How to Make Healthier Thanksgiving Dishes

Nutrition spokesperson Michelle Dudash on Arizona Midday

According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat from snacking and eating a traditional holiday dinner with turkey and all the trimmings. And these figures don’t even include late evening munching on leftovers! Here I share my secrets to adding the wow factor to your favorite holiday dishes with less added fat, salt and sugar.

How to make your favorite Thanksgiving dishes healthier with less sugar, fat and salt

Yes, the calories you eat during the holidays can make a difference

The average person gains only 1 pound during the holidays, but most people don’t ever lose the pound of weight they put on. And overweight people tend to gain a lot more—up to 5 pounds or more. Plus, consider high sodium foods, which can cause bloating and wreak havoc on blood pressure.

How to make homemade Thanksgiving gravyGet on the real gravy boat

A 1/4 cup of jarred gravy has nearly 600 mg of sodium.[1] Instead, make your own with pan drippings, broth (either homemade with turkey necks or unsalted boxed broth), plus simmer with black peppercorns, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, carrots, celery and white wine. If you have gluten-free diners and need to whip up another gravy in a flash, try McCormick’s Gluten Free Turkey Gravy Mix.

Disclosure: I worked with my client McCormick on a recent television segment on this topic, however, they did not compensate me to include them in this post.

How to make candied sweet potatoes with less sugar for ThanksgivingSweeten sweet potatoes without the “candy”

Sweet potatoes need not be doused in marshmallows and brown sugar to taste good. Add natural sweetness with orange juice, bananas or cooked apples or pineapple. Add plenty of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. And a hit of real maple syrup and flamed Brandy goes a long way. Try: Ginger Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes

What I really put in my stuffing

The typical stuffing recipe contains a stick and a half of butter—unnecessary! Use a good-quality boxed broth with less added salt. Add plenty of thyme and sage, plus fresh parsley. Try: Sage Stuffing

The secrets to good mashed potatoes

Most importantly, use Yukon Gold potatoes for a naturally buttery tasting potatoes. Use low-fat or whole milk instead of cream, roasted garlic cloves. Then guests can ladle on your awesome homemade gravy. And use a potato ricer or food mill for smooth and fluffy texture. If you like red-skinned mashed potatoes, check this recipe of mine made with Greek yogurt.

Clean eating chef Michelle Dudash on Arizona MiddayNo need to butter up Brussels sprouts

Instead, sprinkle on garlic powder, olive oil, pepper and a bit of salt. Cut off the nubby stem, quarter and roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes until tender and crispy on the edges. Try: Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples

[1] Heinz, USDA Database

Disclosure: I worked with my client McCormick on a recent television segment on this topic, however, they did not compensate me to include them in this post. This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.


  1. Joyce Beebe says:

    i have tried in my adult life to minimize fats in our diets. My children have continued that lifestyle, as are my grandchildren. It just continues. My great-grandchildren are eating the same lifestyle. Everyone is happy, healthy and in good health. All of us are a healthy weight. All it takes is 1 person to start a healthy diet. We eat our treats, but its usually ice cream or pies with fresh fruit. We don’t eat candy bars or things like that. We live a life that makes us feel very fulfilled despite not eating junk food. Try it! Your whole family will love you for it.

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