Healthy Thanksgiving Tips


The crisp autumn weather has arrived and so have thoughts about Thanksgiving. Regardless of whether your clients are hosting their own holiday feast, bringing a dish to share with friends or family, or dining at a restaurant, thoughts are typically turned to two important dinner features: the turkey and the side dishes. Some of us are all about one or the other, while others embrace the entire eating experience.

The whole experience can get off to a healthy start by choosing an organically raised turkey, or for plant-based eaters, there are numerous vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Stuffing is a huge holiday favorite, and no one wants to be left out because of dietary restrictions. That means having several stuffing recipes on hand to cover all the bases: vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, and paleo. After all, no one will complain if there are several different stuffing options on the table as side dishes!

Speaking of side dishes, this is a great opportunity to get your clients— and their families—to eat their veggies! The traditional green bean casserole, candied yams, and mashed potatoes are typically far from healthy, but they can take on new guises. For example, a green bean casserole is loaded with fat, sodium, and calories, but substituting half green beans and half of another veggie, fresh onions instead of the high-fat canned ones, and fresh mushrooms stirred into a homemade white sauce using low-fat milk or a non-dairy alternative will reduce the calories, fat, and sodium significantly.

Rather than customary candied yams, the tubers can be sweetened with cinnamon, nutmeg, orange slices, and a few raisins, instead of sugar. Mashed potatoes can be substituted for whipped cauliflower as a nutritious alternative. Baked butternut, acorn, or banana squash filled with your clients’ favorite veggies, as well as herbs, nuts and/or raisins (according to preference) are tasty and healthy. Raw vegetables can be introduced in a slaw made of both green and red cabbage, carrots, yellow peppers, and onions with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

What’s Thanksgiving without pies? Pumpkin is always a favorite, but chocolate peanut butter Puffin pie could be a close second. Use of wheat-free, high-fiber Puffins cereal for the crust for both of these pies (Pumpkin Puffins for the pumpkin pie) helps make them more nutritious.

After dinner, a brisk walk with family and friends is the perfect way to aid digestion and share memories before tackling the dishes and leftovers.

Happy Thanksgiving!