Eight Healthy and Delicious Dishes to Bring to a Thanksgiving Potluck

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In this article:

  • A Thanksgiving potluck can include high-calorie and less-healthy dishes. 
  • When you serve or bring a dish, you have the chance to make something lower in calories and more nutritious. Your dish can still be healthy and delicious! 
  • Here are 8 ideas for Thanksgiving dishes to share with a crowd while protecting your waistline.
  • Lark is a weight loss and health coach that can help guide you through the holiday season. Lark is available 24/7 on your smartphone to help you navigate this time period.

Thanksgiving can mean big gatherings with lots of food. Are you going to any of the following events? 

  • Thanksgiving or another meal that you are hosting.
  • A Thanksgiving potluck with family. 
  • Friendsgiving, or a potluck with friends.
  • A Thanksgiving meal at which you will be a guest.

The bad news is that a Thanksgiving meal can have over 3,000 calories, according to the Calorie Control Council. The good news is that you are likely to serve or bring one or more dishes. That means you get to choose what to make. And that means you can make it healthier.

Many Thanksgiving dishes are high in calories or sugar, fat, and starch. But you can make swaps. The Calorie Control Council suggests making recipes lower in calories. You can also increase their fiber and nutrient content. These are some ideas for healthy but delicious dishes to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck.

1. Veggie Tray

Appetizers can add enough calories for a day before you even get to the table! The calories in the following appetizers add up to over 1,000.

  • ½ cup of nuts
  • Handful of chips with creamy dip
  • Crackers with cheese
  • Bacon-wrapped shrimp

When a vegetable tray is there, you can eat as much as you want without adding many calories. Each of the following choices has about 10 calories per ounce.

  • Celery
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Broccoli and cauliflower florets
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Carrots

Eat as many vegetables as you want before the main meal. They will not put a dent in your weight loss plans! You might want to serve your veggie tray with a dip for others to eat. For yourself, stick to vegetables as much as possible. Dips can have up to 100 calories per tablespoon.

2. Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

Eating low-calorie soups instead of higher-calorie items can help you lose weight, according to a review article in Medical Clinics of North America. Another trick is to start your meal with a broth-based, chunky soup. That can help you eat fewer calories overall at that meal.

Many Thanksgiving soups are creamy, cheesy, or made with pureed potatoes. These are higher in calories. Mushroom and wild rice is a lower-calorie, broth-based, soup. Ingredients can include low-sodium broth, rehydrated dried mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, wild rice, onion, carrot, cabbage, garlic, thyme, sage, and black pepper. Just simmer the ingredients until they are well cooked. Brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grains are fine instead of wild rice.

3. Salad

Salads are another food that the article in Medical Clinics of North America says can help with weight loss. But only some salads count. If the goal is to keep calories in check, stay away from mayo-laden salads such as potato salad or broccoli bacon salad. 

Instead, start with a bed of greens to ensure that the salad is lower in calories. Then add ingredients such as hearty roasted butternut squash cubes, crunchy pecans, sweet pomegranate seeds, and a bit of salty goat cheese. The green, orange, red, white, and brown colors are attractive. On the side, serve a store-bought dressing or make your own with olive oil, dijon mustard, diced red onion, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and optional parmesan cheese.

4. Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is not just healthy due to its beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber. It is also beautiful, especially when you slice it crosswise so the ridges are visible. Roast slices of acorn squash with a bit of olive oil. Then arrange the slices on a serving platter next to a mixture of quinoa cooked in broth, diced mushrooms, pomegranate seeds, olive oil, and rosemary.

5. Roasted Vegetables

Roasting vegetables can be enough to make you thankful for them on this Thanksgiving Day. Just make a dressing with ¼ cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup of low-sodium broth, dijon mustard and pressed garlic. Toss about 2 pounds of vegetables, in chunks, in the dressing. Vegetables can include turnips, onions, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, beets, or yams. Then bake them for 45 minutes or until they are cooked.

6. Cranberry Pear Sauce

Are you ready to “wow” everyone with your healthy contribution? Canned cranberry sauce that holds the shape of the can when you dump it in a bowl. Homemade cranberry sauce seems so impressive to so many people. Yet it is easy to make. It gels beautifully. And you can make it with far less sugar than the 22 grams in ¼ cup of canned sauce.

Core a pear and cut it in quarters. Add them to a pan with ½ cup of orange juice, some orange zest, ½ cup of water, and 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the cranberries stop popping and the pear is soft. Mash the pear into the sauce. Add cinnamon to taste. You may need to add water to thin it out.

7. Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake with Pecan Crumble

Are you going to have pumpkin pie? Cheesecake? Pecan pie? Another option is to have all three in one…and for fewer calories! A slice of each of those desserts has 300 to 500 calories, giving you at least 1,000 calories if you have all three. This pumpkin pie cheesecake with pecan crumble has about 200 calories and no added sugar. And it is super easy!

Gather together 1 15-ounce (small) can of pumpkin puree, 1 lb. of non-fat cottage cheese, 3 ounces of low-fat cream cheese or neufchatel cheese, 3 eggs, 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and ½ cup of monk fruit or stevia for baking. Add the ingredients to a blender. Pour it into either greased muffin cups (about 16 cups) or a 9-inch springform pan. Top it with a mixture of ½ cup of chopped pecans mixed with 2 tablespoons of monk fruit (optional) and cinnamon. Bake for about 30 minutes or until set.

8. Fresh Fruit

It is hard to believe, but it is true. People appreciate fresh fruit. Bring a tray of fruit to serve at dessert, and you will have something to eat instead of high-calorie fare. Cut pineapple, pears, clementines, persimmons, and any type of berry are sure to be well received.

Lark can help you stay on track during the holiday season. Lark’s nutrition and weight loss coaching includes daily check-ins, meal logging features, and instant feedback. And if motivation is what you need during this busy season, Lark is available 24/7 to provide it. 

Healthy eating during the holidays does not mean giving up everything you love. There are ways to fit in your favorites and stay true to tradition while making healthy choices. Lark can help you make small changes that can keep you on track. 

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