Healthy Thanksgiving Dish Alternatives

It’s the best time of the year – the holiday season! Everything kicks off with the Super Bowl of food, Thanksgiving. People tend to go overboard with the unhealthy food, but you can do some simple swaps to make your Thanksgiving dinner a little healthier. Even better? These swaps still have all of the fun and flavor of their unhealthy counterparts!


When it comes to your main dish, here are a few ideas to make it as healthy as possible.


  • Skinless turkey breast – removing the skin removes most calories from fat
  • White meat – the leanest part of the turkey
  • 2-3 portions maximum – a fist size is roughly 1 portion
  • Our healthier gravy – made from fatless turkey drippings; see below

Pass up:

  • Dark meat – has added fat calories
  • Butter and gravy – flavor your meat with fresh herbs and spices instead


Gravy is essentially made of the fat drippings and butter that didn’t sink into the turkey. Give this a try instead: gravy made with fatless turkey drippings. Let your gravy sit for a bit on the counter and then take off the top layer of fat. Also avoid canned gravy. It’s packed with sodium.

Bread and Stuffing

Do your best to limit or avoid these tasty dish fillers. If your carb cravings are overwhelming, try to make a stuffing using whole grain bread and low butter content. Load it up with onions, celery, and fresh herbs for flavor so you can get a taste of the good stuff without going overboard.

Mashed Potatoes

Turkey and mashed potatoes are a classic Thanksgiving pairing, but mashed potatoes don’t contain nearly the amount of nutrients of their healthier cousins, sweet potatoes. If you leave off the butter and sauces, these are a great alternative to white potatoes. You can make them sweet with a little cinnamon and nutmeg or savory with garlic, pepper, and green onions.


  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams


  • White potatoes
  • Scalloped potatoes
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Candied yams

Cranberry Sauce

A spoonful or two of actual cranberries is not only a great alternative to the sugary stuff, but it happens to be part of a superfood group that can help lower blood pressure, protect the urinary tract and stomach lining, lower bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL), and play a part in good heart health. Plus, they taste really good with turkey!