Last Updated on March 11, 2021 by Ellen Christian
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Have you ever tried to put together a heart healthy Thanksgiving dinner? Both my Mom and my husband have heart and high blood pressure issues. So, when I prepare foods, I try to keep in mind dietary restrictions and adapt the recipes that I use.
Heart Healthy Thanksgiving
In addition to making recipes heart health friendly, my daughter is gluten intolerant and I try to follow the Paleo diet. You might think that finding foods everyone can enjoy is impossible with these restrictions. But, you’d be wrong. It’s possible to have a heart healthy Thanksgiving dinner that works for everyone in our family.
What is a heart healthy diet?
It’s important to understand what makes up a heart healthy diet. Heart healthy diets are typically lower in saturated fats and sodium. They also include more vegetables and whole grains.
Ways to make Thanksgiving healthier
One of the easiest ways to make Thanksgiving healthier is to practice moderation. There is nothing wrong with a small serving of your most favorite Thanksgiving treat unless your doctor has said otherwise. But, that doesn’t mean you need to have a serving of every dessert on the dessert table.
Lighten up Thanksgiving recipes
Instead of making your stuffing from bread cubes, make it from brown rice. Brown rice is a whole grain and it is better for you than bread. This brown rice and apple stuffing is a great choice. Try my easy pumpkin custard recipe that is dairy, gluten, and sugar-free instead of traditional pumpkin pie.
Healthy Thanksgiving sides
Of course, what is Thanksgiving without side dishes? Thankfully, many of the Thanksgiving favorites in our home are already heart healthy. Instead of mashed sweet or Idaho potatoes, try baked and skip the butter. Instead, try adding a small spoonful of plain Greek yogurt to the top. Use a fat separator when you make your gravy.
If you want a few new side dishes to try, how about this Beet and Apple Salad that uses apple cider vinegar or these sweet potatoes with apple butter. I make this butternut squash with maple recipe almost every year.
If your turkey came out dry last time you made it, learn how to inject a turkey with flavor.
Healthy Thanksgiving dessert recipes
I know, dessert is just where it’s at for Thanksgiving. Who wants to give up their pumpkin pie? I know it’s a big hit at our home. If you’re looking for heart healthy Thanksgiving dessert recipes, here are a few to try.
- Pumpkin pie parfait with coconut whipped cream by Evergreen Kitchen
- Paleo pecan pie by Bakerita
- Healthy Apple Crumb by Chocolate Covered Katie
Focus on family not food
All too often, Thanksgiving becomes all about the food. While the dinner was certainly part of the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving, it was a very, very tiny part of it. Instead, it was a time to be thankful for what they had. Try having the kids make this gratitude journal and print out this Thanksgiving printable and let everyone color it. There is more to a heart healthy Thanksgiving than food.
Check out these heart healthy lifestyle tips.
Heart Healthy Thanksgiving menu
- Roast turkey – choose the breast over a leg or thigh
- Mashed cauliflower
- Steamed or roasted carrots, broccoli, or other vegetables
- Shrimp cocktail (watch the salt) or fruit salad for an appetizer
- Dinner roll with your favorite plant-based spread
- A small serving of your favorite Thanksgiving dessert
If you’re heading to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving and need healthy Thanksgiving potluck ideas, why not focus on a side dish that you love. You shouldn’t have a problem with the turkey or the vegetables. But, it can be a challenge to pass up the stuffing and mashed potatoes when you don’t have an alternative. This brown rice stuffing recipe by Iowa Girl Eats sounds absolutely amazing and would be a great alternative for traditional stuffing. Get the heart healthy Thanksgiving recipe right here.
Remember, it’s OK to enjoy your favorites on Thanksgiving. Just make sure that you do so in moderation. One piece of pie or one helping of mashed potatoes is not a bad thing. But if you load up your plate with nothing but splurges, you may regret your choices tomorrow. Remember that moderation is key when it comes to any type of diet. What’s your favorite heart-healthy Thanksgiving recipe?
More heart-healthy recipes
Ellen is a busy mom of a 22-year-old son and 27-year-old daughter. She owns 5 blogs and is addicted to social media. She believes that it doesn’t have to be difficult to lead a healthy life. She shares simple healthy living tips to show busy women how to lead fulfilling lives. If you’d like to work together, email firstname.lastname@example.org to chat.