3 Healthier Swaps for Thanksgiving Favorites

I wanted all of you to honor your body and health this upcoming Turkey Day and start the holiday season living The HD Diet life. Many of us overdo it when it comes to this anticipated dinner, and we continue the gluttony right until New Year’s.

Studies show that the average person gains a pound every holiday season. This doesn’t sound like much, but it’s also been concluded that we don’t ever lose the weight. At that rate, after five holiday seasons, you are carrying an extra five-pound package around your waist! So let’s start this Thanksgiving off by living decisively!

My Favorite Healthy HD Makeovers for Thanksgiving Staples

Roasted Brussels With Cranberries
Instead of Au Gratin Brussels Sprouts made with butter, cream, and cheese—which weighs in at 270 calories and 16 grams of fat for a ½-cup serving—make the recipe below, which will cut calories and fat by more than half. Plus, cranberries and brussels are a delicious combination with hydrophilic fiber to keep you full and satiated—an important component in the HD Diet.


  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, de-stemmed and halved
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2/3 cup fresh cranberries
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place brussels sprouts and cranberries in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, the vegetable broth, and the balsamic vinegar; toss to coat. Season with salt and black pepper. Bake in the preheated oven until the sprouts are browned, about 40 minutes.

Sweet Potato and Turnip Mash
Instead of candied yams made with butter, sugar, and marshmallows—which can weigh in at 300 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving—make sweet potato and turnip mash, which cuts calories and fat by more than a third.


  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Water for boiling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Boil the sweet potato and turnip in a large saucepan until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the vegetables and transfer to a food processor or blender, and puree.

Stir in the almond milk, dill, and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. (Avoid almond milk containing carrageenan.) Put in an ovenproof casserole dish and sprinkle with nutmeg over the top. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.

Crust-less Pumpkin Custard
Instead of pumpkin pie, which weighs in at 300 calories and 15 grams of fat, make crust-less pumpkin custard…it weights in at just 100 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. You can even have seconds!


  • 16 ounces cooked pumpkin
  • 10 ounces tofu, silken, soft
  • ½ cup maple syrup, 100 percent
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon allspice, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • ½ teaspoon ginger, ground
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Blend the pumpkin and the maple syrup in a bowl. Thoroughly mix in tofu, cornstarch, and spices. Pour ½ cup of the mixture into ramekins and bake for 15 minutes. Lower heat and bake for another 60 minutes.

More Healthy Holiday Tips

  • Use smaller plates, which will keep your portions in check.
  • Eat slower, putting down your fork and knife between bites and enjoy the company surrounding you.
  • Fill half your plate with vegetables—this will fill you up on fiber-filled foods with lots of nutrients. Of course, be aware of how vegetables are prepared.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch so you are not ready to down the entire turkey at dinner.
  • Many of the foods that are traditionally cooked for Thanksgiving are in and of themselves delicious, healthy, and filled with hydrophilic fiber (brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin dishes, for instance). If you use cooking methods like roasting, grilling, and steaming and don’t douse foods in butter and heavy creams, your dinner can be very healthy.

Last but Not Least
This holiday season, relish calorie-free moments like exercising with a friend, watching a mindless reality show with your husband, or playing board games with your children. Laughter is always the best nutrient for the soul, and being happy with your family and friends will give you the power to make good eating decisions from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Always live in HD and Decisively.