Lighten up your Thanksgiving

Let’s face it. You can’t have Thanksgiving without a big, hearty meal. But all too often, it ends up with the dinner guests in food comas, and filled with regret over their second helpings. We’re here to tell you that you can still eat a nutritious, balanced plate at Thanksgiving…without missing out on your favourite dishes. How do we do it? Magic, of course. Just kidding, it’s actually just some common-sense tips…and a few sneaky swaps.

Tips for Hosting

So. You’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and you want to try and keep things a bit lighter than usual…but you’re afraid of a full-scale revolt if you mess with the classics. The good news? You can sneak some fibre and protein onto people’s plates without them even noticing.

First up? Pre-dinner snacks. Often a sneaky culprit for not-so-healthy eating, the mid-afternoon nosh is a perfect place to start when you’re trying to serve a healthier meal. Instead of the usual spread of chips, crackers, meat and cheese, why not serve a gorgeous platter of fruits, veggies and dip?

Next up, dinner. Believe it or not, you’ll find that adding something new to your menu actually lightens up the whole affair: soup. This will help you slow down once you start tucking into the main event, and a soup course has been shown to reduce overall calorie consumption. This deliciously autumnal roasted butternut squash soup would be a perfect fit for the occasion.

Finally, we turn our attention to the side dishes – arguably the most exciting, delicious…and filling part of Thanksgiving dinner. There are so many delicious ways to get a little more nutritional content into this part of the meal, without sacrificing on taste.

While making a “light” version of every dish might be an unpopular decision, you can probably get  away with a few tasty tweaks…like swapping out green bean casserole for a less caloric “deconstructed” version, swapping one of your mashes for this dairy-free cauliflower recipe, or minimizing fat and dairy with a roasted root vegetable rather than the usual creamy casserole.

The easiest way to get more veggies on the table? Add a big bowl of salad as one of your dishes. Don’t feel like adding another dish to your To Do list? At Mad Radish, we can make any of our salads in a large, family-style format for just such an occasion. Hint hint.

Tips for Thanksgiving Eaters

If you’re trying to avoid overeating, Thanksgiving is a delicate balancing act between getting in all your favourite tastes…and not eating yourself silly. The good news is, with a bit of planning, you won’t have to pass on any of your favourite foods. After all, Thanksgiving is about eating good food with friends and family – not counting calories.

A good rule of thumb is to try and fill half your plate with non-starchy fruits and veggies – we’re talkin’ Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots…anything fresh and crunchy will do. Then, fill the next quarter of your plate with lean, protein-rich turkey meat – and if you can bear to, try and skip the skin. That last quarter plate? Go wild. Mashed potatoes, casseroles, stuffing…help yourself to a small scoop of each. After all those fibre-rich veggies and protein-heavy turkey, you’ll be feeling satiated before you have a chance to overdo it. And when it comes to dessert…hey, it’s only once a year. A small slice never hurt anyone. Gobble gobble.

Finally? Exercise. You don’t have to spend the whole afternoon snacking, and the after-dinner hours glued to the couch. Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to go for a stroll, walk around the neighbourhood and get some fresh air. With the leaves crunching underfoot and the crisp fall breeze, you might even enjoy it a little.

Got a favourite lighter Thanksgiving recipe to share? Shoot an email to