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Making Thanksgiving Meals Healthier

The.Tortilla.Guy's picture

Thanksgiving healthier

Keeping this concept in mind, we took a look at a recent "Butterball" survey conducted to determine top Thanksgiving meal trends throughout the country. Then we analyzed the corresponding nutritional information for one-cup servings (with the help of and and came up with some healthier alternatives. Here's what we discovered:



Certainly, turkey is the number one dish consumed at Thanksgiving across all regions. While men are twice as likely to prefer the drumstick, the majority of women stick to breast meat. Dark meat is also more popular in the Pacific states of Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii, with 41% of respondents in that region calling it their favorite part of the turkey.

Before: One serving of dark meat turkey contains 262 calories and 10 grams of fat.

After: Save five grams fat and 42 calories – and still satisfy those turkey cravings – by substituting a serving of white meat turkey for dark meat turkey.


Side Dishes:

The top five side dishes that Americans are most likely to have are mashed potatoes (95 percent), cranberry sauce (81 percent), candied yams (63 percent), green bean casserole (59 percent) and gravy (46 percent). Mashed potatoes are the most popular in the New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, with 100% of respondents in that region serving the dish each year. Candied yams top the list in the South Central states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, with 72% of families likely to serve it as a side dish, versus only 47% in New England.

Before: Consuming one serving of all of the top five side dishes in one sitting amounts to 1756 calories and 36 grams of fat.

After: Save 1018 calories and 32 grams of fat when you substitute squash for mashed potatoes, steamed yams for candied yams, steamed green beans for green been casserole, and clear broth for gravy. Save 49 grams of sugar and 158 calories when you use low-sugar cranberry sauce. If you don’t want to totally skimp on the good stuff, eat your mashed potatoes without butter and save 63 calories and 8 grams of fat.



Americans in the Mountain state are more likely that those in any other region to serve pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, with nearly 70% of families enjoying the traditional dessert. One in four people in the South Central region are likely to serve pecan pie. Many add whipped cream to the dish too.

Before: Enjoying a slice (1/8 of a 9 inch diameter) of pumpkin pie will cost you 316 calories and 14 grams of fat. A slice of pecan pie serves up a whopping 503 calories and 27 grams of fat. A serving of whipped cream adds 154 calories and 13 grams of fat.

After: A serving of fresh strawberries with low-calorie whipped cream comes to only 129 calories and 5 grams of fat.


Other items:

Half of respondents in the South gobble up giblets at their thanksgiving feasts. Families in the Mid-West enjoy their green bean casserole with buttered brown bread.

Before: Giblets bring on an extra 289 calories and 17 grams of fat. Brown bread with butter adds 413 calories and 18 grams of fat.

After: Skip the giblets entirely. Leave the butter off the bread and save 133 calories and 12 grams of fat.



Our traditional dinner consists of one-cup servings each of dark meat turkey, mashed potatoes with butter, cranberry sauce, candied yams, green bean casserole, giblets, gravy, pumpkin pie (1/8 of a 9 inch diameter) and whipped cream.

Total Traditional Meal Calories: 2777

Total Traditional Meal Fat (g): 90

Our low-fat dinner consists of one-cup servings each of white meat turkey, squash, steamed yams, low-sugar cranberry sauce, steamed green beans, clear broth, strawberries and low-calorie whipped cream.

Total Low-Fat Meal Calories: 929

Total Low-Fat Meal Fat (g): 14


Our lighter traditional dinner consists of one-cup servings each of white meat turkey, mashed potatoes without butter, candied yams, low-sugar cranberry sauce, green beans with 1 tsp. olive oil, clear broth, and pumpkin pie.

Total Lighter Traditional Meal Calories: 1554

Total Lighter Traditional Meal Fat (g): 42


Image Courtesy: loveandhomemaderecipes 

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Making Thanksgiving Meals Healthier