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Thanksgiving is all about family, fun and definitely food. But often times we end up feeling bloated from overindulging and consuming more calories in one sitting than you normally do on a given day. By substituting healthier options of our favorite dishes, we can make Thanksgiving a day we will thank ourselves for staying healthy too.
Put that deep fryer away! Not only is deep frying turkey dangerous, but cooking turkey in a fryer full of grease isn’t exactly the healthiest option. Think of your Thanksgiving dinner as a quality meal full of protein, vegetables and maybe something a little bit sweet at the end. You’ll be stocking up on even more fat and calories just by dipping your turkey into the fryer. If you want to do something a little less traditional than an oven-baked turkey, fire up the grill instead!
Mashed...cauliflower?: Imagine how much more you could eat if you switched carb-heavy mashed potatoes for cauliflower! They taste about the same but one is much less filling than the other—leaving precious room in your stomach for a yummy dessert or an extra helping of stuffing. You can make it cheesy like this Rachael Ray recipe, or add some garlic like in this paleo recipe. BONUS: We’ll bet the finicky kids at the dinner table won’t even notice the difference!
Sweet, sweet potatoes: If you can’t bear to part with potatoes this Thanksgiving, we totally understand. We’re thankful this year—and every year—for the delicious goodness that is sweet potatoes. Skip that marshmallow mess that normally finds itself in a sweet potato recipe and stick to the basics like this easy peasy mashed sweet potato recipe. Add a touch of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and a little drizzle of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and you’ll have a filling, healthy side that everyone will love.
Traditional green bean casserole…with a twist: Okay, so we all know that your mom’s green bean casserole is full of heavy cream and butter and…more butter. But by making a few substitutions, you can turn green bean casserole into a healthier version of itself by substituting low-fat Greek yogurt for heavy cream and olive oil for butter. Oh, but what about those sinfully delicious crispy onion straws? No problem, according to this recipe, which lets you get creative by making your own with bread crumbs and onions.
The lighter side of pumpkin pie: Because seriously, what’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? You only need to make a few substitutions to make your pumpkin pie a little healthier. First of all, don’t even bother with the pumpkin pie mix that comes in the can. Puree pumpkin on your own or just get the 100% pure pumpkin that comes in the can. Swap out regular flour for almond flour or your favorite gluten-free flour for the crust, and use honey instead of sugar. Check out our favorite guiltless pumpkin pie recipe here.
If you’re like us, we wait all year for the goodness that is Thanksgiving dinner. This year, you don’t need to feel guilty about that second—or third!—helping with food swaps above. You can also go nontraditional with a few riceworks recipes if you’re not in charge of any of the main dishes but want to contribute to the meal planning and preparing.
Read More About 5 Healthy Food Swaps for Thanksgiving Classics