Thanksgiving Swaps



by Grace Iberle, RDN, LDN, CHC, CPT

Thanksgiving is known as the holiday where we stuff ourselves until we feel sick. There are endless amounts of food, and not all of them are healthy options. When preparing for Thanksgiving, or cooking in general, here are some cooking substitutions to create a healthier dish.

Instead Of This ---> Try This!

Appetizers Play with your food ---> Make a turkey out of cut up vegetables! Get creative!

Bacon ---> Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, smoked turkey, or lean prosciutto

Baked Goods

  • Oil: Substitute 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1/2 cup pureed fruit (applesauce, banana). Start by replacing half the amount of oil and adjust as needed
  • Sugar: Cut the amount of sugar in half

Butter (for sautéing) ---> Healthy Oils such as olive oil or coconut oil

Cream-based Soups

  • Evaporated skim milk
  • Light coconut milk
  • Pureed vegetables (potatoes, steamed cauliflower) to thicken

Eggs ---> Two egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute for each whole egg

Fattening sauces or gravy on meat/poultry/fish

  • Marinate meat/poultry/fish with healthy oils
  • Season with fresh herbs and spices
  • Top with fruit salsa


  • Sprinkle powdered sugar
  • Heat frosting and drizzle on baked goods
  • Fruit toppings

Gravy ---> Chill until the fat hardens, then remove fat

Lettuce, iceberg ---> Arugula, kale, spinach, watercress, romaine

Mashed Potatoes

  • Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter


  • Light mayo
  • Plain fat free Greek yogurt

Meat (especially in soups, chili, and burgers)

  • Use half of meat and bulk the recipe up with more vegetables (cut up mushrooms, onions, celery, etc)
  • Vegetarian sources of protein such as beans and Lentils
  • Ground turkey instead of ground beef

Poultry ---> Remove the skin before eating

Salt ---> Herbs and Spices

Sour Cream ---> Plain Fat Free Greek Yogurt

Toppings and Dressings ---> Less bread and fried onions, more onions, celery, vegetables

White Grains ---> Whole Grains

Remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving, to be thankful and spend time with our family, friends, and loved ones!