Buttery mashed potatoes, rich gravy, carb-filled casseroles and sugary pie — Thanksgiving isn’t an easy day for healthy eating. That’s not to say it’s impossible. With a bit of creativity and research, you can make the big celebration a much more nutritious one. Here’s a look at some simple ways to add healthier sides and desserts to your Thanksgiving menu.
Hearty roasted vegetables
For a Thanksgiving side dish that will disappear almost as fast as the turkey and mashed potatoes, serve some roasted vegetables. Cut them up, coat them evenly in a bit of olive oil, season them and stick them in a hot oven. When they come out all brown and crisp on the outside and deeply flavorful on the inside, even your veggie-skeptical guests will take notice. Roasting works well with almost any vegetable, from carrots and Brussels sprouts to sweet potatoes and squash.
Food writer Emma Christensen of Kitchn offers three tips for successful roasted veggies. First, if you’re roasting multiple types of veggies in the same pan, make sure they pair well. Mixing soft vegetables and hard vegetables will result in a dish that’s both burnt and undercooked. Second, make sure to cut each batch of vegetables into similar sizes so they’ll all finish roasting around the same time. Finally, don’t crowd your roasting pan too much, or the veggies will steam rather than roast.
Sweet potatoes — minus the sugar
Candied sweet potatoes are a holiday classic, but they’re also loaded with butter and sugar. Fortunately, plenty of healthier ways exist to cook sweet potatoes. First of all, sweet potatoes are a prime candidate for roasting. Serve them whole or sliced — or you can even cut them up and toss into a salad. Mashed sweet potatoes are delicious, too. Make a savory version with salt, herbs and olive oil, or opt for a sweeter version by spiking with pure maple syrup. Another healthy way to prepare sweet potatoes is to slice them, layer them with apples and spices and bake them. This recipe often features a bit of butter and brown sugar, but you can easily keep those ingredients to a minimum or eliminate them altogether.
Pumpkin pie that’s good for you
Along with turkey, few dishes are more central to Thanksgiving than pumpkin pie. Traditional pumpkin pie recipes are often full of saturated fat, sugar and carbs, but it’s easy to cut back on these elements to make a healthier pie. Depending on your dietary requirements, there are numerous creative ways to do this. Some recipes focus on the crust, cutting the amount of butter used, substituting whole-wheat flour or even going crustless. Other recipes focus on the filling, using low-fat milk and yogurt, substituting pumpkin puree and replacing or reducing sugar. However you decide to make your pie, don’t forget to go easy on the whipped topping, too!
Equipped with these ideas, you’ll be well on your way to serving a Thanksgiving meal that offers healthier options and can still please a crowd.
This article is presented by Colonial Volkswagen of Medford in Medford, Massachusetts.