Thanksgiving isn’t known for its side salad. Instead, it’s famous for heaping bowls of carby, buttery mashed potatoes, fluffy stuffing, and sodium filled turkey. This wasn’t a problem for the pilgrims, since they needed to fatten up for the long, cold winter ahead. But for the typical American, Thanksgiving is a time where it’s easy to pack on a few unintended pounds.
While it’s never the end of the world to fluctuate, here are some lower fat recipes you can make this Thanksgiving, so you don’t feel deprived or like your skimping on any of the deliciousness.
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Pumpkin pie is a staple of Thanksgiving, but it’s loaded with sugar and fat. These 60 calorie pumpkin pie bars are a fantastic, low calorie alternative. The key to keeping these under 100 calories is cutting them into the right size squares.
Thanksgiving dinners average in at over 5,000 calories per person! That’s more than double the daily recommended caloric intake for an average person. If you want to stay trim this Thanksgiving, stick to desserts like these, and smaller servings!
Weight Watchers Stuffing
Stuffing is so good, but it lives up to its name—it stuffs you with tons of carbs, salt, and fat. In fact, a single serving can hold up to 25 percent of your daily salt recommendation and half your carbohydrates. If you’re on Weight Watchers or another diet, here’s a fantastic, low-calorie stuffing for you.
The key to staying trim this Thanksgiving isn’t just eating healthier foods, it’s eating smaller portions. Don’t beat yourself up if you opt for a traditional stuffing recipe. Just make sure to stick to the recommended serving size.
Whole Wheat Pie Crust
Pies are sugar and butter traps: aka, the worst thing for someone who is on a diet. While everyone is entitled to their cheat days and indulging when they see fit, here is one way to cut calories in your Thanksgiving desserts.
This recipe skips the traditional butter that’s found in pie crust and uses oil instead. It also substitutes white flour with whole wheat, to introduce more healthful benefits into your Thanksgiving feast. If you’re looking for an even healthier pie crust, you can find a great Graham Cracker crust recipe that uses bananas instead of butter, and other healthy ideas here.
Weight Watchers Pumpkin Mousse
Pumpkin—on its own—is a very healthy gourd. But when combined with evaporated milk and sugar, its health benefits dwindle. This Weight Watchers pumpkin mousse leverages sugar-free Jell-O pudding, low fat milk, and lots of spices to cut calories and ramp up flavor.
There’s only about eight calories in one piece of candy corn—albeit, it’s all sugar–so you don’t have to feel too guilty for adding one, two, or three to the top of your pumpkin mousse for a lovely and delicious garnish.
Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”
Regular potatoes have gotten a bad rap for being “bad for you.” That’s actually not true. The skin of regular baked potatoes includes minerals and the flesh itself is loaded with potassium, fiber, and more. But again, when Thanksgiving-ized, mashed potatoes can become piles of fatty calories. That’s why we love this alternative cauliflower recipe. Check it out.
You need to decide the purpose of this recipe for you. Is it to cut carbs? Because cauliflower can definitely do that compared to regular russet potatoes. However, if you keep the same amount of whole milk, butter, and salt, you won’t be eliminating tons of calories, just carbohydrates.
Low Calorie Cocktail
Cocktails are something we often forget are more of a dessert than a refreshment. Most are loaded with sugar, which can quickly turn into body fat. But there’s good news! You can still indulge in a Thanksgiving cocktail without blowing your diet out of the water. This one, for instance, includes vodka and orange juice, so it’s not too bad at all.
This cocktail can also be changed to include spiced cider (if you make it low sugar), pomegranate juice (which is an antioxidant-rich treat), and unsweetened cranberry juice. All have that great Thanksgiving color scheme and will keep calories to a minimum.
Diet Apple Crisp
Apple crisp traditionally uses lots of sugar and butter to cover up otherwise healthy apples. This recipe maintains the same flavors, but cuts a lot of the calories.
Gather your supplies: sugar-free sweeteners, frozen yogurt for à la mode, and oats. Then, make sure to add plenty of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and even a little ginger to give this healthy crisp all the flavor you’re used to in unhealthier recipes.
Instead of creamed spinach, you can make an easy change to keep the same flavors at your Thanksgiving table. Sautéed spinach contains iron, Vitamin A and K, and more. Plus, when you add garlic, you can enjoy added health benefits that fight heart disease, and more.
When sautéing spinach, remember that it cooks down! A typical bag of pre-washed spinach can reduce by 75 percent when cooked, so start with more than you think you’ll need if you’re serving a crowd.
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
Recipes for sweet potato casserole normally contain cream, butter, marshmallows, and sugar. While sweet potatoes offer potassium and beta carotene, they can be even healthier when paired with low fat milk (or almond milk), and a crunchy oat and nut topping instead of marshmallows.
This recipe is proof that you can eat all the familiar holiday flavors you love without going over the top—or getting a muffin top.
Low Fat Gravy
Gravy is the best part of Thanksgiving—at least some think so. It can be poured sparingly over the top of turkey, stuffing, veggies, and pretty much everything on your plate. However, turkey gravy normally contains butter, flour, and lots of fatty drippings from the bird. If you want to keep a gravy boat on your table that you don’t have to feel guilty about, follow this recipe.
Swapping vegetable stock or chicken stock for the fatty drippings from the turkey will help cut out a lot of the fat. So will using flour sparingly.
Thanksgiving has a way of taking healthy ingredients and making them very bad for us (albeit, delicious!). If you’re going to ignore all of these recipes, just remember one main rule of thumb for Thanksgiving: stick to plain foods. Turkey breast without a boatload of gravy, veggies without the cream and salt, and cranberry sauce without the added sugar are all good for you! You can even buy sugar-free candies for your household candy dishes to keep people healthier while snacking. Or, if you’re healthy every other day of the year, then give yourself a pass and just enjoy yourself this holiday.
*CandyStore.com is in no way a medical or nutrition expert. These recipes are to give you lower calorie alternatives to Thanksgiving, but shouldn’t be used as diet advice.