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Thanksgiving Food Made Healthy, Healthier and Healthiest

Simple substitutions for fitting this year's Thanksgiving feast into your fitness goals.

Catch a whiff of a perfectly browned, juicy turkey roasting in the oven on Thanksgiving Day and your mouth starts to water as your mind floods with memories of awkward family dinners past when your grandpa fell asleep in his mashed potatoes and your cousin announced he was dropping out of school to become a clown. None if it mattered by the end of the evening, of course, because you had stuffed yourself with so much complex carbohydrates that you could barely open your eyes or zip your pants. Whether you decide to go all-out with a traditional Thanksgiving spread, or you're looking for ways to consciously consume calories, we’ve got you covered. We asked nutrition expert Leah Kaufman, M.S., R.D which ingredients in these classic Thanksgiving dishes to substitute or exclude altogether to make your belly-busting meal healthy, healthier or healthiest.


Traditional Roast Turkey with Mediterranean Rub

12 servings Per serving: 605 calories, 35 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 65 grams of protein

  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) Butterball® Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkey, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup ground dry lemon peel
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

KAUFMAN SAYS: Turkey is naturally a lean source of protein, but it's advisable to remove the any excess skin to reduce fat further. The biggest concern to Kaufman is the amount of salt in the dish. "This entire recipe has four times the amount of recommended salt servings per day," she says. Kaufman recommends cutting the amount of salt in half and adding more of the flavored herbs such as rosemary, oregano and parsley. OUR ADVICE: Healthy: Remove excess skin from meat and cut 60 calories per serving. Healthier: Remove excess skin and cut salt in half, sparing nearly 5,000 mg of sodium. Healthiest: Eat white meat only (cuts 30 calories), remove excess skin, use only a pinch of salt and exclude sugar.   NEXT: Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes



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