Photos by Leigh Beisch

Thanksgiving may be synonymous with splurging, but here's a novel idea: Why not eat a healthy and balanced meal even on turkey day? You can enjoy nutritious takes on traditional dishes by using a few clever substitutions and methods, such as adding citrus or vinegar to help boost flavors; marinating meat and vegetables; playing with herbs and spices; roasting on high temperatures to caramelize foods; trading high-fat dairy products for low-fat versions; tossing dried fruit in salads and desserts; toasting nuts and seeds; and on and on.

Savoring these lightened favorites will help you avoid that overstuffed after-meal feeling. With healthier options for your feast, you might even start a new tradition of taking a walk after dinner—instead of collapsing on the couch. Happy Thanksgiving!

Instead of:
Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions

Roasted French Green Beans with Lemon and Dill
Serves 6 / Ingredient tip: Look for prepackaged, trimmed green beans or thin, delicate haricot verts in the produce section of your market. Preparation tip: You can also cut long green beans into 1- or 2-inch chunks before roasting; just watch carefully so they don't overcook.

1 pound trimmed green beans or haricot verts
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup dried currants
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Place beans in a baking dish and toss with olive oil, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice until well coated. Roast for 20 minutes. Stir, increase heat to 450°, and roast for 10–15 minutes more.

2. Remove beans from oven and transfer to a serving dish. Toss with fresh dill, currants, and freshly ground pepper. Top with pine nuts. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 80 calories
% fat calories: 43
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 11g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 162mg

Instead of:
Sour Cream–Artichoke Dip

Fresh Spinach–Artichoke Baked Dip
Makes about 3 cups / For added decadence, sprinkle another 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese on top before baking. Serving tip: Accompany with whole-grain crackers and vegetable crudités.

1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
9 ounces baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place yogurt in a fine sieve over a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Let drain for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Fit a steamer basket in a large pot with 1–2 inches water and add spinach. Bring to a boil and steam spinach until lightly wilted. Transfer to a colander and let cool. Wring out excess water.

3. Place spinach in a food processor. Add drained yogurt, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, mayonnaise, garlic, pepper, salt, and hot sauce. Process until coarsely blended. Add artichoke hearts and pulse until a chunky mixture forms.

4. Place mixture in a 1-quart baking dish and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and lightly browned, about 35 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1/4 cup:
Calories: 81 calories
% fat calories: 43
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 8mg
Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 7g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 325mg

Instead of:
Pork Sausage Stuffing

Whole-Grain and Chestnut Stuffing
Serves 12 / This is so flavorful, your guests will never know they're eating soy sausage instead of the real deal! Preparation tip: Chopped apples make a nice addition. Ingredient tip: Cooked chestnuts are sold seasonally in jars, usually in the canned vegetable and fruit aisle.

8 cups cubed day-old whole-grain or whole-wheat bread (1/2-inch cubes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 14-ounce tube soy sausage, crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup bottled cooked chestnuts (not packed in water), quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in oven until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Set aside. Reduce heat to 375°.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add crumbled soy sausage and brown thoroughly, about 10 minutes, breaking up large pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Return pan to medium heat. Sauté onion and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Add to bowl with sausage. Stir in chestnuts, herbs, and 3 cups broth. Add bread cubes and toss; season with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Pour remaining 1 cup broth over all. Cover with foil and bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until browned, about 35 minutes more.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 127 calories
% fat calories: 13
Fat: 2g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 7g
Carbohydrate: 22g
Fiber: 4g
Sodium: 450mg

Instead of:
Candied Yams with Marshmallow Topping

Sweet Potato Bake with Maple-Cinnamon Pecans
Serves 8 / Ingredient tip: Using frozen sweet potatoes cuts down the work, but you can also use fresh sweet potatoes—peeled, cubed, and steamed—if you like.

1/2 cup pecan pieces
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 6-ounce can mandarin oranges
2 10-ounce bags frozen sweet potato cubes, thawed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

1. Lightly coat a small skillet with cooking spray. Place pecans in skillet over medium heat and drizzle with maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. When cool, break up large pieces.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Drain mandarin oranges, reserving liquid. In a large bowl, mash together mandarin orange sections and thawed sweet potatoes, moistening with 1–2 tablespoons reserved mandarin orange liquid. Stir in melted butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg. Fold in cranberry sauce.

3. Transfer mixture to a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes. Top with maple-cinnamon pecans and bake 10 minutes more. Serve hot


—Elisa Bosley

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 223 calories
% fat calories: 33
Fat: 9g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 34mg
Protein: 3g
Carbohydrate: 36g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 133mg

Instead of:
Tossed Iceberg Salad with Ranch Dressing

Roasted Squash and Pomegranate Seeds on Arugula
Serves 6 / Delight your guests with this beautiful, seasonal dish bursting with beta-carotene and vitamin C. Serving tip: For easier eating, remove the squash rind with a paring knife just before serving.

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 medium acorn squash (1 1/2–2 pounds), seeded, cut into 12 wedges
Olive oil cooking spray
Salt and pepper
3 1/2-4 ounces arugula
3/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 450°. In a small jar, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, and cardamom. Set aside. Shake just before using.

2. Lay squash wedges on a rimmed baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn wedges over and repeat. Roast for 15 minutes; turn slices and roast 15 minutes more, until browned and tender.

3. In a large bowl, mix arugula, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts. Toss with half of the dressing. Transfer to a serving dish or individual plates; top with roasted squash wedges and drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve immediately.

—Elisa Bosley

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 113 calories
% fat calories: 33
Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 19g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 9mg

Instead of:
Cream-Cheese Coffee Cake

Lemon-Blueberry Buttermilk Tea Bread
Serves 12–14 / Serving tip: Accompany with an herbal tea for a holiday breakfast treat, topped with a scoop of vanilla yogurt.

3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup natural cane sugar
4 egg whites
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup frozen (not thawed) organic blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine butter, oil, and sugar; beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg whites and beat again until smooth.

3. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to the egg mixture, beating after each addition. Add lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in frozen blueberries.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 191 calories
% fat calories: 33
Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 8mg
Protein: 4g
Carbohydrate: 28g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 205mg

Instead of:
Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream

Celery Root and Potato Puree
Serves 6 / Satiny smooth and full of flavor. Ingredient tip: Celery root, also called celeriac, adds a delicate flavor akin to celery.

2 cups peeled, cubed celery root (1 medium root)
3 cups peeled, cubed baking potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
Kosher salt
1/2 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup whipped cream cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1. Place celery root and potato cubes in a 5-quart saucepan and cover with water. Add a large pinch of kosher salt and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 15-20 minutes.

2. Drain celery root and potatoes and place in a food processor (or use a potato ricer). Mash to desired smoothness. Add buttermilk and whipped cream cheese and blend until thoroughly mixed. Fold in chives and season with kosher salt and white pepper. Reheat before serving.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 115 calories
% fat calories: 28
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 11mg
Protein: 3g
Carbohydrate: 18g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 85mg