Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas: Three Healthy Food Swaps

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas: Three Healthy Food Swaps

Sher Warkentin headshotPosted by Sher Warkentin, guest blogger

Holidays always seem to be a time of over-indulgence. But your family can enjoy the delicious dishes you love and still eat healthy with a few simple food swaps. Here are three Thanksgiving dinner ideas that let you indulge the healthy way:

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving without some pumpkin. For a healthier taste of these orange gourds, skip the sugar-loaded dessert and serve it as an appetizer instead. This spiced pumpkin soup makes a healthy alternative to other recipes for Thanksgiving as well.


  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups butternut squash cubes, roasted
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

First, heat the oil in a large sauce pan and saute onions for three minutes. Then, add all the other ingredients to the pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, simmer for ten minutes, and allow the mixture to cool before pureeing in a blender. Pour the pureed soup back into the pan and heat before serving.

Pancetta Green Beans

Green bean casserole may be a Turkey Day classic, but the butter and creamy canned soup are loaded with fat and calories. Lighten things up with these fresh sauteed green beans instead.


  • 2 lbs fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup diced pancetta
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    1/4 tsp pepper

First, wash and cut the ends off the green beans. Add the beans to boiling water and cook for five minutes. Then, drain and plunge quickly in a bowl of ice water. Cook your pancetta in a pan until crisp to your liking. Remove the pancetta, set it aside, and add shallots to pan with your pancetta drippings. Saute for three to four minutes. Add beans, salt, and pepper to the pan and saute these for five minutes. Toss with the pancetta and serve.

Rustic Apple Tart

You can’t have a complete Thanksgiving dinner without dessert. But as the American Dental Association explains, sugar-heavy recipes are unhealthy for your teeth. A rustic apple tart has all the delicious flavors of a traditional apple pie with significantly less sugar.

Rustic Apple Tart Recipe

Cut sugar intake with a rustic apple tart instead of a pie for Thanksgiving dinner.


  • 2 Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 Honeycrisp or Braeburn Apples
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 sheet pie crust dough

Start by peeling, coring, and cutting the apples into thin slices. Toss the apples in a large bowl with sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Roll the pie crust out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cooking spray. Then spread the apple mixture evenly on top of the crust, leaving enough room at the edges to fold the dough over about an inch. Brush the edge of the crust with melted butter and drizzle the rest over the apples. Bake at 350° F for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

What healthy Thanksgiving dinner ideas does your family love? Share your recipes in the comments!

Image source: Flickr