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The 9 Best Thanksgiving Foods (With A Recipe For Each)

by
author image Pamela Nisevich Bede, M.S., R.D.
Pamela Nisevich Bede MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a nutrition consultant with Swim, Bike, Run, Eat! LLC, an online nutrition consulting firm. Specializing in nutrition communication and medical nutrition therapy, she is a consultant to food-industry leaders in the areas of product development, marketing and consumer relations. A registered/licensed dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics, Bede holds an M.S. in medical dietetics.

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The 9 Best Thanksgiving Foods (With A Recipe For Each)
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With the average diner enjoying more than a whopping 5,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day, you might be wondering how you can enjoy the festivities while staying healthy and not totally derailing your weight loss efforts. Thankfully, we’ve come up with a few easy tweaks you can make to your usual Thanksgiving menu, and enjoy your favorite sides, entrees and desserts guilt free.

1. CRANBERRIES: Cranberry Orange Relish
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1 CRANBERRIES: CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH

While cranberries are an obvious choice to serve this Thanksgiving, did you know that one cup of this traditional favorite contains less than 50 calories? In addition, cranberries contain powerful nutrients called PACs (proanythocyanidins) that play a role in helping to maintain the health of the urinary tract, bones, teeth and immune system. With so many health benefits, it’s nice to know that there are a variety of ways to enjoy cranberries, from cranberry juice cocktail to the following Cranberry Orange Relish dish. CALORIES: 130

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

2. PUMPKIN: Pumpkin Morning Muffins
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2 PUMPKIN: PUMPKIN MORNING MUFFINS

Ah pumpkin! No Thanksgiving table is complete until this humble gourd makes an appearance. In addition to putting a smile on your face, pumpkin does plenty for the rest of the body too. A half-cup of canned pumpkin contains only 42 calories, yet contains nearly four grams of fiber to keep your digestive system healthy and loads of vitamin A and potassium which is important for heart health and muscle function. CALORIES: 274

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

3. SWEET POTATOES: Sweet Potato Puff
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3 SWEET POTATOES: SWEET POTATO PUFF

There’s no need to feel guilty for enjoying this colorful side dish as sweet potatoes boast the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, which, according to the National Cancer Institute, may play a role in cancer prevention. Added bonus? The complex carbs in sweet potato are easy to digest and a great source of energy which might just help you get to the finish line a little faster at this year’s Turkey Trot! CALORIES: 218

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

4. WHOLE GRAINS: Whole Grain Stuffing
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4 WHOLE GRAINS: WHOLE GRAIN STUFFING

There’s no need to skip the stuffing this year when it’s made with whole grains. Unlike fluffy, enriched white bread, whole grain bread naturally contains essential nutrients like energy-boosting B-vitamins and filling fiber. Added bonus? Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and reduces the risk of stroke. CALORIES 205

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

5. PISTACHIOS: Colorful Pistachio Pilaf
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5 PISTACHIOS: COLORFUL PISTACHIO PILAF

Try adding a little color to this year’s Thanksgiving dinner by topping a traditional side dish with pistachios. Packed with antioxidants, phytosterols, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats, pistachios are a natural choice when it comes to adding guilt-free nutty flavor, healthy addition, nature's heart healthy snack. In addition, one ounce of pistachios (49 kernels) provides approximately three grams of filling fiber and six grams of satiating protein, while being cholesterol free. CALORIES: 242

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

6. GOAT CHEESE: Goat Cheese and Artichoke Dip
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6 GOAT CHEESE: GOAT CHEESE AND ARTICHOKE DIP

Looking for a tasty topping for the crackers, fresh veggies, and pita chips on your appetizer tray? Goat cheese is a unique and flavorful choice. Low in fat yet packed with protein and essential nutrients like calcium, goat cheese is sure to be a hit as this year’s holiday party. Try it in an herbed spread, by itself, or in this delicious dip. CALORIES: 167

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

7. CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: Creamy Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup
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7 CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: CREAMY BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Cruciferous vegetables like the broccoli and cauliflower found in this delicious and creamy, low-fat soup in contain disease-fighting and immune boosting phytonutrients as well as essential nutrients like vitamin A, C, folic acid and more. CALORIES: 173

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

8. TURKEY: Tangy Turkey Rueben
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8 TURKEY: TANGY TURKEY RUEBEN

There’s a reason why Thanksgiving diners everywhere will be enjoying turkey this year; it’s traditional and delicious. Thankfully, it’s also low in fat (hold the skin please!), high in protein (four ounces contains more than 30 grams of the good stuff), and full of essential nutrients like energizing B-vitamins and phosphorus which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. CALORIES: 332

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

9. SPINACH: Autumn Spinach Salad
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9 SPINACH: AUTUMN SPINACH SALAD

Finally! A Thanksgiving side dish you can feel good about; spinach! With less than 10 calories per cup, this nutrient-dense choice is packed with iron, potassium, and antioxidant vitamins like Vitamins A, C and K. Spinach is also an excellent source of the phytonutrient lutein which protects the eyes against oxidative damage, harmful blue light, and has been found to be effective in the fight against macular degeneration. CALORIES: 187

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving foods? Do you love any that were included here? What are some of your best Thanksgiving recipes? Share your thoughts and recipes with us in the comments below.

Related: 10 Veggie Dishes to Make This Thanksgiving Super-Nutritious

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