Thanksgiving is right around the corner and then Christmas and New Years! These holidays can translate into unneeded calories and extra pounds, so here at WIC we have put together a Thanksgiving survival guide. Keep reading for all the healthy alternatives to your favorite recipes and other ideas for your traditional Thanksgiving Day.

Planning a healthy Thanksgiving menu does not mean that you are stuck with bland or boring foods but it doesn’t take much to tweak your favorite Thanksgiving recipes. It’s simple to shave off a few calories so you will have no worries as you enjoy the dinner and the day! The Thanksgiving meal tends to evoke a feasting mentality and makes it easy to overindulge on your favorite Thanksgiving comfort foods. While we don’t condone holiday food guilt, we do recommend balancing your plate as much as possible without depraving yourself.

Turkey is a lean protein, so if you follow a baked recipe and avoid deep fat frying and use this recipe from Ina Garten, a Food Network writer, your result will be a flavorful bird without the guilt of consuming too many calories.

Turkey!

Ingredients

1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup dry white wine

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.
  3. Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast. (I test in several places.) If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey.

Candied Sweet Potato or Yams

The calories add up quickly with this dish when you start adding the butter, brown sugar and marshmallows for toppings. Instead, roast them in the oven with a little olive oil then use honey and cinnamon for the toppings.

Green Bean Casserole

Lastly, who can forget the classic green bean casserole! Typical green bean casserole recipes tend to bathe ingredients in a heavy cream sauce and buttery breadcrumbs or cheese. Consider instead this recipe from Eating Well Magazine that saves about 160 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat when compared to traditional recipes.

Ingredients

2½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon white or black pepper

2½ cups low-fat milk

1½ cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tips) or ½ cup shredded or crumbled cheese    Tip: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs.

Directions

  1. Preheat to 425°F.   Toss green beans in a large bowl with 1 TBLS oil until well coated. Divide between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once, and rotating the pans top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 TBLS oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. (See Tips)
  3. Transfer half the green beans to a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the green beans. Add the remaining green beans and top with the remaining sauce.
  4. Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 TBLS oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).
  5. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the gratin. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the gratin is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Get your creative juices flowing as you prepare your holiday meal. It’s not difficult to balance enjoying your holiday dinner and keeping the over indulging in check. Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!