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Healthy Thanksgiving recipes and eating tips

Published on November 10, 2016

Healthy Thanksgiving recipes and eating tips

Clara Vancura, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Health – Long Prairie

ThanksgivingFor almost every family, Thanksgiving dinner is an annual tradition. Unfortunately, for many people unhealthy eating and feeling bloated after Thanksgiving dinner also is an annual tradition.

Of course, portion control and eating only until you are full plays a big part of eating healthy on Thanksgiving. You also can help have a healthy holiday by selecting healthy recipes in advance.

Here are some things to be aware of when preparing your menu with the traditional Thanksgiving foods:

  • Turkey is low in fat and high in protein, but different parts of the bird contains more calories and fat. Approximately 1/4 pound of turkey breast with no skin contains only 161 calories and 4 grams of fat. Eating white turkey breast with skin or dark turkey meat without skin adds 30 calories and doubles the amount of fat.
  • Watch out for stuffing and the amount of salt it contains. One serving of boxed stuffing contains 429 milligrams of sodium, which is equal to 1/5th the total amount of sodium a healthy adult should eat in a day.
  • Cranberries are naturally high in fiber and low in sugar so they aren’t very sweet. To make them sweet in the typical canned sauce — lots of sugar is added. One quarter cup of cranberry sauce contains 24 grams or 6 tsp of sugar.
  • Potatoes on their own are a good healthy vegetable with a large amount of vitamin C. When adding butter, sour cream and cheese, the calories and sodium can get out of hand very quickly. The same goes for sweet potatoes if you add brown sugar and butter to them.
  • Anyone who has made their own piecrust knows they contain lots of butter to create the flakiness one expects. The typical serving of pie contains over 5 grams of fat from one layer of crust alone. If your Thanksgiving desert is a double-crust apple pie, then you could be in for double the trouble.

To help make the healthier choice easier, see the recipe ideas (see sidebar) for Thanksgiving taken from our healthy recipes on All of the healthy recipes on our website have been reviewed by one of our registered dietitians and aim to be part of a heart-healthy diet. Maybe you can find a new favorite recipe to share at holiday parties and meals at Christmas and New Year’s, too.

Health information accessed through is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We strive to present reliable, up-to-date health information on our web site and “For the Health of It” blog. However, this information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or prescribing. Please contact your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about specific content that may affect your health. Log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.

About the Author

Clara Faust, RD

Clara Vancura, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Health – Long Prairie
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