Don't Mess with Traditions
While I absolutely love to play with recipes and make them more healthy, some recipes are just meant to be left alone. If you have ever tried mindful eating then you know that there is more to food than taste or nutritional value. Food is emotion, it is mouthfeel, it is wafting scents from the kitchen, and memories that are attached to occasions.
What meal is more traditional and evokes more emotions than Thanksgiving?
Many times when you "clean up" a recipe or try to make a healthy version it loses some of the impact- much like grandma's cookies when you try to make them yourself 20 years later. Here are some ways that you can add a nutritional boost to without sacrificing the very thing that makes it special.
1. Titrate down the sugar- many times you can cut a few calories by cutting 1/4 to 1/2 of the sugar and no one notices. Be careful with cookies- brown sugar makes cookies soft, white sugar adds crispiness, so depending on what you like about a cookie don't mess with the main ingredient.
2. Switch your fat- ounce for ounce fat has the same calorie load, so really the goal here is to aim for a more healthy fat option. Some recipes work well with applesauce or pureed prunes in place of fat, other times you can switch out for coconut oil or canola oil instead.
3. Bulk up- swap some of that plain flour for whole wheat. Not too much, 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour is all. Whole wheat flour will change the mouthfeel so less is best. The advantage is in increasing the fiber and making the cookies a little bit more filling, encouraging smaller portions.
4. Measure it out- so many recipes call for ingredients "to taste" like butter, salt, heavy cream in mashed potatoes. Try to get a little more specific- trust me no one notices the difference between a stick of butter and 1/2 a stick of butter in the mashed potatoes.
5. Sneaky swaps- some traditional foods are more forgiving of swaps- adding mashed cauliflower to mashed potatoes, using a healthier meat choice in stuffing like turkey sausage, or even swapping out homemade whole cranberry sauce for that canned shaped cranberry jelly.
Have fun playing around, get creative, but remember to honor the traditions that make it special.