For many college students, the holidays mean a few things: friends, family, and finally a real home-cooked meal. However, no one can deny that the post-feast stomachache and fatigue can take away from what should be a truly festive time. By replacing some of your typical heavy Thanksgiving dishes with these lighter, more nutritious options, you can enjoy good food without feeling like you're going to die afterward.
I tried cauliflower mash when I was on a pre-college health kick and discovered it was even more delicious than its potato counterpart. Cauliflower is also much lower in calories, leaving you room for a second slice of pumpkin pie. If you're looking for some flavor ideas to make it even more appealing, check out this recipe for Garlic and Onion Mashed Cauliflower.
If you're looking for something a little more reminiscent of real mashed potatoes, try making them out of butternut squash. The squash adds a starchy texture while providing more flavor, antioxidants, and lots of dietary fiber, which can help you feel full and alleviate digestive problems.
#SpoonTip: If you prefer sweet potatoes over butternut squash, you can easily substitute them into this recipe using the same amounts.
Okay, so mac and cheese isn't a conventional part of the Thanksgiving feast, but who could think of a cozier, happier food to have on the table? Adding butternut squash keeps the creamy texture of traditional mac and cheese while allowing you to cut back on the cheese, and it transforms the dish into a perfect fall side.
They're called sweet potatoes, so why add the marshmallows when they already provide all the sweet-tooth satisfying flavor you need? Try this healthy oven-baked spin on French fries featuring everyone's favorite Thanksgiving staple.
Pumpkin spice lovers may be skeptical about mixing their beloved flavor combo with something so nontraditional, but these slightly sweet Brussels sprouts are a healthy, veggie-filled way to get your pumpkin spice fill. Besides, who doesn't love maple syrup on literally anything? If you're not feeling as adventurous, try this recipe for simple Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Butter.
Green beans are a staple at my family's Thanksgiving table each year. In my opinion, simply cooking them in a pan with garlic and olive oil is always the way to go. Check out this recipe, which includes some red chili flakes for a little extra kick.
OMG. PESTO. My inner Italian is so excited right now. Roasted carrots are a perfect fall flavor, and using different colors like this Spoon writer did will add a festive flair to your feast. Plus, pesto.
8. Fall Hash
This substitute for bread-based stuffings is made with fruit, veggies, walnuts, and spices, helping to lower the carb and sugar count of your meal without sacrificing flavor. Plus, fewer carbs means you're less likely to experience the infamous post-Thanksgiving feast crash, giving you more time to eat, drink and be merry.
Squash screams Thanksgiving. Stuffing screams Thanksgiving. Why not combine the two? This glazed acorn squash is stuffed with rice, mushrooms, almonds, and kale. If you're feeling squash overload from your mash or your mac, feel free to just make a big batch of the rice mixture to use as your stuffing instead.
Okay, I know that gluten-free doesn't necessarily equate to healthier, but this recipe uses a mix of almond meal and coconut flour in place of traditional flour, both of which are used often in the Paleo diet trend and contain lots of healthy fats rather than simple carbs.#SpoonTip: If muffins don't feel dessert-y enough for you, indulge a bit by topping them with simple cream cheese frosting. pumpkin brownies. The recipe replaces the eggs, oil, and water that usually accompany boxed cake mix with plain old pumpkin puree, which is praised for being low-calorie and high-fiber. It adds a Thanksgiving feel and makes the brownies incredibly moist, creating a rich end to your feast.
Whether you have a dietary restriction, are trying to avoid the freshman 15, or just want to eat a little healthier, simply swapping out some typical Thanksgiving side dishes for these recipes will help keep you from completely derailing over the holidays.
While making every single one might be a bit aggressive, try choosing a squash-based recipe, a veggie, a stuffing, and a dessert to accompany your turkey for a balanced, delicious feast.