Thanksgiving Dinner Menu: Make Healthy Choices

Jenny Decker RN's picture

Thanksgiving is only a few days away. The menu is a hot topic as cooking will begin soon. When planning the menu for Thanksgiving dinner this year, make healthy choices. Most of the menu items that are traditional across America are actually healthy, but add sugar, marshmallows, sour cream, and other high fat or high sugared ingredients to a recipe and the healthy benefits are lost.

Healthy choices can be made in one part of the Thanksgiving dinner menu. This is the side dishes. A common dish that is a favorite in many households is the sweet potato. The sweet potato has many health benefits to it, so many that it is nearly impossible to list all of them. The sweet potato has plant proteins in it along with beta carotene. It is known as a good blood sugar regulator and has a high content of anti-oxidants. Potassium, fiber, and folate also abound in the sweet potato. The most thrilling part of a sweet potato is that it is low in calories. With all those health benefits, maybe marshmallows and brown sugar might not be so guilt-provoking after all.


Other healthy choices at Thanksgiving dinner might include side dishes made with green beans, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. These vegetables have health benefits as well and they can be cooked up in a number of healthy ways. One way to cook cauliflower is by roasting it in extra virgin olive oil. A simple recipe from Rachael Ray is to take bite-sized florets and spread them out on about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil that has been tossed on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let bake in the oven at 425 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Braised brussel sprouts is another healthy way to have a side dish at Thanksgiving dinner. These too are cooked in extra virgin olive oil with some butter and onions, sage, allspice, salt and pepper, and chicken or vegetable stock. The famous green bean casserole is also another healthy choice for Thanksgiving.

Pies and desserts are probably the best place to finish up the Thanksgiving dinner menu with a mouthful of sugar. No one can resist pumpkin pie! Pumpkin pie is a healthy choice, though! Pumpkin also has beta carotene in it. Beta carotene is good for night vision. Be sure to have pumpkin pie as a choice of desserts on your Thanksgiving table. Have a healthy Thanksgiving 2009.