Many of the foods most associated with holiday meals can actually be good for you and, because they’re filling, leave you feeling satisfied with small servings.
Skinless white turkey meat tops the list. A 3-ounce slice has 26 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of saturated fat and just 130 calories.
Skip the gravy, but enjoy some homemade cranberry sauce, which typically has 27 calories per tablespoon. Use whole berries, fresh or frozen, and cut the amount of sugar in standard recipes in half. Add zero-calorie stevia if it needs more sweetening once it has chilled.
Sweet potatoes pack a punch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for just 113 calories per half-cup. Slow roasting brings out their natural sweetness, so no need for sugar, butter or marshmallows. Add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg instead.
Pumpkin and other winter squashes are also great side dishes when roasted, and have just 50 calories per cup. Puree cooked pumpkin, add spices, and you have a pudding-style dessert.
One medium apple has about 90 calories. To make another sweet treat, bake apples (with the skin on for the most fiber), again using only spices to enhance the natural flavor. Besides cinnamon, try ground ginger or allspice for a taste change-of-pace. If you want to add crunch, sprinkle with a tablespoon of your favorite nuts.
Always keep traditional fruits and vegetables low-calorie and savor their natural flavors by using simple cooking methods like roasting, baking and steaming. Remember that ingredients like butter, cream and sugar are the real diet downfalls.
Harvard Health has more on the healthy benefits of turkey and how it compares to other holiday main dishes.