- Reduce reliance on processed foods and incorporate more fresh ingredients in your Thanksgiving feast, making use of seasonal produce like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, leafy greens, tomatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and carrots.
- Encourage visitors to contribute plant-based meals to the celebration, including options like salads, vegetable soups, skewers, fresh fruit and vegetable platters, and a variety of dips.
- Make healthier swaps in your recipes, such as opting for whole grain or multigrain crackers, using yogurt instead of sour cream, substituting zucchini or spaghetti squash for pasta, and choosing riced cauliflower over white rice.
- Minimize salt usage in your dish preparation, choosing to flavor your dishes with herbs, spices, vinegars, and spicy sauces instead.
- Consider adding protein options other than turkey to your table, such as seafood or lean cuts of meat, to help control the consumption of fatty, greasy foods.
Numerous strategies exist to present a health-conscious Thanksgiving feast, according to food and nutrition experts.
“Reduce your dependence on boxed and pre-packaged processed foods by preparing more meals from fresh ingredients,” recommends dietitian nutritionist, Mindy Athas, who is associated with Carroll Hospital, Westminster, Md.
There is a wealth of fresh seasonal produce to select from. These include pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, leafy greens, tomatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and carrots.
Embrace the Autumn Palette
“Incorporate a burst of fall colors such as orange, red, yellow, and brown. Use cherry tomatoes, bell or sweet peppers, and chopped almonds, dates, or figs,” Athas advises.
Livestock-Up on Plant-Based Options
Suggest that visitors contribute to the feast by bringing along healthy or plant-based meals. These could be:
- Salads – incorporate fresh or fermented vegetables, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and herbs.
- Soups – made from vegetables, beans, pumpkin, or squash and could be served in mini gourds for an extra touch of festive charm.
- Skewers or kebobs, with or without protein such as chicken or fish. Utilize a variety of brightly colored foods and contemplate grilling items like mushrooms, pineapple and peaches.
- Platters – arrange sliced fruits and vegetables, complementing them with nuts, fresh herbs, and a splash of lemon juice.
- Dips – experiment with hummus, guacamole, black bean dip, and tzatziki, a refreshing Greek cucumber yogurt dip.
Make Conscious Swaps
Make beneficial changes such as switching to whole grain or multigrain crackers instead of those made with white flour. Substitute regular or Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, use spiralled zucchini or spaghetti squash as a pasta replacement, and choose riced cauliflower instead of white rice.
Lay off the Salt
Minimize your salt usage, opting for fresh and dried herbs, spices, vinegars, and spicy sauces instead.
Consider Other Protein Options
Consider offering other sources of protein apart from turkey, such as seafood or lean cuts of meat. “Lean protein and fibrous plant food aids in controlling the consumption of fatty, greasy foods,” Athas elucidates.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide helpful advice for a healthy holiday season.