Happy Thanksgiving

Tips On How To Have a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner, Recipes

Photo By j_lloa Pixabay

Give Thanks for all we are blessed with! Photo by hudsoncrafted Pixabay

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A healthy Thanksgiving dinner is one to be enjoyed with family and friends, showing gratitude for what they are blessed with. Here are some tips on how to eat healthily, and not feel guilty throughout the day. 

Eat a healthy breakfast before the BIG Thanksgiving dinner Photo by Free-Photos Pixabay

Be Sure To Eat Breakfast

Start off the day with a healthy breakfast such as whole-grain cereal or an egg-white omelet with lots of veggies, and fresh fruit such as raspberries, a banana, strawberries or an orange.  You could even make a bowl of all of these fruits.   You don’t want to start dinner feeling ravaged and end up binging, and consuming lots of calories.   

Make a healthy dish with sweet potatoes Photo by chefkeem Pixabay

Bring or Serve a Healthy Dish 

If you are not eating at home, contact the hostess and ask “I would like to bring a dish, what are you planning on serving?  If you find out most dishes are unhealthy, suggest a healthy dish you would like to bring. 

For example, regular sweet potatoes can be full of sugar and syrup, so instead, you can bake yams in foil at 400 degrees for about an hour until the juice starts to seep out.  Peel and layer them with fresh pineapple slices and a small amount of cinnamon. 

You can also make a Sweet Potato and Apple Salad that is popular with the guests at the Pritikin health resort:   Sweet Potato and Apple Salad. 

Divide Your Plate Well

A good way to divide the portions on your plate is to fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with white turkey meat, and the rest with a healthy starch, like corn on the cob, a baked potato, or sweet potatoes using the recipe above.   Eat slowly and savor every bite! 

Cheesecake can be very tempting during the Holidays! Photo by congerdesign Pixabay

Resist Temptation 

If Thanksgiving is at your home you will have more control over what is served, but at someone else’s home, it will usually be a different matter.  Remember this is only one day of the year, so if you go off course this one day, don’t let yourself feel guilty, and get back on track the next day.  You can also package up snacks that you can bring with you to eat and also help in resisting temptation.  As far as drinking alcohol, there are wines you can drink with lower sugar and calories, and just tell yourself you will only have one glass and then go to the water with lemon in it or hot herbal tea. If someone tries to offer you something not healthy, just say “try me later” or “I am full”, or “I thought I would try this”, so you won’t feel like you are offending the hostess.   

Watch Calorie, Sodium, and Sugar Intake 

According to an article by Consumer Reports in Nov. 2018, Americans take in 3,000 to 4,500 calories at their Thanksgiving get-togethers, according to estimates by the Calorie Control Council.  Be sure to check it out and see a calorie breakdown on the food you will intake on Thanksgiving.   A lot of what people eat on Thanksgiving is high in sodium and sugar, so be aware of what you eat and go for smaller portions.  

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

Take a walk after the Thanksgiving meal Photo by myphotojourneys Pixabay

Schedule Thanksgiving With Physical Activity 

Take a walk after breakfast.   Suggest that everyone go out for a walk after the Thanksgiving meal. What a great way to enjoy the holiday together.  You can also play volleyball, soccer, and badminton with the kids before dinner.  If you happen to binge, the activity will help you feel better and take away the discomfort you can feel after binging.  

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Meal Recipes

 Now for the food and recipes that are tasty and healthy to eat for Thanksgiving: 

Tukey breast –  I always buy a fresh turkey breast from Sprouts, fresh green beans, russet potatoes boiled and mashed, fresh fruit salad or green salad, celery with peanut butter, rolls.   My husband and son eat homemade cookies for dessert.

Cooking A Bone-In Turkey Breast

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cook for 15 min. and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. The method for roasting a bone-in turkey breast is the same as a boneless turkey breast, but the cooking time may increase depending on size.  Use a meat thermometer, being careful not to hit the bone. It should read 165°F!  A large bone-in turkey breast (approx. 6 lbs) will take 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hrs to cook depending on the size of the breast.  

Roasted turkey breast for a healthy Thanksgiving dinner -Photo by PublicDomainPictures Pixabay

Cooking A Boneless Turkey Breast

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  A 3-pound boneless turkey breast cooks in about 50 minutes. The turkey breast should have an internal temperature of 165°F when a meat thermometer is inserted into the largest part of the breast. Be sure to rest the breast 10 minutes before you slice into it! 

