Thanksgiving is all about food, but sometimes that food isn’t always the healthiest. Stick with your healthy lifestyle by “tucking before turkey” (of course a visit to the barre should be on the holiday checklist!) and bringing a healthier version of your favorite dish to your Thanksgiving dinner.
Check out these 10 easy recipe substitutions that can help transform your favorite holiday recipes into healthier versions. Decrease the sugar content, cut back on the bad fats and cut calories while keeping the core flavors that you love in your recipe. The recipe substitutions below can be used for cooking or baking, so be sure to try the one, two or three substitutions that work best for your holiday recipe!
- Cut the amount of sugar in half. Does your dessert or cranberry sauce recipe call for 1 cup of sugar? Try adding 1/2 cup instead, we promise no one will even notice the difference.
- Half white and half whole wheat. If your recipe calls for all-purpose (white) flour only, try substituting some whole wheat flour for part of it. If it calls for 2 cups, try swapping one cup all-purpose flour for one cup of whole wheat flour to add in fiber and ease digestion.
- Look for reduced fat dairy. Dairy products (milk, cheese) contain saturated fats, which the American Heart Association recommends we consume in moderation. To keep the saturated fat in your recipe moderate, try substituting skim or 1% milk and part skim or 2% cheese in lieu of whole milk and cheeses. You will cut back on the calories in your dish as well!
- Switch out the sour cream. Dips are a popular appetizer dish on Thanksgiving, and many call for sour cream. If your favorite recipe is one of them, try switching the sour cream out for the same amount of nonfat greek yogurt instead. You will cut back on the saturated (bad) fat and calories, while also giving your dip a protein boost!
- Go for low sodium broth. Reduce the salt in your gravy by choosing low sodium broth or bouillon instead.
- Opt for olive oil. Have you noticed that butter is a common ingredient in traditional Thanksgiving recipes? Try using olive oil instead of butter to sauté your green beans or roast your potatoes and keep the saturated fat content low and the healthy fats high.
- Lighten up your mashed potatoes. Instead of heavy cream, which is high in saturated fat and calories, try this: for every 1 cup of heavy cream in the recipe, substitute 2/3 cup skim milk and 1/3 cup olive oil instead.
- Try white meat turkey sausage in your stuffing. Be sure to look for the 97/3 lean ground turkey to decrease the number of calories and the level of saturated fats in your dish. The turkey sausage has the same texture as pork and it tastes so good your guests won’t have a clue that you have health-ified this dish!
- Leave the frying pan in the cabinet. Roasting, baking, steaming, grilling, braising and sautéing can keep the flavor high and the calories low. Try these cooking methods for your holiday recipe instead of frying which can add additional calories, but not necessarily a ton of flavor.
- Say NO to trans fats! Many recipes call for prepared foods such as pie crusts and frostings, which often times can contain trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). PHOs raise your bad or LDL cholesterol, and contribute to heart disease. The USDA recognizes this risk and plans to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils in our food supply within the next 3 years, but until then we recommend reading the ingredients on prepared foods to ensure they do not contain PHO’s.
Written by Brittany Chin, RD. Brittany is the Content Marketing Manager at Pure Barre Corporate and is also a Registered Dietitian with her Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management. She received her B.S. in Nutrition Science and Dietetics from Syracuse University and completed her Dietetic Internship at the Medical University of South Carolina. She is currently obtaining her Master’s in Health Communication from Boston University. She loves food, cooking, Pure Barre and of course, social media.