Fresh options foster healthy Thanksgiving meals

By Jessica Christensen, Staff Writer

You are what you eat — a phrase no one wants to hear, or feel, on Thanksgiving. Everyone loves stuffing, but no one likes feeling too stuffed. Healthy eating can help cut down on the remorse that often follows a big meal.

Fortunately, there are several alternative recipes and healthy tips to help you feel more thankful, and less guilty, this holiday.

Using alternative ingredients in original recipes is a great way to incorporate healthy dishes into a Thanksgiving menu. If a recipe calls for sour cream, low-fat plain yogurt makes a great tasting substitute. Yogurt contains less fat and more protein, according to information provided by Skim, soy, almond or 1 percent milk can be used in place of any other.

For desserts, try frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. As a sweetener, substitute Splenda, Truvia or Stevia Extract in the Raw for sugar.

“I’m the one that makes the desserts for Thanksgiving,” said Afton Baird, freshman biology major. “And I always, always use Splenda.”

Substitution is not the only way to obtain a healthier meal. While shopping, pick up the low-fat or fat-free brand of ingredients to make each dish a healthier one. Using all-natural and organic ingredients, as opposed to processed ones, is also a healthy choice.

Natalie Wittman, senior Spanish major, has to use all-natural ingredients for her Thanksgiving meals.

“I have 14 food allergies,” Wittman said. “So we don’t use a lot of canned or processed things. Most everything is natural and we don’t use a lot of traditional recipes. We make things from scratch.”

Some of Wittman’s allergies include gluten, milk, vinegar, almonds and sweet potatoes. One alternative Wittman enjoys on Thanksgiving is homemade cornbread stuffing made with all-natural ingredients.

Although Tabitha Shera, junior nursing major, does not have food allergies, she says her family likes to eat all-natural ingredients as well — even for dessert.

“My mom is a super health-nut,” Shera said. “She uses natural fruits for all of our pies.”

Menus provided by have alternative Thanksgiving recipes as well. Wild-mushroom stuffing can be made from ingredients such as  low-fat milk, unsalted butter, wild mushrooms, fresh thyme and other natural ingredients. Other alternative recipes include a low-fat cider gravy and green bean casserole.

It does not take much to transform a classic Thanksgiving dish into a healthy and satisfying meal.


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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.