Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

During the holidays, it’s hard to maintain healthy eating habits. With all the delicious temptations, it’s easy to get off track. We have found a few holiday recipes that look and taste delicious, but are healthier versions. Everyone should be able to enjoy their holiday favorites. Enjoy your holiday guilt-free with these recipes. 

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Healthy Green Bean Casserole- Green Bean Casserole is one of the most popular sides at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Did you know that most green bean casserole recipes contain canned soup and fried onions which are very high in fat and sodium. With the version below, you are eliminating those processed, high sodium and fat components, but still incorporating ingredients that give it amazing flavor. 


  • 2½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon white or black pepper

  • 2½ cups low-fat milk

  • 1½ cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tips) or ½ cup shredded or crumbled cheese


  1. Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425°F.

  2. Toss green beans in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Divide between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once and rotating the pans top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. (See Tips)

  4. When the green beans are done, remove from the oven. Preheat the broiler.

  5. Transfer half the green beans to a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the green beans. Add the remaining green beans and top with the remaining sauce.

  6. Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).

  7. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the gratin. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the gratin is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

  • Make Ahead Tip: Roast green beans (Step 2) up to 30 minutes ahead. Prepare the sauce (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; gently reheat until steaming before combining with the green beans.

  • Tips: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs.

  • To add extra flavor to the cream sauce, at the end of Step 3 stir in 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage or parsley. Or make it cheesy by stirring in ½ cup shredded or crumbled cheese, such as Gruyère, Swiss, Cheddar or blue cheese.

  • Keep food fresh: If you're storing food in your fridge for a few hours or more, it's best to keep it in an airtight container or in a container covered tightly with foil. Foil is best at creating a barrier that doesn't let unwanted flavors in (or out) while you store your food.

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Light Pumpkin Pie- The holidays are never complete if you don’t indulge in pumpkin pie. While pumpkin pie is generally healthier than other pies, it still isn’t a great option. The pumpkin component in the pie is pretty healthy itself, but when you add in all the cream, butter, and sugar, the healthy component is definitely outnumbered. The recipe below reduces the amount of fat and sugar in the pie. Top it off with some frozen light whipped topping to decrease the amount of sugar and fat as well. 


  • Oil Pastry

    • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour

    • ¼ teaspoon salt

    • ⅓ cup cooking oil

    • 3 tablespoons fat-free milk

  • Pumpkin Filling

    • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

    • ⅓ cup sugar or sugar substitute equivalent to ⅓ cup sugar

    • 2 tablespoons honey

    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

    • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

    • ½ cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 2 eggs, slightly beaten

    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    • ¾ cup evaporated fat-free milk

    • Frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)


  1. To prepare pastry: Stir together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add oil and milk all at once to the flour mixture. Stir lightly with a fork. Form into a ball.

  2. Preheat oven to 450°F. On a well-floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten the dough; roll from center to edge into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. To transfer the pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin. Unroll the pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease the pastry into the pie plate, being careful not to stretch. Trim the pastry to ½ inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Fold under the extra pastry; flute or crimp edge as desired. Do not prick. Line the pastry with a double thickness of heavy foil. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake for 5 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.

  3. To prepare filling: Combine pumpkin, sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add egg and vanilla. Beat lightly with a fork just until combined. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

  4. Pour the filling into the baked pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil. Bake until the filling appears set, 40 to 45 minutes (the edges of the filling may crack slightly).

  5. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. If desired, serve with dessert topping.

  • Tips: If using a sugar substitute, we recommend Splenda® Granular or Sweet 'N Low® bulk or packets. Be sure to use package directions to determine product amount equivalent to ⅓ cup sugar. Nutrition Facts per serving with sugar substitute: 171 cal., 8 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 1 mg chol., 108 mg sodium, 22 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 5 g pro.

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Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes- Sweet potatoes are much better than regular potatoes in itself. What makes sweet potatoes go down hill is the amount of sugar, butter, and marshmallow that covers the popular holiday dish. The recipe below is a lower-calorie and low-sodium option with amazing flavor. It’s also an easy dish to throw together if you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. 


  • 2½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. Arrange sweet potatoes in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes; toss to coat.

  3. Cover and bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Uncover, stir and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown, 45 to 50 minutes more.

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Just before serving, reheat at 350°F until hot, about 15 minutes.
    Part of the holiday fun is eating all the delicious foods. Substituting ingredients in your favorite dishes still makes them enjoyable. Plus, it makes it a guilt-free indulgence. Be mindful of all the foods you’re eating during those holiday get-togethers and always remember that things are okay in moderation and portion control. Happy Holidays from your family at Athens Brain and Spine! 

*Recipes from