By Melinda Hershey, Staff Writer
You might look at your Thanksgiving table and become overwhelmed by the sea of fattening dishes. However, not everything in your holiday feast is terrible for you; there are several traditional dishes that actually serve up a fair amount of good-for-you nutrients. Here's what to fill up on to feel satisfied (without feeling stuffed like a turkey).
The star of your Thanksgiving feast might just be the healthiest feature of your meal! Turkey breast is naturally low in fat, high in protein, and filling to boot. A 3-ounce serving of white meat turkey generally clocks in around 150 calories. Just avoid deep-frying your bird, go easy on the butter and salt, and remove any extra skin before eating. Also avoid the darker meat from drumsticks and wings, as it tends to be fattier. Check out our tips for how to roast the perfect turkey!
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C, which makes them a filling and nutrient-dense choice for a Thanksgiving side. Baked or roasted sweet potatoes are usually a good choice; a typical medium sweet potato is just 103 calories. Add a small smear of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a treat--but skip the sugary, marshmallow-topped casseroles!
Brussels sprouts are an excellent way to get in some green on Thanksgiving Day. They're a great source of vitamin C, and are surprisingly melt-in-your-mouth delicious when roasted. One cup of Brussels sprouts roasted in a tablespoon of olive oil weighs in at 157 calories, most of which are from the olive oil. This Brussels sprouts recipe has all the holiday flavors you crave!
Butternut squash soup is chock-full of vitamins A and C, and its mellow, nutty sweetness is thoroughly satisfying. At 100 calories or less for an 8-ounce serving, starting with this soup will help you fill up on minimal calories before the main event, which can curb your desire to overeat.
Sauteed greens are a classic savory Southern Thanksgiving tradition. Whether they're smoky, citrusy, or mixed with a touch of bacon, greens pack a mean punch of vitamins K, A and C, fiber, manganese, folate and calcium. Fill up on kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens or turnip greens for a healthy boost! A 4-ounce serving is only 70 calories, mostly from the oil used for sautéing.
Root veggies, including parsnips, carrots, turnips and beets, are naturally low in fat and calories and high in fiber, vitamins and cancer-fighting antioxidants. These hearty vegetables take on a sweet, caramelized flavor when roasted in the oven and serve up about 150 calories for a filling one-cup serving. Plus, they'll look beautiful and add some color to your table! Try this recipe for perfect roasted veggies every time.
By themselves, mashed potatoes aren't terribly bad for you. Potatoes are a good source of filling fiber, potassium and vitamins C and B-6. Just avoid the gravy boat and extra butter! A half-cup serving of mashed potatoes is usually 150-200 calories, so you won't break the calorie bank by adding a modest portion to your plate. This garlic mashed potato recipe is a classic!
Pumpkin is packed with fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C. Because it's virtually fat free, it makes for one of the lightest pie fillings you can find at your Thanksgiving table. A typical slice of pumpkin pie contains about 300 calories or less. By comparison, a slice of gooey pecan pie can pack in as many as 500 calories per slice thanks to all the nuts and dense, sugary filling. This pumpkin pie recipe is one of our favorites!
If your favorites didn't make the lighter list, don't worry! You can still enjoy all holiday foods in moderation. Just remember to fill a majority of your plate with veggies and lean proteins—and reserve a smaller spot for calorie-dense casseroles and desserts. Happy Holidays!
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