Healthy Thanksgiving Food Swaps

Everyone has a different idea of what’s essential for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

Still, often it’s the vast selection of too many sides, sauces, and desserts that really pile on the extra calories and fat, as we all feel the need to try a bit of everything.

When losing weight in general, we are constantly faced with these challenges with food.

Here, we have some ways to substitute the main carb-heavy fat-laden culprits for healthy Thanksgiving food to enjoy your turkey and trimmings this year!


Swap: Turkey Dripping Gravy For Healthy Gravy

Gravy is one of the biggest offenders on the table, guilty of turning a plate loaded with vegetables into a calorie and fat-laden dieting disaster.

Using olive oil and chicken broth rather than turkey dripping saves saturated fat, boosts heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, and makes the gravy cholesterol free.


  • Mix together 3 ½ cups of low-fat chicken broth, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, ½ teaspoon of thyme, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and ¼ white pepper in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it is thickened and smooth, stirring constantly.
  • Continue to cook for another 2 minutes over low heat and serve immediately.


Swap: Bread-based Stuffing For Wild Rice Stuffing

This amazingly autumnal stuffing recipe uses wild rice instead of bread and combines the great flavors of a mixture of different seasonal fruits and vegetables.

The recipe also calls for the stuffing to be baked in a casserole dish rather than in the turkey so you can avoid the stuffing absorbing the fat from the turkey as it bakes.


  • Rinse ¾ cup of wild rice two to three times – until the water clears.
  • Place the wild rice and 2 ½ cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until all the water is absorbed, frequently stirring, taking care not to burn it – it should take about 30 minutes to cook.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add ¾ cup of chopped onion, 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, 1 cup of chopped apples (including the peel), ¼ cup of dried cranberries, and 2 cups of diced celery.
  •  Stir and heat through until tender. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning. Continue to stir and cook slowly until fragrant; about 10 minutes should be enough.
  • Combine the rice, the fruit and vegetable mixture, and chicken broth in a large bowl, then bake the mixture in a dish coated with non-stick spray. Cover and keep warm until serving, and garnish with a sprinkle of toasted almonds.


Swap: The Mashed Potato and Bread Rolls For Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Scrap the usual carb-heavy plate of bread rolls and double helpings of creamy mashed potatoes for this lighter take on the traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato side.

Instead of topping canned sweet potatoes with a glaze and miniature marshmallows, this version uses fresh sweet potatoes and a lighter sweet coating, which brings out the flavor of the sweet potatoes and saves calories.


  • To serve 8 people, peel and cut 2 pounds of sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 375F and lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  • To make the sauce, add ¼ cup of water, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of honey, and a tablespoon of olive oil, and whisk the mixture until smooth.
  • Place a single layer of sweet potatoes in the pan and pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes, making sure that you turn the sweet potatoes to coat them. Bake the sweet potatoes until they are tender, which should take about 45 minutes; remember to turn them once or twice to coat them.
  • Once they are tender, remove the cover and continue to bake until the glaze is set, which should take a further 15 minutes. Top with pepper or a chopped herb of choice and serve immediately.


Swap: Deep-Filled Pumpkin Pie For Crust-less Pumpkin Pie

The crust is the main culprit for the calories in most pies; swap your typical deep-filled pie for this smooth and spicy pumpkin pie, which makes its own crust!


  • Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9-inch pie pan. In a mixing bowl, beat 2 eggs, then add 2 cups of pumpkin puree, 1 ½ cups of milk, ¾ cup of white sugar, ½ cup biscuit baking mix, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of allspice, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  • Beat on a medium speed for 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth, then pour the mixture into the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes until it is set in the center. Allow cooling before serving.

All this chat about food can really make you hungry, especially when there’s a holiday to look forward to!

Although your weight loss journey does mean making sacrifices, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out completely… Think of this guide as a compromise!

Do you have any healthy alternatives of your own? Let us know your Thanksgiving recipe ideas by commenting below!

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