10 Simple Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving


Even though it seems to be tradition to use Thanksgiving (or any holiday really) as an excuse to let everything we know about eating well fly out the window… should we?
It’s just one day, right?  


Here’s my take on it. First of all, it is one day… 
-after another -after another.  

We still have Halloween candy we’ve been working on for the last 2 weeks.  

Christmas is just around the corner, and how many ‘just this once’ moments will there be with school events, community events, office parties, friends’ parties, family get-togethers, etc. in the coming few weeks?  

After that it’s less than 2 months until Valentine’s Day (chocolate, anyone?), 2 more months until Easter (more chocolate, anyone!?).  

I could go on, but I think you see my point.  You might not be concerned with your weight – you probably don’t even need to be.  But could it hurt to leave a little fat and sugar out, and put more healthful ingredients in?


Couldn’t Thanksgiving dinner be just as memorable, satisfying, and enjoyable, maybe even more so, if you could eat all of the wonderful food you’ve prepared to share with your family knowing that you’re also helping to nourish them and take care of their health


YES! I hope your Thanksgiving is a wonderfully happy and amazing day filled with family and love and appreciation – and a bountiful variety of yummy (healthy) food! 


One of my all-time favorite sides, this one can easily go overboard on unhealthy fat and extra calories when including lots of butter, milk, or sour cream.


  • Replace about half of the butter and milk with low-sodium chicken broth.
  • Instead of sour cream, try using plain nonfat yogurt for really creamy mashed potatoes.

A Thanksgiving must for many, this side commonly calls for canned mushroom soup and French fried onions. These are both surprisingly high in fat! 

A great alternative is to serve steamed veggies mixed with a little melted butter and some garlic and pepper.  Green beans are delicious, as are many others like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, carrots, or even corn) . 

If your family just refuses to do Thanksgiving without this creamy, crunchy casserole, try these tips:


  • Substitute low-fat sour cream or fat-free plain Greek yogurt for half of the mushroom soup. This will retain the creaminess.
  • Add in some herbs and spices for extra depth of flavor.
  • Replace fried onions:  Add diced grilled onions to the green beans and top the casserole with one of the following:
    – chow mein noodles
    – a mix of whole wheat bread crumbs and wheat germ
    – toasted cubes of whole wheat bread, with or without herbs

Canned cranberry sauce is loaded with corn syrup, which is an undesirable ingredient we definitely want to avoid when trying to eat healthier. 

My family loves this homemade tart, citrus spiced version. It’s super easy to make. I like to make a double batch ahead of time and freeze it into cubes (get directions for that here). On Thanksgiving Day, I place half the cubes into a bowl to thaw in the fridge while preparing dinner. 

I use the remaining cubes later to mix into plain nonfat yogurt, blend into smoothies, or add as a topping on whole grain pancakes or waffles, thawing each portion as needed.

I admit it… I grew up on the boxed stuff, and it’s the only kind I’ve ever liked.  Now, looking at the ingredients list makes me cringe. This year, I’m going to give homemade another try using these tips to boost nutritional value and flavor.


  • Use whole wheat bread cubes instead of white to increase fiber & B vitamins.
  • To boost flavor and increase illness-fighting antioxidants:Add fresh veggies
    – celery
    – onions
    – finely chopped broccoli
    Add herbs
    – rosemary
    – thyme
    – sage 
  • For added fiber, flavor, and antioxidants:Add fresh or dried fruit
    – apples
    – raisins
    – cranberries
    – apricots 


I know a lot of people who think these are synonymous with marshmallows …and a lot of those same people refuse to eat sweet potatoes because of it.  I was one of them for a long time! 

Marshmallows are really nothing more than air-puffed corn syrup and sugar – hardly a complement to the powerful nutrition contained in sweet potatoes, which have a natural sweetness of their own!  

Other unnecessary (and unhealthy) ingredients I’ve seen in many sweet potato casserole recipes: butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and granulated sugar.

Try this easy recipe:  Maple Citrus Sweet Potato Bake
This delicious dish combines pure ingredients and subtle spice to enhance the natural sweet potato flavor without adding sugar, fat, and other nutritional disasters found in most traditional recipes.

The other day I read (I can’t remember where) that “pumpkin is the new bacon” – what???!!!!  

I didn’t really get it at first, and then I started to think about the ways people enjoy pumpkin – usually mostly during the holidays, and often only in the form of pumpkin pie, which is traditionally loaded with fat and sugars.


  • Skip the crust (which is full of fat and simple carbohydrates. Store-bought prepared crusts usually also contain hydrogenated oils).  Instead, serve pumpkin custard by simply preparing the pie filling and baking individual servings in ramekins. Lightly coat ramekins with nonstick cooking spray and reduce baking time by about half, checking periodically with a toothpick for doneness.
  • Try some of my favorite alternate pumpkin recipes!
    Pumpkin Oat Cookies + super-nutritious smoothies here (plus learn 5 health benefits of pumpkin).Add it to pancakes (add 1 c. pumpkin puree and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice to this pancake recipe).



Every year do you wonder how on earth you’ll get it ALL done for everyone?!

How you’ll survive two solid months running yourself ragged doing all the things and planning all the things…

{choosing & buying gifts, wrapping, making the annual photo calendar, attending all the social events – work, kids’ school, friends, family – cleaning to host company, food shopping + doing all the cooking, serving, cleaning up, etc}

Basically bending over backwards trying to
create the “perfect” experience
for your children & family…..

and MISSING OUT on many of the magical moments you worked so hard to create! 

Please join me for a brand new 1-hour 


If you know someone else who might like to try these tips or want the Masterclass, please share this article!

Happy Holidays!







1 thought on “10 Simple Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving”

  1. Pingback: Maple Citrus Sweet Potato - RECIPE

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