10 Recipes for a Healthier Thanksgiving Dinner

From stuffing and mashies to casseroles and desserts, Philly trainer Brian Maher offers lighter alternatives to Turkey Day staples.

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. It’s a holiday filled with friends, family and, let’s be honest, overindulgence—but it doesn’t have to be that way. By making small, healthy changes to the classic Thanksgiving dinner, you can save yourself loads of calories without sacrificing flavor. I’m talking about easy things like substituting gobs of butter, cream and salt for fresh herbs, spices and seasonal fruits and vegetables. It’ll make a world of difference for your waistline while treating your taste buds to something new and exciting.

So without further ado, here are your healthy Thanksgiving recipes for all the staples: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, casserole and, of course, the desserts.


When it comes to the turkey, flavor absolutely cannot be sacrificed. So how do you keep the turkey healthy without sacrificing flavor? By substituting butter, salt, and gravy with herbs, lemon garlic, and au jus, you can save a ton of calories without sacrificing any flavor. Try these healthy turkey recipes to save everyone at the table a few calories.

Lemon-Garlic Roast Turkey with White Wine Gravy
via Eating Well

Herb-Rubbed Turkey Au Jus
vía the Mayo Clinic


Stuffing can often mean an overload of carbohydrates. But by adding whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables to your stuffing, it can instantly become more filling (meaning, you’ll eat less of it) and more healthy. Try these healthy stuffing recipes for a flavorful and less damaging Thanksgiving dinner.

Pear, Prosciutto and Hazelnut Stuffing
via Eating Well

Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Raisins
via Cooking Light

Mashed Potatoes

Say hello to another Thanksgiving staple that can be high in carbohydrates. Large mounds of potatoes, gravy and butter can almost make you gain weight just by looking at them. But a lighter version of mashed potatoes, packed with herbs and vegetables, can make regular mashed potatoes seem boring. Try these mashed-potato alternates to stay lean this holiday.

Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”
vía the Mayo Clinic

Mashed Roots with Buttermilk and Chives
via Eating Well


Casseroles, while usually packed with healthy vegetables, are still guilty of contributing to the holiday bulge. In addition to veggies, casseroles can also contain fat and sodium from canned soups and loads of carbs from starchy binders such as flour, white potatoes and pasta. By substituting the high sodium soups and starchy potatoes, these casseroles really cut out the fat.

Green Bean Casserole
via FitSugar

Sweet Potato-Pecan Casserole
via Food Network


If you have any room left and if you haven’t fallen asleep under the table yet, it’s time for dessert! You probably think I couldn’t possibly find a way to make dessert healthier, right? Wrong. By using some extra spices, nuts, whole-wheat flour and even a little Greek yogurt, these desserts are a sweet alternative to the norm. Think of them as a guilt-free ending to your successful holiday dinner.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie
via The Healthy Foodie

Deep Dish Apple Pie
via Eating Well

>> Tell us: Do you have a healthy Thanksgiving recipe of your own? Leave your recipe (or link to it) below. Also, if you end up trying any of these, let me know how it turned out in the comments section. Enjoy!


Brian Maher is a personal trainer in Center City Philadelphia who specializes in weight loss and nutritional counseling. He is the owner of Philly Personal Training, a company offering convenient in-home personal training packages to busy individuals looking to improve their fitness levels. To learn more about Brian and his services, visit www.phillypersonaltraining.com. Read all of Brian’s posts for Be Well Philly here.

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