Health Advocate Blog

Easy Ways to Make Thanksgiving Dinner Healthier

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and if you’re hosting—or bringing a dish to a Thanksgiving dinner you’re attending—you’re likely busy in the kitchen. As you prepare your menu, consider the many ways traditional Thanksgiving dishes can be made healthier. You don’t need to completely revamp a recipe—even making one simple tweak to a recipe can make it healthier, yet just as delicious as the original version. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.


Get your festivities off to a healthy start! These ideas cut fat without reducing flavor:

  • When serving raw vegetables, use hummus instead of a sour cream-based dip.
  • For potato skins, reduce the amount of shredded cheddar cheese in your recipe. For example, use 1 cup instead of 2 cups and save 455 calories. 
  • For a fresh, tasty appetizer, make mini Caprese skewers—spear a tomato slice or grape tomato, a basil leaf, and a small ball or slice of mozzarella cheese on a toothpick. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.

Main Course

Many of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes can be made healthier with just a simple tweak or two. Try these healthy twists on traditional Thanksgiving foods:

  • Turkey: Roast it instead of frying it.
  • Stuffing: Cut your calories in half using turkey sausage (half the fat of pork sausage). Plus, add more apples and vegetables for flavor, and use whole grain bread cubes.
  • Mashed potatoes: Reduce fat calories by using low-fat sour cream or, better yet, fat-free Greek yogurt.  Or, discreetly sneak in more vegetables by making a “mash-up” of half potatoes and half mashed, steamed cauliflower.
  • Sweet potatoes: Instead of melting butter or marshmallows on them, sprinkle cinnamon on top.
  • Green bean casserole: Skip the canned cream of mushroom soup, which often contains a lot of fat and salt. Instead, make your own white sauce with onions and mushrooms sautéed in canola oil, whisked with low fat milk. Top with slivered almonds.
  • Other vegetable dishes: Instead of adding butter to your vegetables, try adding herbs like parsley, rosemary, or thyme—this adds flavor without adding fat.


Pies, cakes, and cookies are often at the heart of holiday gatherings.  Use these tips to reduce the fat and calories in your desserts:

  • For any baked goods: Replace white flour with whole wheat flour or almond flour. Use a 50:50 ratio of whole wheat flour to white flour, or a 25:75 ratio of almond flour to white flour.
  • For any baked goods that include added sugar: Substitute applesauce for half of the sugar.  Use a 1:1 ratio for this the substitution, and reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup. 
  • Pumpkin pie: Substitute fat-free evaporated milk for heavy cream. 
  • Fruit cobbler: Make a fruit cobbler or crisp without the crust.
  • For a fun, colorful dessert, serve fruit skewers—use strawberries, grapes, melon cubes, pineapple, or any of your other favorites! Serve with fat-free Greek yogurt for dipping.

If you are a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Coaching program, call us today to speak to a Wellness Coach about more ways to make your holiday meals healthier!