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Your Thanksgiving Needs a Makeover

thanksgiving dinner

A traditional Thanksgiving meal contains an average of 3,000 calories. For those of us who are trying to lose or maintain weight, this can do serious diet damage.

But many traditional Thanksgiving foods can be quite nutritious if prepared the right way and consumed in moderation. So why not try to make this year’s turkey day a bit healthier for you and the whole family?

Healthy upgrades

Here are some healthy upgrades for traditional Thanksgiving fare.


Luckily, turkey is a lean protein with no saturated fat. It also contains the antioxidant selenium. The calories tend to creep in from the preparation. Avoid frying your turkey or adding excess butter or oil for basting. Simply use a low-fat, low-sodium broth, herbs and citrus to impart flavor and moisture without the added fat.


Stuffing can pack serious calories when prepared with white bread crumbs, butter and high fat meats. Switch to 100 percent whole-wheat bread, brown rice or quinoa for extra fiber and protein. Skip the butter and add flavor with fresh herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, and fruit, such as apples or cranberries. Carrots, onions and celery can also be added to enhance the flavor and nutrition profile.

Mashed Potatoes

Many folks add loads of butter, salt, and cream to their traditional mashed potatoes. This year, make a healthy upgrade to mashed sweet potatoes with roasted garlic. For a unique dish, try roasting root veggies like beets, sweet potato, and parsnips with olive oil and rosemary- they look beautiful and taste delicious.

Green Beans

Traditional green bean casserole contains added calories and fat from the classic cream of mushroom soup and fried onions. This year, try a simple green bean sauté with sesame oil and a drizzle of sesame seeds to save calories and seriously boost calcium intake. Or, try steaming other nutritious green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, asparagus or broccoli, and add lemon zest and garlic for flavor.


Traditional gravies can add a ton of calories to the lean turkey. Either skip it all together or use low-fat broth based gravy for moisture.

What are some of your Thanksgiving calorie saving tips?

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