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We all know Turkey can be an excellent lean source of protein. But Thanksgiving Dinner is not just about the turkey! In fact, the side dishes that many have come to expect can be just as healthy as the main dish. Thanksgiving is a holiday highlighted with a feast of fabulous food, but it can quickly turn into a buffet of calories and fat if you’re not careful. This year, enjoy your favorites guilt-free and consider these calorie-saving, healthier alternatives for your traditional sides.
Can-Do Dish Without The CAN: More and more research has shown that there are dangerous chemicals in the liners of canned foods. BPA is used to make the lining that forms a barrier between food and the metal, which prevents bacterial contamination, but can leach from the resin into the food. This is dangerous because exposure to BPA has been linked to cancer, infertility, and type-2 diabetes, to just name a few. Skip the canned cranberry sauce this year and make a simple homemade sauce. All it takes is three ingredients: cranberries, sugar and water. Cook on the stovetop, and let it thicken and cool in the fridge. This can be made ahead of time and is almost as easy as opening a can!
Not Your Mama’s Mashed Potatoes: Mashed potatoes can be found on most Thanksgiving tables, but if it’s the recipe your mom or grandma used, there’s likely to be a ton of butter and whole milk in this starchy side dish. Cut back on fat and calories by subbing cauliflower for the potatoes. After roasting the cauliflower, put it in a food processor with Greek yogurt. Puree until the mixture is smooth, and then season with salt and pepper.
Naturally Sweet Potatoes: Candied yams and sweet potato casserole seem more like desserts than side dishes because they are both heavily sweetened. Candied yams are roasted sweet potatoes in a bath of butter and brown sugar, and the sweetened mashed potato casserole is crowned with marshmallows and a praline crisp. Delicious? Yes. Waistline-friendly? No. Cut the sugar and candy by sweetening roasted sweet potatoes with a real maple syrup glaze. Real maple syrup is naturally nutritious and brings out the rich flavors of the sweet potato. Simple, healthy and equally delicious!
High-Impact Seasoning: One of the best-known secrets to creating healthy meals is replacing fat and sugars with herbs and spices. Seasoning your food is low calorie, but flavor packed. The same secret applies to Thanksgiving side dishes. Instead of the calorie laden green bean casserole, try lemon-dill green beans. Fresh green beans are steamed until they are tender yet crisp, and then tossed in a lemon and dill vinaigrette that’s a natural compliment to green beans. This fresh, flavorful and healthy dish will keep people coming back for more.
Eat Your Veggies: Substitute traditional stuffing and casseroles with vegetable packed alternatives. Start the Thanksgiving meal with a seasonal salad. It’s nutritious and fills you up a bit so you don’t over do it during the main event. Roasted Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and sage are a unique pairing that provides a delicious toasted crunch. It can also be prepared on the stovetop, which frees up room in the oven.
Don’t pack on the pounds this Thanksgiving. Bypass fat and calories with these healthy and flavorful sides dishes that will leave you feeling satisfied, not stuffed. Start the holiday season right with these tips and it will carry you all the way to the New Year!
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How To Have A Healthier Thanksgiving