A Healthier Twist on a Thanksgiving Classic

A Healthier Twist on a Thanksgiving Classic
By: Jacqueline Gomes, MBA, RDN

Creating a healthy holiday season can seem like an impossible balancing act. However, prioritizing our physical and mental health can come down to making a few small, yet effective changes.

There is no need to deviate from the traditional plan – turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables and of course a tasty dessert are all within your healthy reach. Focus on quality over quantity, choose foods that appeal to you most and enjoy those, rather than eating for the sake of eating.

Tune in with your fullness cues. Eating to the point of fullness rather than feeling over stuffed can be tricky; it’s natural to want to indulge in all of the festive foods this holiday has to offer. Remember to Chew slowly and savor every bite, stop eating before you feel discomfort or distension. 

Here are a few tips to add nutrients to your recipes…

Stuffing: Add fiber and nutrients to your turkey stuffing by mixing in celery, onions, mushrooms, carrots, beans and wild rice. Even fruit like raisins, pears and apples can provide a colorful, antioxidant-rich accent to this Thanksgiving staple.

Don’t rule out fats – Swap out butter for a heart-healthier oils such as olive oil or canola oil. Mono and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts add crunch and flavor to just about any recipe. .

For your turkey…making a traditional turkey great, most people continue to roast their turkeys and it is a stellar source of protein. Go easy on gravy, you should be able to still see the turkey on your plate; however, if it is under a sea of gravy, I would say that’s too much.

Another option is preparing a turkey breast exclusively. This is a great idea for a small gathering of 2 to 4 people.

Vegetarian delights – with more than seven million vegetarians nationwide, it’s likely you’ll have a vegetarian guest. Combine grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet and barley with bell peppers, apples, dried apricots and nuts for a dish all of your guests will want to try.

Vegetable stuffing

Vegetable Stuffing

Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: 20 minutes

Makes: 6 servings


  • 1 yam, chopped
  • ½ cup minced Onion
  • 1 cup sliced white Mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped Asparagus
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin Olive oil, separated
  • 1 package (6 oz) STOVE TOP Stuffing mix for Turkey or Chicken
  • 1 ½ cups College Inn Chicken Broth
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil, add chopped yams and drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over yams. Roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet, add onion, mushrooms and asparagus, cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in garlic, cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Remove yams from oven and stir into mushroom/asparagus mixture.
  5. Meanwhile, heat broth over medium heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and Italian seasoning, bring to a boil.
  6. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray, add in stuffing mix and cooked vegetables, pour hot broth over Stove Top/Vegetable mixture, cover with aluminum foil and let stand for 5 minutes.
  7. Fluff with fork before serving.

Recipe by: Jacqueline Gomes, MBA, RDN