Eating healthy is harder this time of year than ever, yet there are more healthy Thanksgiving foods out there than you might realize. If you’ve been trying to eat better, or have been doing so for some time, don’t think you have to miss out on the holiday meal just to stay on track. You don’t even have to make it a cheat day, unless you really want to. There are actually some fantastic healthy Thanksgiving foods to eat, as long as you know what they are before you sit down to dig in. Check them out and enjoy, without a bit of guilt or the bulging waistline after the meal is over!
1. Butternut Squash
One of my favorite healthy Thanksgiving foods is simple roasted butternut squash. It is the perfect side dish to eat instead of sugary yams coated with marshmallows. If where you’re going isn’t preparing any, then how about bringing some of your own?
Yes, if you eat meat, you can have the bird! Just eat some of the white meat, which is the leander choice, and avoid the dark meat. If it has skin attached, remove it to avoid excess animal saturated fats. Turkey is the leanest source of poultry you can eat, unless it’s deep fried, which you’ll want to avoid. Eat around 4-6 ounces and don’t worry about it! This is a great lean choice to enjoy on Thanksgiving, or any other time of year.
3. Green Beans
I’ve always had a fondness for green beans, and I love that we always have them for Thanksgiving. Green beans are incredible for you, and if you don’t tolerate beans well, as I don’t at all, don’t worry! Green beans are not a starchy bean like other beans. They’re actually a vegetable and not a bean at all. They’re also low in starchy carbs and very high in protein, with 5 grams per ½ cup. If they are cooked in oil, just be sure you drain yours well with a spoon before serving and omit adding any excess salt. Stick with black pepper as your topping, which is my personal favorite, and a metabolism booster all on its own.
4. Plain Sweet Potatoes
If you’re going somewhere serving mashed potatoes or candied yams, ask if your sweet potato can be prepared plain. Also, if you’re preparing the meal, stay away from canned sweet potatoes, which are coated in syrups and excess sugar. Instead, bake your own sweet potatoes, and add some cinnamon and a little coconut oil when serving instead of butter and marshmallows. Add a few pecans on top for extra decadence, and you might just have a few people asking if they can have some of yours!
5. Red Wine
Many people enjoy wine at Thanksgiving, and if your friends or family are one of those groups, then relax. One glass of red wine is perfectly fine, and even has health benefits. Just don’t turn one glass into 3 or 4 and you’ll be just fine!
6. Pumpkin Pie
The usual pumpkin pie is loaded with sugar and usually condensed milk, so if you’re making your own, try finding a healthier recipe. Yet, if you’re going somewhere and just dying to have a piece of pumpkin pie, it is the healthier option over higher calorie options like pecan and sweet potato pie.
7. Stuffed Mushrooms
Many people serve stuffed mushrooms at Thanksgiving, and believe it or not, most recipes aren't that bad for you. Most recipes contain just onions, celery, panko breadcrumbs and some type of cheese like feta, goat or mozzarella. Others might have crab, which is a great source of lean protein and omega 3s. For a healthier option, just serve some sauteed mushrooms and onions, if you’re preparing mushrooms this year.
You truly can eat pretty decent at Thanksgiving. I usually make a huge kale salad and add turkey, roasted squash and eat a side of green beans. Thanksgiving is the one time of year I eat meat and do so without guilt. It’s not about being perfect, but about doing what you can with what you have. Also, I usually forego the pumpkin pie and instead, have some fresh or canned pumpkin mixed with some stevia, Greek yogurt, vanilla and cinnamon as a yummy pumpkin pudding. My family doesn’t mind, and I’m sure yours wouldn’t either! What’s your favorite healthy food at Thanksgiving?