thanksgiving dish is loaded with creamy condensed mushroom soup and topped with fried onions, with plenty of added fat and sodium. It’s absolutely delicious but definitely not on the healthy side of things.

With just a few simple substitutions, however, you can make this dish healthier and tastier too! Use a low-fat and reduced-sodium cream soup, and bake the onions with a light spritz of oil instead of frying them to eliminate a large amount of sodium and fat and create a lighter dish that tastes great.

5. Veggie-Stuffed Stuffing

Stuffing is a must for the Thanksgiving table, but it comes at a hefty price in terms of calories and fat. Lighten up the classic stuffing by using low-sodium broth and substituting turkey sausage for pork and whole-wheat bread for white. Then include some extra veggies, such as kale or spinach, leeks or green onions, and squash, to add lots of fiber, nutrients, and flavor. This dish can easily be made vegetarian or vegan by omitting the sausage and using vegetable broth rather than chicken broth.

According to the Calorie Control Council, the average holiday meal delivers around 3,000 calories! Nearly half of those calories come from fat, and plenty more from sugar. On the bright side, that means there’s lots of room for improvement! Try these healthier versions of Thanksgiving sides—you may find they’re tastier than the originals!

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