Classic Thanksgiving dishes are the ultimate in comfort food: They’re warming, hearty, and rich in memories—as well as carbohydrates, bad fats, and sodium. I know it’s important for you to serve these standards and to keep family traditions alive at the holiday table. But, I also know it’s equally important for you to stick to your dietary goals and eat well at every meal.
So, I’ve rounded up five recipes that will satisfy both tradition and nutrition. Make them for a filling and fit feast!
Starter: Perfect Pumpkin Soup
This Very Simple Pumpkin Soup is an ideal kickoff. It uses maple syrup—a natural sweetener I’ve praised before—and it calls for a moderate amount of butter and half and half, not heavy cream. What’s more, it’s topped with shiitakes, mushrooms believed to offer cardiovascular and even anti-cancer benefits. Plus, it ensures your spread features pumpkin, since this meal plan eschews pumpkin pie for dessert.
Side Dish: Roasted Roots
Now is the peak season for root vegetables, undeniable health foods. Instead of plain mashed potatoes with fattening cream and butter, opt for this Root Vegetable Fries recipe, which uses a mixture of unpeeled potato, sweet potato, carrots, and beets; the peels are nutrient powerhouses. You’ll remember from last e-news that potatoes are high in potassium, and sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and antioxidants (the same goes for brightly hued beets and carrots). A little heart-healthy olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs are all that’s needed to complete this simple, satisfying side.
Stuffing: Quirky Quinoa
Traditional stuffing is pure carbs, and it’s usually made with white bread to boot, which has had most of its nutrients stripped away during production. Try this non-traditional spin using quinoa, a protein-packed whole grain that contains all nine essential amino acids. I like the variation using dried cherries and almonds, both of which bring health benefits to the table. The stuffing works as a standalone dish and can also be used inside your bird just like the classic bread-based version.
Main Dish: Turkey Chili, If You Dare
It’s likely Thanksgiving without a roasted turkey won’t fly with you. If that’s the case, roast it with olive oil, lemon, and fresh herbs, then remove the skin before eating the meat to reduce your fat intake.
But if you dare to break with turkey tradition, try this Turkey Chili recipe as a main dish. It’s more a chunky stew and won’t resemble the pumpkin soup in texture, and it’s full of fiber while being low in saturated fat. You can also make it with turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving instead of a carb-heavy sandwich or fat-filled casserole.
Dessert: Vegan (Yes, Vegan!) Cake
This Vegan Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting is proof you can have your cake and eat it, too—after all, it stars produce! It contains good monounsaturated fat thanks to the avocados, has no cholesterol, and is packed with fiber as well as flavor that’s sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
I’m also a fan of the No-Sugar-Added Harvest Fruit Pie, which can be found at the same link above. The fruit used is sweet enough with just a little help from pure apple juice, so the pie is low in sugar and packed with potassium.
Tip: Even though this meal plan is a healthy one, you still don’t want to overeat to the point of sluggishness and guilt. Remember to Keep it a 5™. Happy Thanksgiving!