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Healthy Thanksgiving Meal Alternatives

With Thanksgiving dinner coming up this month, I want to give you some healthier alternatives to traditional calorie packed dishes. Below is a list you can try to eat a little cleaner during the holidays.

Skip Dark Meat, Eat White Meat Turkey

The dark meat in your Thanksgiving turkey has about twice the fat of turkey breast and about 40 percent more calories. A 3.5-ounce portion of dark meat (about the size of a deck of cards) with the skin on has about 230 calories. The same amount of turkey breast without the skin is only about 160 calories, cutting about 70 calories as well as saturated fat — that’s eating healthy as long as you stick to portion control.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Potatoes have a good amount of carbohydrates and when you add butter, cream and milk into the equation the mashed potato calorie count will most definitely increase. Homemade mashed potatoes can have up to 237 calories per cup. And on top of that, literally, gravy can have up to 188 calories, depending on the type of meat used.

You can make a healthier version by substituting a portion of the potatoes with cauliflower. Use Yukon gold potatoes or Yellow Finn, which are naturally creamy, so that you can cut down on the butter and cream and still get a smooth texture. This version gives 167 calories per cup and you get more fiber from the cauliflower.

If you can let go of the potatoes, try savory mashed sweet potatoes spiced with cumin and cayenne. This has no butter or cream and is only 157 calories per serving.

Gravy that goes with your side dishes is generally rich in sodium, fat and calories. Opt for the fat-free white gravy made using leftover drippings from turkey roast, in place of butter or fat. Half cup of this has only 43 calories.


Biscuits are rich in butter and carbs, which increase their fat content. One biscuit can have 160 calories. And if we’re being truthful, you know you reach for more than just one biscuit per meal. A healthy alternative is to sub in pita bread instead of a biscuit doused in butter. One 4-inch whole-wheat pita accounts for only 80 calories.

Skip Cranberry Sauce, Eat Cranberry Relish

That can of cranberry sauce you open at Thanksgiving is full of sugar, corn syrup, and other added sweeteners. Even exercising portion control may not help — just a fourth of a cup of the canned stuff can have more than 100 calories. Make your own cranberry relish and cut out some of the sugar for a healthy holiday side dish. Save even more calories by using sugar substitutes such as Splenda or stevia. A third of a cup of cranberry sauce made with sugar substitute has only about 25 calories.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas for alternative recipes that are still delicious but healthy.

If you have any comments or questions, leave them below!

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