10 Healthy Food Hacks To Try This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday. You get a few days off from work to hang out with your family, eat sinful amounts of food, and basically do nothing. Plus, unlike at Christmas, you don't have to buy presents for everyone and freak out whenever you log into your online banking account to check your balance. The only downside? Finding Thanksgiving recipes that are healthy can be... challenging. After drinking one too many beers with your siblings, gobbling up those almost-too-sweet marshmallow yams, and scarfing down a couple slices of pumpkin pie, most of us feel as bloated as a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. And even though it’s kind of worth the discomfort (and who wouldn’t want to be that Snoopy balloon?), making some simple ingredient swaps can lighten up your favorite dishes and ease your food hangover.

You don’t need to pass up the cranberry sauce or green bean casserole to eat healthily during the holidays. Though it can be fun to prepare some lighter side dishes (thanks, Pinterest!), nobody wants to cut all their favorite foods out of a Thanksgiving meal. This year, leave those stretchy pants in your closet, and try these 10 healthy hacks — because you deserve to have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too.

1. Go easy on the butter

I know, butter is delicious. But it's also super easy to replace with mashed bananas, applesauce, or coconut oil without sacrificing the flavor of your dessert or side dish. And instead of slathering butter on the turkey, you can season it with lemon, herbs, and olive oil.

2. Use fresh cranberries

Canned cranberries often have added sugars and preservatives. By using fresh ones and making your sauce from scratch, you'll retain the berries' natural antioxidants and impress your friends and family.

3. Swap white flour with whole wheat

Pumpkin bread, dinner rolls, pastries — Thanksgiving is loaded with carbs. Make the switch to whole wheat flour, which is rich in fiber. If you have a gluten-free eater in your family, try substituting coconut or almond flour.

4. Try mashed cauliflower

Love mashed potatoes? You can make a healthier version with cauliflower that tastes just as delicious, minus all the starch that comes with potatoes. Hummus mashed potatoes are another great cheat.

5. Sub in greek yogurt for sour cream

A lot of traditional casseroles are loaded with sour cream, so you can slash fat with this easy substitution. If plain greek yogurt tastes a tad sour to you, just mix in some fresh herbs and a bit of mayo. You can also whip up a greek yogurt dip to enjoy with the veggie tray before dinner.

6. Bake with beans

Yes, you heard that right. Black beans, chickpeas, and cannellini beans can all be used in desserts as flour and shortening substitutes. Try black bean brownies or chickpea cookies, and you'll never want to buy flour again.

7. Steam your veggies

Rather than roast, you'll maintain more nutritional value by steaming your vegetables. So pile them on your plate and enjoy!

8. Make your own stuffing

Store-bought stuffing is convenient, but it doesn't taste that great (and it's not that good for you either). Use whole-grain bread, low-sodium broth, and choose your vegetables to make a more flavorful filling. You can also get paleo-friendly with a quinoa recipe.

9. Replace cream with evaporated skim milk

This quick switch cuts fat in all those amazing pies you'll want to eat, and you don't even have to worry about adjusting the measurements.

10. Eat the white meat

Dark turkey meat has more calories and saturated fat than white meat. Of course, if you're like me and the dark meat is your favorite, don't deprive yourself. It is Thanksgiving after all, and dark meat does offer more iron. So gobble it up, my friends!

Images: Savory Sweet Life (2); jessicafm, JeepersMedia, whologwhy, jeffreyw /Flickr; Steamy Kitchen; The Scrumptious Pumpkin; Rebekah's Family Food & Fun; Family Fresh Cooking; Joy The Baker