Everybody thinks of Thanksgiving as being rich with heavy foods that are bad for you, but the truth is most of the classic Thanksgiving dishes are actually pretty healthy. It really just depends on how you prepare them.
Take the star of the show - the turkey. Unless you deep-fry it or serve it with a heavy sauce, turkey is a wonderfully healthy source of protein.
The same is true of cranberry dishes, sweet potato dishes and green bean recipes. Some are high in sugar and calories, but others are quite healthy. Here are some terrific, healthy options for Thanksgiving that your family will just love.
Getty Images/George Doyle
Cooking your turkey in an oven bag not only ensures a nice, juicy bird, it also eliminates the need for you to add a lot of flavoring in the form of heavy sauces, glazes or gravies to dress up the turkey. This recipe is practically fool-proof (just be sure to use an oven bag that is specifically designed for cooking turkey. A brown paper bag is a dangerous substitute - don't do it!).
To see how it's done in pictures, be sure to check out these step-by-step directions for how to cook turkey in an oven bag.
Homemade cranberry sauce tastes so much better than the stuff you buy in a can. And when you make it yourself, you can control how much sugar you put in it. Cranberries do need some sugar - they're quite bitter without it, but this recipe calls for a range. If you're watching your sugar intake, err on the lower end of the range. This recipe also uses orange juice to brighten and sweeten the flavor of the cranberry sauce.
Getty Images/Kris Timken
With just three ingredients, this recipe is every bit as easy as the traditional green bean casserole, but much lower in calories. Fresh green beans are tossed with olive oil and sea salt in this easy recipe. I'm a big fan of Maldon sea salt
because it has nice, large crystals that melt on your tongue and pack a real flavor punch. Plus, because the crystals are large, you can use less of it.
The classic sweet potato casserole is rich with almost as much sugar and butter as you would find in a dessert. And if you top it with marshmallows or a brown sugar streusel topping, it's even more decadent. This recipe is a lighter alternative, made with just a touch of honey and brown sugar. It's creamy, vibrant and loaded with vitamin A.
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Stuffing isn't exactly health food. But if you add heart-healthy pecans and antioxidant-rich cranberries to it, you have a classic Thanksgiving side dish with the nutrient quotient kicked up a few notches.
Don't Miss: Stuffing Recipe Mix-Ins
Would it surprise you to know that Brussels sprouts are one of my kids' favorite foods? When you roast Brussels sprouts, they become nice and caramelized. Toss them with chopped apples, a little bit of bacon and parmesan cheese and you've got a salad that's worthy of serving to company on Thanksgiving.
Are you surprised pumpkin pie is on this list? You shouldn't be. Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A, fiber and other good-for-you nutrients. The crust is the only unhealthy part of this pie, but hey, it's Thanksgiving!
This video shows you how to make a chocolate pecan pie that is actually pretty healthy. Brown rice syrup is used in place of corn syrup. Pecans, like all nuts, are already pretty healthy, and if you use dark chocolate chips, you boost the nutrient value even more.