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How to Cook a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner That Tastes Delicious

By Matthew Thompson, November 15, 2011 - 9:00am

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How to Cook a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner That Tastes Delicious

Q: “How can I cook a healthier Thanksgiving meal that still tastes delicious?”

A: As someone concerned about my health (and that of people close to me), I tend to have slightly mixed feelings when it comes to the Thanksgiving meal. On the one hand: Turkey! Gravy! Stuffing! Mashed potatoes! You’d have to be a total holiday Grinch not to look forward to a meal like that. On the other hand, for anyone who struggles to manage his or her weight (or has a long-term condition like diabetes to contend with), Turkey Day can represent the beginning of a calorie-rich season of limited control and endless temptation. Surely there must be some way to strike a balance.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t think there was! In fact, we at EatingWell have a step-by-step plan for ditching calories from your Thanksgiving menu without ditching flavor. In the meantime, here’s my main advice for those hoping to slim-down their Thanksgiving menu:

Ditch crutch fats. Sure, a bit of butter makes anything taste good, but it’s not the only way to boost flavor! Too often, I think, a bit of fat is used as a safety net by chefs. Worried your stuffing won’t taste good? Add butter. Worried your turkey will dry out? Butter. It’s a lazy chef’s cure-all!

But don’t you be a lazy chef. If you want to make sure your turkey stays moist, follow a reliable recipe and don’t overcook it—it’ll taste great without the added fat, believe me! If you want a delicious stuffing, boost its flavor with quality ingredients, chicken stock and flavorful herbs. By selecting the right recipe and ingredients, you can actually up the amount of flavor in your cooking while still cutting fat.

Countdown to Thanksgiving

For the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, we'll be answering your most pressing Thanksgiving cooking questions and offering up delicious Thanksgiving recipes, easy cooking advice and essential tips for making your Thanksgiving a meal to remember.

How do you make your Thanksgiving meal healthier? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Matthew Thompson, Healthy Cooking Blog, Holidays, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Countdown

Matthew Thompson
Matthew Thompson is a former associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.

Matthew asks: How do you make your Thanksgiving meal healthier?

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