Healthy Thanksgiving Alternatives

Written by Rebecca Rabb for Aging I.Q. News.

We all love sitting down to an abundance of mouthwatering dishes on Thanksgiving Day, but between butter, sugars and bacon, it is not always the healthiest meal. This Thanksgiving let’s give back to our bodies by making some of our favorite dishes, but much better for you. 

Turkey 

The star of the show, turkey traditionally adorns our Thanksgiving spreads. Instead of deep frying that bird or cooking it under pounds of bacon, opt for a healthier alternative. Smoked and baked turkeys are packed full of flavor and do not require the addition of copious amount of fats. Season generously, cook low and slow if baking, and you won’t even miss the bacon, we promise. 

Oven-Roasted Turkey 

14-lb Turkey (remove giblets) 

1/2 cup softened Butter 

1/4 cup Fresh Thyme (chopped) 

1/4 cup Fresh Sage (chopped) 

2 tsp Salt 

2 Large Yellow Onions 

2 Large Lemons (quartered) 

1 1/2 cup White Wine or Chicken Stock 

 
Instructions:  

Ensure you turkey is properly thawed (3-4 days in fridge or 6-8 hours in cold water). Prep your turkey by removing the giblets. Then rinse with water and pat dry. Giblets can be saved for gravy if desired. 

Preheat the oven to 250°F. 

Combine the softened butter, thyme, sage, and salt. Mix well. 

Loosen the skin from the turkey breast, spreading your butter mixture underneath the skin. 

Place your turkey on a rack inside your roasting pan. 

Stuff the turkey cavity with onions and lemons. 

Pour the wine (or chicken stock) into your roasting pan and place the turkey in the preheated oven, basting the turkey with the liquid every 2-3 hours. 

Your turkey should cook for 25 minutes per lb or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. 

For the last 35-45 minutes, increase the temperature to 375°F in order to brown the skin. 

Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving. 

Macaroni & Cheese 

A classic Thanksgiving dish for many households, macaroni and cheese is a gooey, comforting side dish. To make this dish healthier and vitamin rich, substitute the macaroni with cauliflower or broccoli. This is a great option for diabetics looking for a lower carbohydrate option. Coupling this with low-fat cheese brings the calorie-count on this classic comfort down drastically, changing this dish from a guilty pleasure to a health-conscious indulgence. 

Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole Recipe 

Ingredients 

1 Large Head of Cauliflower 

2 cups Shredded Cheese (sharp cheddar or other) 

2 tsp Dijon Mustard 

1 cup Heavy Cream 

2 oz. Cream Cheese 

1/2 tsp Salt 

1/8 tsp Garlic Powder 

1/4 tsp Black Pepper 

 
Instructions: 

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Prep the cauliflower. Cut into florets and cook your cauliflower in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. 

Spray an 8×8 baking dishes with cooking spray. 

In a separate saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Add the cream cheese and mustard, stirring until smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups of cheese stirring to incorporate. Once the cheese is melted throughout, add the garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat. 

Place your cauliflower in the prepared baking dish and cover with your cheese sauce. Top the dish with the remaining shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes until it is golden-brown. Bon Appetit! 

Cranberry Sauce 

Tart and sweet, this spiced accoutrement is packed full of sugar. That’s what makes it delicious right? Luckily, you can get all that flavor with 1/3 of the sugar. Substitute your cranberry sauce with a spicy and fruity cranberry apple salad! The best part of this dish is it only takes a fraction of the time to make. Packed full of vitamins, this salad will give you the pick me up needed after all the tryptophan kicks in from your turkey. 

Cranberry Apple Salad Recipe 

Ingredients: 

1 Red Apple 

1 Green Apple 

1 cup of Cranberries 

1/2 cup Walnuts (optional) 

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice 

1/3 cup Splenda

1 tbsp Lemon Juice 

Instructions: 

Rinse and chop your apples into bite-sized pieces. Skin can be removed if desired. Place into a mixing bowl. 

Rinse and chop the cranberries into small bite-sized pieces and add in with the apples. 

Add lemon juice to the fruit and mix. This will keep your apples from browning. 

Chop up the walnuts (optional) and add them into the mixture.  

Add the sugar (alternative), spice, and everything nice in with your fruit and mix to incorporate.  

Serve and enjoy! 

Pumpkin Pie 

This classic Thanksgiving dessert is the perfect way to end your holiday meal. Luckily, pumpkin is a healthy fruit, but to make this dish healthier, you can make a pumpkin custard to cut out the crust or reduce the sugar lowering the all-around carbohydrates and fat in this dish.  

Pumpkin Custard Recipe 

1 can Pumpkin Purée  

2 Eggs 

1 cup Heavy Cream 

1-1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice 

2/3 cup Brown Sugar (or sugar alternative) 

1/2 tsp Salt 

Preheat your oven to 350°F. 

Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl add the pumpkin purée, eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and spices and mix until incorporated.  

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Place your baking dish into a large baking dish and pour water into the larger dish creating a water bath. This will help your custard to cook throughout without cracking. Place both dishes in the oven. 

Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold, topping with whipped cream or graham crackers. Now that’s a tasty treat! 

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