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Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes and Eating Tips

Published in For the Health of It, Healthy Eating Tips Author: Clara Vancura,RDN,LD

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

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For almost every family, Thanksgiving dinner is an annual tradition. Unfortunately, for many people, unhealthy eating and feeling bloated after Thanksgiving dinner also is an annual tradition.

Of course, portion control and eating only until you are full plays a big part of eating healthy on Thanksgiving. You also can help have a healthy holiday by selecting healthy recipes in advance.

Here are some things to be aware of when preparing your menu with the traditional Thanksgiving foods:

  • Turkey meat is low in fat and high in protein, but different parts of the bird contain more calories and fat. Most of the saturated fat found in poultry is located in the skin. For an easy heart healthy option leave the skin off to the side and enjoy the white meat while keeping in mind a serving size is 3 oz. or the size of a deck of cards.
  • Watch out for stuffing and the amount of salt it contains. One serving of boxed stuffing contains 429 milligrams of sodium, which is equal to 1/5th the total amount of sodium a healthy adult should eat in a day.
  • Cranberries are naturally high in fiber and low in sugar so they aren’t very sweet. To make them sweet in the typical canned sauce — lots of sugar is added. One-quarter cup of cranberry sauce contains 28 grams or 7 tsp. of sugar.
  • Potatoes on their own are a good healthy vegetable with a large amount of vitamin C. When adding butter, sour cream and cheese, the saturated fat and sodium can get out of hand very quickly. The same goes for sweet potatoes if you add brown sugar and butter to them.
  • Anyone who has made their own pie crust knows they contain lots of butter to create the flakiness one expects. The typical serving of pie contains over 5 grams of fat from one layer of crust alone. If your Thanksgiving dessert is a double-crust apple pie, then you could be in for double the trouble.

To help make the healthier choice easier, see the recipe ideas (see sidebar) for Thanksgiving taken from our healthy recipes on All of the healthy recipes on our website have been reviewed by one of our registered dietitians and aim to be part of a heart-healthy diet. Maybe you can find a new favorite recipe to share at holiday parties and meals at Christmas and New Year’s, too.