By Kelsey Childs, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s
Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate over a delicious meal. While most look forward to sitting down at the table to begin the feast, few enjoy getting up from the table feeling overly stuffed. Estimates from the Calorie Control Council suggest a traditional Thanksgiving meal may contain as many as 3,000 calories, and once appetizers and beverages are included, the total can climb to a whopping 4,500 calories!
This Thanksgiving, use whole food ingredients in place of processed products to boost the nutrient content of your dishes and lighten the calorie load. Swapping full fat dairy products with reduced fat versions can further cut back on calories without impacting flavor. Check out the healthy Thanksgiving recipe ideas below to see if one of these delicious dishes might have a place at your table this year.
Roasted Green Beans with Cranberries
Instead of relying on canned soups to flavor traditional green bean casseroles, try this recipe made from whole food ingredients. Cranberries, garlic, lemon, and balsamic vinegar combine to pair perfectly with roasted turkey.
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into quarters
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, from one lemon
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, from one lemon
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup walnuts (toasted if desired, see note)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil.
- toss green beans with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar directly on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the beans for 15 minutes, then stir with a spatula to promote even cooking. Continue roasting until the beans are tender, slightly browned and just starting to shrivel, about 10 minutes more. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, cranberries and walnuts and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if desired.
- Note: to toast the walnuts, bake them on a sheet pan in a 350-degree oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Recipe source: Once Upon a Chef
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Use a combination of reduced fat milk and sour cream as mashed potato mixers to yield a creamy product without the need for large amounts of butter or cream.
- 2 lbs. (4 medium) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 1/4 cup light sour cream
- 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup reduced fat milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
- Put potatoes and garlic in large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil.
- Drain and return potatoes and garlic to pan. Add remaining ingredients. Mash until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon
Instead of smothering sweet potatoes in butter and brown sugar, try roasting your potatoes. The natural flavor of the sweet potatoes is complemented by the simple coating of olive oil, honey and cinnamon.
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle the oil, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper over the potatoes. Roast for 25-45 minutes in the oven, or until tender.
- A nutrition expert from CHOC Children’s offers parents tips on healthy grocery shopping.
- A lactaction consultant discusses the benefits of breastfeeding, including preventing disease and other lifelong benefits.
- Healthy eating for kids is an essential part of their overall healthy lives. For children, it’s especially important because their growth and development depends on it.