How to Turn Thanksgiving Classics Into Superfood Staples

Turkey Day is just around the corner, and that means a whole lot of feasting, imbibing, and giving thanks. Delectable as the dishes may be, though, traditional Thanksgiving fare isn’t exactly known for superfood-esque qualities. Whether you’re looking to up your turkey game, or are in charge of a signature side dish meant to please the masses, there are healthier alternatives to your favorite T-Day classics.

For a little help, The Cheat Sheet reached out to Alexandra Miller, RDN and corporate dietitian at Medifast, Inc. Through email correspondence, Miller provided The Cheat Sheet with five of the best ways to incorporate a little bit of nutrition into your feast.

1. Mashed cauliflower (instead of mashed potatoes)

Mock potatoes garnished with parsley

Mashed cauliflower garnished with parsley | iStock.com/rojoimages

Instead of falling back on your traditional mashed potatoes, give mashed cauliflower a whirl. Chock full of vitamins C and K, cauliflower’s health benefits far outweigh those of your typical mashed potato go-to. Thanks to the latter nutrient, cauliflower can be helpful for blood clotting and bone health. Additionally, SFGate mentions cauliflower may have cancer-fighting qualities, so swapping a batch of potatoes for these cruciferous veggies is a no-brainer.

Try this: A low-carb, savory purée starring cauliflower, with touches of garlic, buttermilk, and butter. Eating Well’s version has about one-quarter the calories of regular mashed potatoes.

2. Roasted sweet potatoes and beets (instead of candied yams)

roasted beets with herbs

Roasted beets | iStock.com

This year, ditch your typical candied yams. This traditional dish is, as Miller said, “not good for our waistlines, especially in conjunction with all of the other foods we eat on Thanksgiving.”

It’s not the veggies that are to blame, though. According to this Health video, sweet potatoes come with a wide array of health benefits. They’re rich in beta carotene, which is good for your eyes, and boast plenty of magnesiumm, which is good for your heart. They’re also loaded with fiber. And beets aren’t without their fare share of health benefits, either. Dr. Mercola’s website says they may help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.

Try this: As simple way to swap sugary counterparts for healthier alternatives, try this roasted beets ‘n sweets recipe.

3. Baked apples stuffed with oatmeal (instead of apple pie)

red apples in basket

Apples | iStock.com

While apple pie may be one of the reigning champs at the table, there are other ways to enjoy the natural sweetness of apples. According to Medical News Today, they’re a great source of flavanoids and dietary fiber. Plus, the phytonutrients and antioxidants found in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

Try this: For a healthier version of apple pie, or another decadent dessert, Miller recommends an easy dish. “Simply core, add old-fashioned rolled oats, a splash of maple syrup, hot water, and spices (think cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) to the center, then bake in the oven or slow cooker until tender. Serve with a scoop of low-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt,” She said. Or, if you just can’t let the idea of apple pie go, at least give a healthier apple crisp a try.

4. Crustless pumpkin pie (instead of traditional)

Pumpkin Pie, whipped cream

Crustless pumpkin pie | iStock.com

You can’t have a proper Thanksgiving Day feast without pumpkin pie, which is why finding a healthier version of the holiday staple is key. While pumpkin comes with a wide array of benefits, like helping to boost vision and potentially lowering blood pressure, its nutritional value is quickly cheapened when consumed in pie form. By going sans crust, you’ll still be getting all the flavor without sacrificing the health-promoting nutrients.

Try this: Crustless pies can be tricky, so finding the right recipe is key. And this crustless pumpkin pie from Betty Crocker is the way to go. You’ll still reap all the sweet goodness you expect to find in the post-dinner classic.

5. Steamed green beans (instead of green bean casserole)

green beans in pot of water

Green beans | iStock.com

Instead of your traditional green bean casserole, simplify your veggie dish by scratching the casserole part. The additional ingredients like canned cream soup and French-fried onions make the otherwise healthy veggie into a rich dish full of unhealthy fats and sodium. But don’t forgo green beans completely. SFGate says they’re rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron.

Try this: “By simply switching to steamed green beans tossed with a small amount of garlic infused olive oil, you’ll be saving on calories and sodium while also opting for a heart-healthy fat,” Miller said. Not to mention, steaming green beans is far less labor intensive than making an entire casserole, right?