Thanksgiving is one of the most important meals of the year - it brings family and friends together to break bread and express gratefulness for life's blessings.
One little problem with the Thanksgiving feast: It can be hard to please everyone at the table.
The good news is that with a wide array of different side dishes, you can provide something that will please everyone. If you're watching your weight, don't stress - your Thanksgiving side dishes can be healthy and still please everyone.
Choose from these seven savory sides to make your Thanksgiving feast a healthy and memorable one this year.
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes are similar to the banana in that they are also an excellent source of potassium. If you eat the skin, you will also reap the healthy benefits of fiber, making the sweet potato a super healthy holiday food. Just please try to stay away from topping your baked sweet potatoes with too much brown sugar, butter, nuts or marshmallows!
Cranberries are packed with vitamin C and also provide a fair amount of dietary fiber. Cranberries also contain antioxidants that can prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the urinary tract sometimes causing urinary tract infections. While fresh cranberries are great, be careful with the canned cranberry sauce that has a whole lot of added sugars.
Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C. They're also a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese and dietary fiber. Keep your mashed potatoes healthy by using fat-free milk and fat-free cream cheese to reduce the fat and calories this holiday.
Green Bean Casserole
Green beans are probably one of the healthiest holiday foods out there. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K (important for bone health) and manganese. They also contain a good amount of vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate and iron. Green Bean Casserole in a traditional Thanksgiving meal is rather high in calories as it contains condensed cream of mushroom soup, and French fried unions. Prepare this dish with lower-fat version of these ingredients such as low-fat cream of mushroom soup and you will be able to enjoy a little of this yummy taste without a lot of the guilt!
Arugula and Pear Salad with Walnuts
Besides giving this salad a nutty crunch, walnuts are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants. For an added flavor, add a small amount of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese on top. Also, use fresh pears rather than pears in syrup to cut down on sugar!
Bulgur Stuffing with Dried Cranberries
For a change of pace from the traditional bread stuffing, try this healthier, nutty-tasting grain. Quick-cooking whole grain bulgur offers a lower-fat, higher-protein fiber choice than the traditional version made from wheat.
Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A and also provides fiber. Pumpkin pie, however, becomes a high-calorie food when it's made with eggs, sugar, and evaporated milk, and baked in a high-fat pie crust. To make a lower-fat pumpkin pie, you may consider using an egg substitute, light cream or low-fat evaporated milk in your recipe. Go for a pie crust with the lowest amount of trans fat possible. Zero trans fat works best! Or, try a homemade pie crust recipe that does not call for shortening.
Last, but not least, remember to be thankful for your health this Thanksgiving. We at Diet-to-Go appreciate having you as a member of our great family of friends!
Rebecca Mohning is a Registered Dietitian and an Exercise Physiologist who believes that we can change our metabolism and achieve optimal health through proper nutrition and regular exercise. She has a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's of Science in Dietetics from Iowa State University. She is a certified Personal Trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine. She specializes in weight management, performance nutrition, and eating disorders.