Tips for making healthy, flavorful food this Thanksgiving

Forgo the marshmallows on your sweet potatoes.
Forgo the marshmallows on your sweet potatoes. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil

The holidays — especially Thanksgiving — are practically celebrated for their indulgences, from overly sweet sides like brown sugar-glazed sweet potatoes with marshmallows to stretchy pants for when you (inevitably) overeat. But if you’re looking to avoid the usual bloat, we asked Leith Hill, owner of the organic, health-conscious West Village café Ellary’s Greens, for some tips on how to make great tasting food that’s good for you, too.

Use coconut oil instead of butter

“Coconut oil is very nutrient dense,” Hill says. “It has a lot of flavor and richness — it can make it feel like you’re having something that’s a treat.”

Use a bag to cook your turkey

“It’s a great way to seal in moisture without having to baste your turkey in a lot of fat or paint it with butter or maple syrup,” Hill says.

Use yogurt instead of sour cream

If your sauce or garnish calls for sour cream, use a full-fat yogurt base instead, Hill says. “It’s much more nutrient dense and it’s a great way to cut down on calories and fat.”

Use dried fruit for sweeteners

Hill recommends raisins, dates and other dried fruits to sweeten vegetable sides. Otherwise, the veggies are just fine on their own. “Sweet potatoes can just be sweet potatoes — you don’t need sugar, marshmallows, maple syrup,” Hill says. “You can take a sweet potato, put the entire thing uncut in the oven and it’s perfect.” Similarly, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli are great roasted with just a little salt.

Use a quinoa or wild rice stuffing instead of white bread

“You’d use all of the same amazing seasonings but you start with a base that’s lower in carbs, less processed and has protein in it as well,” Hill says.

Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour

“It’s a really easy swap, and you’ll feel better eating something that’s more nutrient dense,” Hill says.

Use unsweetened pumpkin pie filling

“If you’re going to get pumpkin from the can, just buy the one in which the ingredients are ‘pumpkin’ — that’s it,” Hill says. “Same with fruit pies — you can buy the can of blueberry pie filling, but it’s so much better to get blueberries.” You can sweeten the filling yourself with coconut sugar, she recommends.