As the traditional kickoff to the holiday season, Thanksgiving can set the tone for a delicious, but healthy holiday. Yes that’s right, Thanksgiving can be yummy and still have healthy dishes! Check out these easy swaps from the traditional to healthier choices…you won’t miss anything. That is, besides excessive bloating and weight gain!

Unhealthy Appetizer: Cheese and crackers

Cheese and crackers are not only high in fat and calories, as well as difficult to digest dairy and gluten.

Healthy Substitution: Nut pate and veggie sticks.

I love Mary’s Gone Gluten-Free Crackers, and this healthy macadamia nut and sun-dried tomato pate is also a favorite. It’s high in healthy omega-3 vs omega-6 fats (which we consume too much of), and a great start to any Thanksgiving dinner.

Unhealthy Main Dish: Deep fried turkey.

Deep-fried turkey has grown increasingly popular as a Thanksgiving main dish. Unfortunately, it’s high in fat. If you buy that turkey at the grocery store, chances are it is also non-organic.

Healthy Substitution: Organic, free-range turkey.

A little turkey on Thanksgiving is okay if you eat animal protein, but don’t overdo it. Have a small serving of white meat (skip the skin), and then fill up on delicious vegetable side dishes.

Unhealthy Side: Candied sweet potatoes

Candied sweet potatoes are loaded with butter and sugar – neither which will contribute to your overall good health

Healthy Substitution:  Thyme roasted sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C. They also don’t raise your blood sugar. To make thyme roasted sweet potatoes:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Peel and cube a few sweet potatoes.
  3. Toss potatoes with two teaspoons of coconut oil, some minced garlic, and some fresh thyme leaves.
  4. Arrange in a single layer in a baking pan and roast for about 40 minutes, until the potatoes are slightly browned.
  5. Toss with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Unhealthy Side Dish: Green bean casserole

Laden with dairy, fried onions, fat, and salt, this casserole turns healthy veggies into unhealthy fare.

Healthy Substitution: Green beans with red peppers

Double up on these low-fat, healthy, and colorful veggies. To make them, use the following recipe.

Green beans with red peppers

  • 1 pound of green beans, stemmed and trimmed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
  1. Parboil beans in boiling water until they are bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
  2. Heat coconut oil over medium high heat in a sauté pan.
  3. Saute peppers until they begin to soften, about one minute.
  4. Add beans and cook another minute.
  5. Add garlic and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.
  6. Season with pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

Unhealthy Side: Mashed potatoes and gravy

This side dish is high in fat, and can spike blood sugar because the potatoes are so starchy.

Healthy Substitution: Roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower is a great substitute for potatoes, and it has a delicious, nutty flavor when roasted. To roast cauliflower:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Brake one head of cauliflower into small florets.
  3. Place florets in a single layer in a baking pan.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn cauliflower over.
  5. Return to the oven and roast for another 20 minutes, until florets are browned and can be pierced with a fork easily.
  6. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast to give a cheesy taste, if desired.

Unhealthy Dessert: Pumpkin pie with whipped cream

Dairy, sugar, and fat turn a really healthy ingredient (pumpkin) into a sugar, fat, and dairy laden health nightmare.

Healthy Substitution: Raw pecan love pie.

This pie is sweet, healthy, and delicious. It contains healthful raw nuts, and it’s the perfect way to end a delicious and healthy Thanksgiving meal.