Thanksgiving Meal Ideas: From Turkey to Dessert

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A Traditional Thanksgiving Meal

Traditionally, Thanksgiving dinner is composed of Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and a number of other staples. While these foods may be tasty, they are also often loaded with high amounts of fat, sodium, and calories. The healthy Thanksgiving meal ideas described below are good enough to please even the fussiest eater–while at the same time, will aid in the prevention of the health problems affecting the world today.

Baked Turkey

Though baked turkey is already a classic staple of many Thanksgiving meals, it is important to highlight its health benefits. Turkey is not only a great source of dietary protein, which is required by the body for many daily functions, but also is very low in fat and calories. To make this Thanksgiving mainstay even healthier, consider choosing Turkey breasts instead of a whole turkey for your meal. This will not only help to keep portion sizes small, but the avoidance of the dark, fattier meat limits calorie content even more. In addition, when basting your turkey, look for chicken broths that are low or free from sodium. While sodium is and of itself does not contain high amounts of calories, it can lead to significant amounts of fluid retention, which can make your weight sky-high.

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa salad is a great alternative to that other Thanksgiving class–stuffing. Quinoa is a type of grain traditionally found in South America, and is used as both a starch and protein replacer. While quinoa is very similar to rice, and therefore is often used in side dishes, research has found that it also contains high amounts of dietary protein. In fact, aside from tofu, quinoa is one of the best non-meat protein sources currently available. Consider adding cooked quinoa to chopped red peppers, purple onions, black beans, and cilantro. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, and chill. You’ll have a healthy side dish that is as delicious as it is nutritious.

Sweet Potato Pie

Classically, Thanksgiving dinner ends with a huge piece of pumpkin pie. While pumpkins, in and of themselves, are relatively healthy, the high amounts of sugar needed to sweeten these vegetables are enough to make anyone’s stomach turn. Instead of making pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year, consider using sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are quite similar to pumpkins in both taste and appearance–however, their naturally sweet flavor decreases the amount of sugar you will have to add to this dessert. Sweet potato pie can be prepared with the puree of this vegetable. To create sweet potato puree, peel the potato, and slice into small sections approximately one inch in diameter. Place into a pot of water that has been brought to a boil. Place the potatoes in the water, and allow to cook until fork-tender. Strain, and place in a large metal bowl. Add spices until seasoned appropriately, and bake in a whole-wheat crust. Enjoy!

In Conclusion…

The Thanksgiving meal ideas outlined in this article are intended simply as guidelines for planning your next meal. Experiment with different flavors to find the foods that taste best to you and your family.