No-regrets recipes for a tasty, healthy Thanksgiving

Traditional holiday dishes get a health-minded makeover
Whole-Grain Herb Cornbread Dressing, Vegan Smoky Collard Greens with Chipotle, Roast Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Bacon, and Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie are healthier than traditional versions of classic Thanksgiving dishes. 
(Virginia Willis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Virginia Willis

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Whole-Grain Herb Cornbread Dressing, Vegan Smoky Collard Greens with Chipotle, Roast Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Bacon, and Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie are healthier than traditional versions of classic Thanksgiving dishes. (Virginia Willis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Virginia Willis

Credit: Virginia Willis

“Healthy Thanksgiving” is not a typo. It can be done — and no, I don’t mean you’ll feel deprived with a whisper-thin slice of dry turkey breast and a few crinkled leaves of raw, naked kale. The key to a bountiful and better-for-you Thanksgiving is to use recipes that don’t feel like deprivation and still taste like home.

Turkey, low in fat and high in protein, is a good place to start. The trouble is that the real fan favorites are the side dishes, and that’s where it’s especially easy to blow a healthy eating plan. Many sides are rich with butter, cream and bacon.

It’s not as easy as just swapping out the side dishes. One tricky thing about Thanksgiving is that the menu can seem immovable. Each family member has that one dish that is a favorite, and for some, the entire holiday is absolutely, positively ruined if the sweet potatoes are topped with something other than toasted pecans, or if the squash casserole is missing.

These strong sentiments mean a double down on what has to be served — and how you can do it so as not to disturb the family peace. These tasty and delicious recipes are makeovers of traditional favorites, altered just enough to lighten things up and keep the blessings flowing.

RECIPES

Keep the peace. Lose the extra fat and calories. These health-minded recipes for traditional Thanksgiving dishes — dressing, collards, Brussels sprouts and sweet potato pie — will please everyone at the dinner table.

Credit: Virginia Willis

Credit: Virginia Willis

Whole-Grain Herb Cornbread Dressing

Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, this iconic savory baked bread mixture is delicious. It uses whole-grain buttermilk cornbread and additional stock and vegetables instead of butter to make it tender and moist.

Credit: Virginia Willis

Credit: Virginia Willis

Vegan Smoky Collard Greens with Chipotles

Collard greens don’t need to be cooked with bacon or fatback to be deeply flavorful. This vegan rendition takes advantage of the smoke and heat of chipotle peppers swimming in a spicy adobo sauce.

Credit: Virginia Willis

Credit: Virginia Willis

Roast Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Bacon

The key to healthfully adding bacon to any dish is to use enough to add flavor, but not so much that it becomes drenched in saturated fat. In this recipe, three thick slices means less than half a slice of bacon per person; that’s still plenty of big bacon flavor. Sweet apples partner well with the smoky, salty bacon; use red-skinned cooking apples such as Gala, Honeycrisp or Rome for the best color and texture.

Credit: Virginia Willis

Credit: Virginia Willis

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

Zapping the sweet potatoes in the microwave instead of roasting them is not only a time-saver, it also frees up some much-needed oven space. The resulting sweet potato flavor is not as sweet as when they are oven-roasted, but the bonus is that the rich, warm spices and lemon flavors shine bright. Using tangy yogurt in the pie crust reduces the fat and helps produce a sturdy crust. Fat-free sweetened condensed milk is the stealthy ingredient that enables a firm sweet potato pie custard without a lot of butter and sugar.

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