Roasted Turkey Breast

Roast turkey breast is an easy healthy way to enjoy the white meat of the turkey, you are not wasting the rest of the turkey if your family does not eat the dark meat, and it takes less time to cook than the whole turkey. 


  • Boneless turkey breast approx. 2.5-3.5lbs 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3 tablespoon fresh herbs chopped 
  • Sea salt and pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees 
  • Brush the turkey breast with olive oil. (If the turkey breast has skin, I use a pastry brush to apply the olive oil underneath to keep the meat moist).   Generously sprinkle with sea salt, garlic, and pepper, fresh herbs, thyme, and sage. 
  • Place the turkey breast on a rack and cover with tented foil and remove around the last 30 to 35 minutes of cooking, to brown the turkey breast. 
  • Roast the boneless turkey breast for 15 minutes. 
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and roast an additional 25-40 minutes until the temperature in the thickest part reaches 165°F. 
  • Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Oven cooked green beans with minced garlic photos by vudoan20170 Pixabay

Oven Cooked or BBQ’d Fresh Green Beans or Asparagus 


  • 1 lb. Fresh Green Beans  
  • 1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • Minced Garlic
  • Crushed Red Pepper   


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Wash green beans and trim off the ends. 
  • Place parchment paper on a large cookie sheet spread out and drizzle olive oil over all the beans, and then roll them around until they are all covered with the olive oil. 
  • Put on the middle rack for about 10 minutes and then take out and sprinkle with the desired amount of minced garlic and move the bean around until the garlic is evenly distributed.  
  • Finish sprinkling with a small amount of crushed red pepper.   Put back in the oven and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or desired tenderness.  Remove and put in a bowl and serve.  

 Notes  GrillYou can also put beans on enough foil to wrap around the beans, and repeat the instructions above.  Place on BBQ not directly on the fire, but to the side, and cook for about 10 min each side or to desired tenderness. (Do not overcook.) You can also follow the same recipe for asparagus and cook it in the oven or on the BBQ as mentioned above.

Serve a yummy fresh fruit salad

  Fresh Fruit Salad 


  • Fresh Strawberries (or frozen if not available) or Raspberries or Blueberries 
  • Little Cuties 
  • Grapes 
  • Bananas 
  • Apples


  • Cut up all the fruit and place and place it in a bowl and put it in the refrigerator.  DO THIS ABOUT 30 MINUTES BEFORE THE MEAL IS READY FOR FRESHNESS! 
  • Can be served like this or add plain or vanilla Greek yogurt if desired 

Substitutes For Making Healthier Cookies

  • 1 cup unsweetened Applesauce for 1 cup sugar, reduce liquid by 1/4 cup.
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour for 1 cup white flour.
  • 1 cup mashed Banana for 1 cup oil or butter, reduce cooking time by 25%.
  • 2 Egg Whites for 1 whole egg

*You can find the larger list and infographic for healthy substitutions at the YourChoiceNutrition blog.

I understand we all want to spend time with family during the holidays, so here are some tips to follow on how to have a safe Thanksgiving during COVID-19 from the CDC.

If you found this post interesting and informative, please share it with family and friends.

See you soon, Denise

Here are some recipes that I have made for the holidays in this Christmas post:

Gardiner Family Recipes We Serve During The Christmas Holiday

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Posts may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases and collect a small commission at no cost to you. For more info, read my disclosure policy.

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26 thoughts on “Tips On How To Have a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner, Recipes

    1. Thank you Tamyara for your feedback! Good nutrition means a lot to me so I like to give alternative ways to stay healthy, especially during the Holidays when many people tend to overindulge.

    1. Thank you Bobo, I am glad you liked the post! I believe good nutrition is not just about what you eat but is a lifestyle change in all aspects of staying or becoming healthy.

  1. Thank you Betty, and yes it is always good to eat healthily, but so hard for people to do during the holidays with all the goodies they are around! It takes lots of will power!

  2. Great ideas here. Usually Thanksgiving is so heavy, I love the idea of a lighter dish. I will check out the sweet potato and apple recipe as it sounded yummy.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Kim! Glad you enjoyed the tips. Let me know if you try the sweet potato and apple recipe.

  3. Great tips! I did well during our Thanksgiving here in Canada, but we only had pie for dessert. Christmas means chocolates, candy and cookies galore. I will definitely need this game plan!

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