5 Easy Ingredient Swaps for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Why do so many traditional Thanksgiving recipes call for ridiculous amounts of added fat, sugar and salt? Because they make food delicious, that’s why. However, that also means the average Thanksgiving dinner has way too much of what our bodies don’t need.

How can you make the meal healthier? Look for swapportunities.

A few simple changes to traditional recipes can help you cut back on unhealthy ingredients and provide a surprisingly delicious new take on Thanksgiving classics.


Swapportunity One: Treat your bird to a healthy bath

Many people rub their turkey down with butter to get a golden-brown skin, but your arteries can do without the additional saturated fat. Fortunately, you can get the same crispy skin by giving your recipe a heart-healthy twist.

Replace the butter with a combination of lemon juice and herbs. Sprinkle the bird with the juice mixture before putting it in the oven and watch it brown up during the roasting process.


Swapportunity Two: Go wild with your stuffing

White bread-based stuffing is full of the kind of simple carbohydrates nutritionists tell us to avoid. Spice up your stuffing by substituting wild rice for white bread. The rice imparts a nutty flavor, while providing a plethora of nutrients and fiber that you just don’t get with bread-based stuffing.


Swapportunity Three: Mix it up with your mashed potatoes

Everyone loves the creamy texture of mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, the heavy cream that provides that texture comes with an ocean of fat and calories. However, substituting Greek yogurt for the cream results in the same rich texture, minus all the extra fat.

If you’re feeling bold, you can also leave some of the skin on your potatoes when mashing. Doing so will add vitamins and fiber to this beloved side dish.


Swapportunity Four: Nothing beats homemade

Canned cranberry sauce has the advantage of being easy to prepare, but that’s pretty much where the advantages end. Most cranberry sauces that you find in the canned food aisle are loaded with sugar.

Instead, make your own cranberry sauce with frozen berries, fruit juice and a mix of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. The spices will give your sauce a zing the store-bought versions rarely have, and using fruit juice will help you reduce the amount of added sugar that finds its way into your sauce.


Swapportunity Five: Don’t give up on dessert

It’s tough to make pie healthy, but it’s not a lost cause. While all pies are high in sugar and carbohydrates, a sweet potato or pumpkin pie made from scratch has plenty of fiber to help you regulate your blood sugar. If you replace the cream that usually goes into your pumpkin or sweet potato pie with evaporated skim milk, you can cut calories without missing out on taste or texture.