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Wellness Wednesday: creating a healthier Thanksgiving menu

Posted at 8:16 AM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 10:16:33-05

IDAHO — Thanksgiving is coming up, and if you're already planning out your menu, we have tips to help you make it a healthier occasion.

Molly Tevis, an In-Store Registered Dietitian with Albertsons, says some of the pre-planning starts with your shopping list. Once you have your menu set, start looking at some ingredient swaps to boost a dish's nutrient density or cut down on calories and carbs.

"My favorite swaps are just simple things like switching out sour cream or mayonnaise for Greek yogurt. You can do applesauce, bananas, or avocados where you'd normally use sugar or more fats. You can even use black beans in place of flour so if you're making brownies or cookies or things like that, you can actually use beans as a substitute," says Tevis.

While your typical Thanksgiving plate might be loaded up with food, Tevis suggests making sure you load it up with lots of color and variety.

"A good tip is just start with vegetables. Fill more of at least half of your plate with vegetables so whether that's cooked veggies, or crunch and munchies as my family likes to call it--just the little bite-size raw vegetables, or even a salad. Whatever it may be. It may be the green beans in everything, but try to aim for at least half of your plate vegetables."

After getting your veggies plated, that's when you can add in your protein like ham or turkey, followed by the sides. Tevis also suggests pre-plating dessert with personal portions.

Tevis says before we even make it to Thanksgiving, the days ahead are just as important to plan for.

"Avoid skipping meals as we lead up to your big feast. If you skip your meals, you're more likely to overeat once you finally do sit down and have that Thanksgiving meal. Also maybe plan a pre-meal or post-meal activity so go for a walk, play a game, ride a bike. Just something to get some of that energy going and still kind of work in some movement for the day."

Some easy Thanksgiving recipes Tevis shared with us include a Winter Beet Salad and Sage Sweet Potato Stacks. You can find those and more ingredient swap ideas below. For more inspiration, head into your local Albertsons or click here.

Winter Beet Salad:

  • 1 package beet spirals
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 6 cups arugula

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet on medium-high heat, add beet spirals and saute until tender. Remove from heat. Whisk together vinegar, dijon, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, and thyme. Toss cooked beet spirals and arugula in dressing mixture. Top with pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Sage Sweet Potato Stacks:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 10-12 whole, fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tsp whipped butter

Preheat oven to 400 and pre-grease muffin tins. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, broth, and salt. Add potato slices and toss to coat evenly. Layer 4 to 5 potato slices in each muffin tin and drizzle the remaining liquid mixture over each stack. Cover the pan with foil and bake until potatoes are tender and browned. While potatoes cook, melt butter in a skillet, add sage leaves, and flip once until crispy (1 to 2 minutes). When ready to serve, remove stacks from the tin and top each potato stack with a sage leaf.

Ingredient Swaps:

  • White Flour: black beans, whole wheat flour, cassava flour, nut flour
  • Eggs: flax meal, aquafaba, chia seeds
  • Heavy Cream: evaporated milk, coconut cream
  • Butter: applesauce, pureed fig or prunes, mashed avocado, canned pumpkin, banana
  • Cream Soups: mashed potato flakes, pureed cauliflower, pureed silken tofu