Every November we induce ourselves into a food coma. We get so excited to eat a traditional giant feast, only to feel sick to our stomachs after. Is it possible to feel free feasting while also staying cautious of our body's limitations? What if we could indulge in all the entrees, sides, and desserts by making them healthier? To feel both satisfied and comfortably full this Thanksgiving, try making small but impactful recipe changes to classic Thanksgiving dinner dishes.


Casey Dai

Stuffing is one of the most traditional Thanksgiving dinner sides. Even though the classic way of making stuffing is very tasty, its heavy fat density greatly contributes to that sick feeling that we sometimes feel after the big meal. Here are a few suggestions to reduce the fat and excess caloric content of stuffing. 

Traditional stuffing is made with bread, tons of butter, broth, onions, celery, and herbs. Thus, one great way to cut down the fat content of stuffing is to either use less butter, replace the butter with "light butter", or even use Greek Yogurt instead of butter all together. Furthermore, the type of bread used can definitely contribute to the health content of the stuffing. Instead of using white bread, it would be more nutritionally beneficial to use whole wheat bread, whole grain bread, or sprouted bread. White bread is a refined grain that does not contain the awesome nutrients that whole grain bread provides.


Casey Dai

Whether in the mashed, roasted, or fried form, potatoes always make an appearance at Thanksgiving dinner. A couple traditional Thanksgiving potato dishes include mashed potatoes with gravy or sweet potatoes and marshmallows. While both of these dishes are incredibly tasty, they can definitely add a lot of avoidable fat or sugar to your meal that might induce that food coma a little too soon. 

When it comes to mashed potatoes, I highly recommend making the mashed potatoes with Greek Yogurt instead of a large amount of butter or mayonnaise. Greek Yogurt is high in protein and much lower in fat than the traditional mashed potato ingredients. Ditch the gravy this year; and the Greek Yogurt will surprise you.

Furthermore, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, a very unique food combination, are a classic Thanksgiving dinner side dish. As marshmallows are literally pillows of sugar, there are alternative options out there that your stomach will thank you for. If you still crave a sweet side, try roasting your sweet potatoes in small chunks at 425 degrees Fahrenheit with a smidge of coconut oil, a drop of honey or maple syrup, and as much cinnamon as your heart desires. This will surely satisfy your sweet tooth, and at the same time, it will offer you more nutrients and less sugar!


Casey Dai

The first dessert that I associate Thanksgiving with is always pie. Apple pie and pumpkin pie are two of the most popular pies for Thanksgiving. Personally, in the past couple of holiday seasons, I have become so stuffed from the main meal that eating dessert seems nearly impossible. Yet, somehow a second stomach always appears for dessert time. I would never suggest eliminating dessert on such an important family holiday. Thus, I suggest these alternatives instead.

If you find that apple pie is either too difficult to make for Thanksgiving, or you know your family won't have room for pie after dinner, there are other options. Instead of apple pie, you can dice up Granny Smith apples and coat them in honey and cinnamon. Bake them at a very high temperature for 30 minutes to get them crispy on the outside but deliciously moist on the inside. You can always top this treat with your favorite nut butter too. 

There is also an easier and healthier option for my pumpkin pie team out there. Instead of spending time on a giant pumpkin pie that will either be wasted or induce a food coma, try roasting pumpkin seeds. Although this may not be a 1-1 replacement and will be a more savory snack, it is such a tasty one. Grab a bag of raw pumpkin seeds, coat them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Throw them in the oven until crispy. Roasting pumpkin seeds is way easier than baking a pumpkin pie due to the minimal ingredients required, the shorter baking time, and less of a mess. These seeds are delectable on their own but can also serve as a salad topper for your Thanksgiving leftovers the next day.

Thanksgiving, for me, has always been one of my favorite days of the year as it is a day full of family, food, drinks, and gratitude. However, I hate the feeling of a food coma. I know that it must be relatable to want to enjoy your feast without feeling totally sick afterwards. Therefore, I think it would be very helpful for our stomachs and souls to make these small adjustments to the traditional dishes we make. Try switching out the forms of bread and butter in your stuffing recipe. Play around with how you cook and season your potatoes, and you might be surprised how much better you feel by making these small adjustments. Finally, try making a lighter, but satisfying dessert for your family this Thanksgiving; they might be skeptical at first, but they will thank you later.