back to top

We’ve updated our privacy notice and cookie policy. Learn more about cookies, including how to disable them, and find out how we collect your personal data and what we use it for.


13 Healthy Thanksgiving Tricks That No One Will Even Notice

I mean, wouldn't it be cool to not have to double over on the couch after dinner?

Posted on

1. Make a super-rich, extra-flavorful poultry stock that you can use to add a ton of savory flavor to dishes without adding any extra fat.

Macey Foronda / BuzzFeed

Make a basic chicken stock, but add the turkey neck that comes inside your turkey to the chicken bones. When it's done, simmer it on the stove until it's reduced by half. This makes it extra flavorful.

Use that extra-rich stock in your favorite stuffing recipe, and cut the amount of butter or fat in half.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

The fortified stock has a lot of flavor, so the finished stuffing won't feel any less decadent or savory, and there will still be enough fat in the stuffing to keep it from drying out.


2. Slow-roast your sweet potatoes so that they're maximally sweet without any added sugar.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Cut 3 lbs sweet potatoes into ¾-inch pieces, toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and a little salt and pepper, and spread onto two baking sheets. Roast in a 325°F oven until the undersides are browned, about 40 minutes. Flip the sweet potatoes and roast until they're soft throughout and both sides are nicely browned, about 40 minutes more.

3. Add cauliflower to your mashed potatoes.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Mashed cauliflower admittedly doesn't taste much like the real thing, but adding cauliflower purée to traditional mashed potatoes makes them a little bit lighter without compromising their taste.

Follow your favorite mashed potato recipe, but only use three-fifths the amount of potatoes called for, and replace the remaining potatoes with cauliflower — so, if the recipe calls for five pounds of potatoes, you'll use three pound of potatoes and two pounds of cauliflower. Cook the potatoes according to the recipe directions. Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into florets and steam by putting the florets in a microwave-safe bowl with a little water, covering tightly, and microwaving on high for four to five minutes, until soft. Let the cauliflower cool slightly, drain it, then puree it in a blender with just enough milk to make the blades turn. When you're mashing your potatoes, add the cauliflower purée at the same time you add any cream or milk.

4. Dry your turkey thoroughly before roasting so the skin crisps without any extra fat.

Macey Foronda / BuzzFeed

Whether or not you brine your turkey, you need to dry it thoroughly with paper towels, inside and out, before you roast it. Then, roast at 500°F for the first 30 minutes to crisp the skin. Turn the oven down to 350°F for the remainder of the roasting time (two to three hours, depending on the size of your turkey).

5. Serve individual baked apple crisps instead of apple pie.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Core 8 medium apples without cutting all the way through to the bottom — leave about a ½-inch of uncut apple at the bottom — then cut away a little bit extra so there's a well in each apple about ¾-inch thick. Put the apples on a lined baking sheet, then sprinkle each apple with cinnamon and 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and top with 1 teaspoon unsalted butter. Bake until the apple is very soft, 30–35 minutes. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with your favorite maple granola.


6. Make homemade cranberry sauce with orange juice and just a little bit of sugar.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Store-bought cranberry sauce has a ton of added sugar, and a lot of recipes call for more sugar than you actually need. Here's a recipe for cranberry sauce that isn't quite as sweet but still pairs perfectly with turkey!

In a small sauce pot, combine a 12-oz bag frozen cranberries, ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup water, the zest of one orange, and ⅓ cup granulated sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook over medium-low heat until the cranberries burst and the mixture is thick, 20 to 25 minutes.

7. Thinly slice your Brussels sprouts, then roast them in a big ol’ heap — they'll get soft and caramelized without much oil.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Thinly slicing the sprouts, then crowding them on a baking sheet and roasting them at a high temperature means you can use less olive oil without burning the sprouts, since they'll create a lot of steam. The sprouts on the inside of the pile will steam and get nicely soft, while the sprouts on the outside of the pile will get crispy and a little brown.

Wash and clean 3 lbs Brussels sprouts, then add them to a food processor fitted with the slicing attachment so that they're sliced into thin rounds. Put the sliced Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 8 thinly sliced garlic cloves, two thinly sliced shallots, and some salt and pepper. Spread the Brussels sprouts over a single baking sheet — they'll be piled up and crowded, which is what you want — and roast for 25 minutes in a 450°F oven.

8. Make pumpkin pie filling with almond milk instead of evaporated milk, ¾ of the sugar, and twice as much cinnamon.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

The filling will still set like a custard because of the eggs, and cinnamon has a sweet flavor that will make up for the missing sugar. You can just follow the recipe on the back of your pumpkin can, substituting unsweetened almond milk for evaporated milk, cutting the sugar down to 3/4 of what's called for, and adding a little extra spice.

9. At cocktail hour, serve Campari and soda instead of beer, wine, or sugary cocktails.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Pour 1 oz of Campari over ice, then add 6 oz of club soda and garnish it with an orange slice. One drink has fewer calories and less alcohol than a glass of wine or a beer, but the sweet, bitter taste of Campari makes it feel festive and like a treat.


10. If you're serving creamy dip as an appetizer, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Here's a really great Greek yogurt ranch dip. You can also buy packaged onion dip mix, ranch dip mix, or spinach dip mix, and just use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

11. Tossing your green beans in browned butter is delicious and actually way healthier than green bean casserole.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

People might notice this swap, but most will thank you for it.

Wash and trim the ends off of 2 lbs green beans, then put them in a microwave-safe bowl with 3 Tbsp. water. Cover and microwave on high until they're cooked but still crunchy, five to six minutes. Drain the green beans, then let them cool slightly while you brown the butter

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. cubed, unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Swirl the butter constantly around the pan as it melts. Let it melt completely and start to bubble as you continue to swirl it. When the bubbles start to disappear, speckles in the butter will start to turn light brown (these are the milk solids) and smell nutty. As soon as this happens, turn off the heat and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the brown butter over the steamed green beans. Serve topped with 2 Tbsp. chopped almonds, if you want.

13. Make sure you have a simple green salad on the table.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Your Thanksgiving salad doesn't have to be complicated. Toss 1 lb salad greens with one cored and thinly sliced apple and ½ cup pomegranate seeds. Dress lightly with a super simple vinaigrette: Combine 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp. orange juice, ⅓ cup olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a jar, screw the lid on tightly, and shake until combined.