a collage of four images of thanksgiving foods. Roasted carrots. Cinnamon peaches. Veggie slaw. Sauteed mushrooms with herbs.
Weight Loss

8 Nutritious, Delicious, Guilt-Free Thanksgiving Foods

The holiday season may have you feeling like maintaining a healthy diet is hopeless. Gatherings with friends and family, treats at work, not to mention the decadent meals on the holidays themselves can all be tough to navigate. Here are 8 delicious options for Thanksgiving that are filled with nutrient-packed ingredients and loads of flavor as well.

Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

Besides these mushrooms being loaded with a savory, rich flavor, they are also simple to make. Using only balsamic vinegar, spices, garlic, and hardly anything else, you can serve up this side dish for all to enjoy. To add more interest, you can garnish it with slivered almonds (and benefit from all that nuts have to offer!), or even change the herbs depending on personal preference.

Wild Rice

Thanksgiving wild rice

This delicious wild rice recipe isn’t necessarily traditional Thanksgiving fare, but why not? It contains tangy cranberries and leeks. Wild rice is a healthy grain that is an excellent source of protein and antioxidants and is also considered a low calorie food.

Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

Cauliflower mashed potatoes

This is a recipe that you have to try to really appreciate how delicious it is. At first glance of the name, it probably doesn’t sound as appetizing as traditional mashed potatoes. But, this recipe has gained loads of fans, and for good reason. It’s a simple recipe, contains only a few ingredients, it maintains the texture and flavor of mashed potatoes, and it’s a healthier option.

Quinoa Butternut Squash Salad

Quinoa fall salad

Including a salad with the Thanksgiving meal is a wonderful way to introduce another serving of veggies. It also presents another opportunity to sneak in sources of protein and fiber, like quinoa and butternut squash, that will help you feel full, without stuffing yourself. This salad contains pecans, adding crunch, antioxidants, and minerals to the already nutrient-packed mix.

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Healthy green beans

Don’t go to your pantry and grab the canned cream-of-something or canned green beans to make this recipe! This version contains protein and probiotic-rich plain Greek yogurt for the creamy texture. Caramelized onions and mushrooms give the dish a satisfying richness. Fresh green beans are low-calorie but high in nutrients, not to mention much more flavorful than their canned counterpart.

Brussel Sprout, Kale, and Apple Slaw

Healthy slaw

Most slaws contain loads of mayonnaise, which also means loads of calories and unnecessary fat and sodium. This version uses brussel sprouts (which are in the same family as cabbage- the Brassica family), and are considered a “super food”. Brussel sprouts are full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, support digestive health, and when incorporated into recipes such as this, complement other flavors beautifully. This slaw contains bits of sharp cheddar and bacon as well as cranberries- a surprising combination, but so delicious.

Honey Garlic Roasted Carrots

Honey roasted carrots

Honey roasted carrots only require 10 minutes of prep time, meaning there is one fewer dish to fret over on a day frequently spent mostly in the kitchen! This simple recipe showcases the flavor of the tender roasted carrots. They are also tasty even when not straight out of the oven, making them a great choice as a dish to take to a Thanksgiving meal away from home.

Cinnamon Apples

Cinnamon glazed apples

We can’t forget dessert. As we’ve said before, you don’t have to completely skip foods that you enjoy- portion plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy diet. These cinnamon apples are an alternative to pastries, pies, or other desserts that are filled with high levels of sugar and fat. This sweet treat doesn’t have any added white sugar– you can either use sugar-free sweetener or honey (read more about natural sugars like honey, here). The glazed apples can also be used to top a small bowl of plain Greek yogurt, or eaten alone. Either way, it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth without piling on the guilt.

We hope you try and enjoy these recipes. Really, all it takes to be able to stay on a healthy track and enjoy holiday foods is a little bit of modification and an awareness of portion size. Don’t forget to allow yourself some leeway too- a slice of pie isn’t going to derail your efforts. If you opt for traditional mashed potatoes- enjoy! Long-term, sustainable habits won’t be dissolved by one day’s worth of food; find a balance that incorporates your goals and also enjoy what life has to offer.

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