Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving
Just because Thanksgiving is a time for indulging and enjoying meal time with family and friends — doesn’t mean it needs to be unhealthy.
Options for healthy organic catering & Thanksgiving recipes are plentiful and the season abounds with fresh fruits and vegetables like pomegranates, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, and butternut squash.
By swapping out some classic Thanksgiving menu items for healthy alternatives, you’ll be on your way to a nutritious meal in no time. Let’s take a look at some tips on how to have a healthy Thanksgiving meal so you can dive into the holiday season feeling energetic and creatively inspired!
When it comes to Thanksgiving starters, begin the meal with a soup or salad. Consider a nutritious soup that highlights the flavors of the season — like butternut or acorn squash, carrot, onion, or leek. If you’re looking to add a bit of creaminess, add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream and fresh herbs to the soup once it’s dished up.
When it comes to making a healthy Thanksgiving side dish, there are lots of ways to swap out classic ingredients for healthier alternatives. For stuffing, use hearty whole grains as opposed to white bread or look for grain-free stuffing recipes if you’re gluten-free. With cranberry sauce, steer clear of refined white sugar and opt for natural sweetness instead (like raw honey). With mashed potatoes, try sweet potatoes this year, which are full of nutrients and vitamins. Instead of adding a bunch of extra butter and heavy cream, use alternatives such as extra-virgin olive oil, chicken broth and maple syrup to create a flavor-filled dish. Try looking for organic and locally sourced food ingredients if possible!
For many of us, Thanksgiving Day is all about the turkey. And that’s okay! Turkey is a good source of protein that fills you up, but it’s good to be mindful of what type of turkey you’re choosing. A good rule of thumb is to start with a fresh organic turkey (rather than a frozen one). Skip the deep fryer (even if it’s a family tradition) and roast your turkey in the oven alongside fresh herbs. You can also forego the skin, which is where most of the saturated fat resides.
We know — when it comes to Thanksgiving, one of the best parts are the dessert options. But this year, ask yourself, does your family really need all three pies? Maybe one pumpkin pie will do the trick, instead. To satisfy your sweet tooth and the excitement of having a variety, substitute the others with fresh baked apples and cinnamon, pecans lightly coated in pure maple syrup or candied sweet potatoes.
Now that you have some healthy Thanksgiving meal tips to keep in mind when crafting your recipes and purchasing your ingredients, let’s dive into some other tips that will get you feeling happy and healthy this Thanksgiving.
It’s tempting to forego breakfast and lunch in an effort to save your entire appetite for the big meal. This year, try to keep your metabolism on track by eating at least a small meal in the morning and afternoon before dinner. This will also ensure you don’t go too crazy come dinnertime.
Get Fresh Air
Of course, you’ll want to be indoors cooking with the scents of pumpkin and roasting turkey wafting through the air. But consider getting the family outdoors for a big game of catch or a leisurely after dinner walk. Maybe even start a new tradition — like a nutritious breakfast of homemade granola followed by an autumn hike.
Use a Smaller Plate
This is a simple and effective Thanksgiving trick! Instead of busting out the individual platters for serving dinner, use small plates instead. You’ll be less likely to over serve and you’ll think twice about how much you really need that second (or third) plate.
It’s Okay to Say No
Just because someone brings a dish to the gathering, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. The good news is that most people are so focused on their own plates, they won’t even notice if you decide not to take a scoop of their stuffing or not. But if you’re worried about hurting feelings, a small serving does the trick.
Make Veggies the Star
Pile your plate with veggies! Consider brussels sprouts, squash, and green beans the star of the show this Thanksgiving. Your body (and your mind) will thank you if you fill up on veggies first. Also, make sure to integrate fresh herbs into your vegetable dishes for flavor like thyme, sage, and parsley instead of sprinkling on the extra salt.
Cook From Scratch
When you’re cooking from scratch, you know exactly what’s going into your dishes. Homemade cranberry sauce, for example, is going to have a lot less sugar than traditional cranberry sauce from the can.
Consider Your Scoop Size
Whether it’s stuffing, mashed potatoes or green bean casserole consider the size of your scoop. Thanksgiving is a time to indulge, and we appreciate that! Just be mindful of your portion size. Savor and be grateful for the flavors, tastes, and textures of each dish on your Thanksgiving table
Eat What’s Special
Maybe the idea of mashed potatoes seems mundane and routine but pecan pie feels like an extra special delicacy. Save room and for foods that seems celebratory and out of the ordinary. If you eat what’s special, you’re more likely to slow down and appreciate it.
Say Farewell to the Guilt
One of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle is a healthy mindset. Sometimes we get off track and eat one too many French fries (or opt for the piece of chocolate cake in lieu of fresh fruit). Say farewell to the guilt and try not to punish yourself or get stressed. It’s a holiday meant for enjoying time spent with family, friends, and yourself, after all.
Whether you’re roasting and pureeing your own pumpkin to pair with a whole grain crust and homemade whipped cream — or just considering a smaller scoop size when it comes to those buttery and beautiful mashed potatoes, there are so many options for a more nutritious holiday. Thanksgiving and healthy eating can go hand in hand!
We hope you bring these tips for a healthy Thanksgiving dinner to the kitchen and the table. Feeling overwhelmed about playing head chef this holiday? Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of catering any occasion!
From our table at Eco Caters to yours, happy holidays!