Thanksgiving health tips can stay in the kitchen.  Your guests don’t even need to know you are taking their health in to your own hands.

When you’re preparing a holiday meal, your guests tend to have expectations about what will be on the menu. Just because you’re watching your figure, doesn’t mean everyone wants their main dish to be Tofurkey®. Use these tweaks to make your Thanksgiving feast a healthy one without scaring your family away from the table.

Bake the Turkey

Though you may have heard that frying the turkey isn’t that much worse for you than baking, it does still add fat content. In fact, dropping your turkey in oil can nearly double the amount of fat per serving. If you plan on having more than one serving, that will add up quickly. If you don’t have many people to serve, consider baking a breast instead of a whole turkey, which consists mostly of leaner, white meat.

Steam Vegetables

Using this method keeps the most nutrients in your vegetables. Because you’re not using any oil, there isn’t any fat added. Steaming veggies also makes them easy to digest. Bonus health points if you use fresh vegetables and skip adding any cheese sauce or butter.

Avoid Processed Foods

Even if you don’t eat a raw diet, you’ve probably heard about the unhealthy junk that can hide in packaged, processed foods. When you’re preparing a huge meal for a busy holiday, it can seem like the perfect time to pick up boxes of stuffing and tubs of pre-mashed potatoes. Those shortcuts save time, but add fat, sugar, salt, and preservatives to your meal.

Swap Ingredients

Smart swaps will let you serve the same tasty dish, but a bit healthier. One example is candied sweet potatoes, a typically high calorie dish. By eliminating butter, marshmallows, and some brown sugar and using maple syrup to add flavor, you reduce the calories by close to half.

Ditch the Soda and Beer

While you might not be able to get away with not having either of these, depending on the crowd you’re serving, avoiding them will help you avoid empty calories. You can make a healthy punch that everyone will enjoy. Keep it in a central location with cups and your guests will likely opt to get their own rather than find something else to drink. Try a recipe with digestion friendly ingredients, like ginger ale.

Better Mashed Potatoes

For many families, the mashed potatoes are as much a Thanksgiving staple as the turkey. Fortunately, you can find many recipes for healthy mashed potatoes. All of them involve mixing the butter, cream, and added salt in favor of healthier, flavor enhancing ingredients. Light sour cream and olive oil are two examples of the ingredient substitutions you can try. If you’re daring, you can swap the potatoes for cauliflower.

Make Your Own Cranberries

Jellied cranberry sauce has more than 200 calories per serving. Almost all of the calories come straight from the tons of sugar in cranberry sauce. If you make your own and simply use sugar substitute, you can significantly reduce the caloric content. Some recipes make use of a little pineapple and honey to add sweetness without all the sugar. Whichever recipe you choose, you’ll be getting a healthier dish than sauce from a can.

Whether you swap whole dishes for healthier options or make some sneaky substitutions, you’ll find it’s pretty easy to make Thanksgiving dinner healthier. Your waistline will thank you for your hard work and your guests just might, too.

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