It is estimated that the average American consumes around 4,500 calories over the course of a Thanksgiving meal. Yes, you read that right: 4,500! That’s more than twice the typical 2,000 calorie-diet bases that many food companies use on their packaging, and for only a single meal. And while Thanksgiving is certainly a food-centric holiday, that doesn’t mean it has to be so caloric. Below are lightened-up versions of classic Thanksgiving favorites that taste just as good as the full-fat, calorie-laden dishes.
1. Green Bean Casserole
Cream of mushroom soup and crispy fried onions make this popular side dish less than ideal for those looking to get in some veggies on Turkey Day. This recipe makes a few simple changes, like buying lower sodium cream of mushroom soup and using skim milk, which slash the calorie count without sacrificing flavor.
2. Sweet Potato Casserole
These sweet potatoes are whipped, giving them a creamy and light, not overly filling quality. And since, as the name suggests, sweet potatoes are already prone to sweetness, you don’t have to worry about topping it off with candied nuts or marshmallows.
3. Macaroni and Cheese
This fatty favorite is lightened up by adding cauliflower to the sauce (trust us, you won’t know it’s there!). Opt for low-fat cheese to make this dish even healthier. Get the recipe here.
4. Stuffing (or Dressing)
This recipe for Pear, Prosciutto & Hazelnut Stuffing is not only a tasty twist on a classic Thanksgiving dish, but it also offers some great nutritional value that you might not find in other stuffing recipes. The prosciutto offers protein, while the hazelnuts pack healthy fats. Consider making this instead of a more nutritionally void version.
5. The Bird
The turkey is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals. But while the bird is often covered in butter or sometimes even deep-fried, there are healthier ways to serve it up. Consider rubbing it with herbs and olive oil before putting the turkey in the oven, as opposed to higher fat alternatives. While you’re eating, try to avoid the skin and dark meat; these pack more calories and fat than white meat.
6. Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pie is often packed with sugars and fats, and the filling isn’t the only culprit! This Pumpkin Brulee Cheesecake uses graham crackers, low-fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt to help cut down on calories, sugar and fat.