At first glance, the typical Thanksgiving feast appears to be a healthy, balanced meal. There’s the lean protein (turkey), the healthy carb (potatoes), and of course, some fruit (cranberry sauce) and veggies (maybe green beans). However, by the time all the butter, sugar, and marshmallows are added, healthy has left the building. But flavorful doesn’t have to equate to fat and sugar. If you’re trying to keep it healthy this Thanksgiving, here are 5 ingredients to make sure you have on hand, and a few ideas on how to use them.
1. Oranges: They’re the color of the season, and a great way to sweeten your sides!
- Instead of slathering butter on your vegetables, squeeze a fresh orange over them. Veggies like green beans, butternut squash, carrots, and broccoli will all taste great. Grate some zest on top as the finishing touch.
- Cut down on sugar by adding a little orange juice and diced oranges to your cranberry sauce.
- Grains like brown rice, barley, and quinoa also taste delicious with some squeezed orange juice instead of added oil or butter.
- Use orange garnishes for your serving trays, or add orange slices to your water glasses.
2. Cinnamon: Having the aroma of cinnamon in your home is reason enough to use it!
- You won’t even miss the marshmallows when you whisk some cinnamon into your mashed sweet potatoes.
- Toss some cinnamon in with your carrots and butternut squash to enhance the natural sweetness of your vegetables without having to add brown sugar.
- You can cut down on cream and sugar if you brew cinnamon in your coffee (cinnamon sticks make great stirrers).
- Sprinkle a little on top of the whipped cream on desserts.
3. Ginger: A little ginger can provide a lot of flavor. When your food is flavorful, you’ll find you don’t need to add as much butter, oil, sugar, or salt. You can use minced fresh ginger or powdered ginger.
- Spice up your turkey gravy with a little ginger.
- Kick-up your carbs like mashed sweet potatoes or any grain.
- They’ll be craving your cranberry sauce with ginger.
4. Roasted Garlic: Roasted garlic actually has a creamy texture similar to butter. So think about using it in a dish where you may substitute it for butter, or at least part of the butter. Some possibilities are adding it to mashed potatoes, any vegetable, stuffing, or grain. You can even spread it on bread!
5. Sage: Dried sage leaves have a smoky flavor similar to bacon—without all the fat! You can add these to stuffing, mushrooms, gravy, and roasted potatoes with adding no significant calories.
Best of all, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one of the above ingredients per dish. Try combining them and see which ones you prefer together. Have fun experimenting and have a happy Thanksgiving!