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How to Lighten Up Thanksgiving Without Losing Any Flavor

Thanksgiving is very likely our favorite holiday. It’s a day entirely devoted to food, eating, and family, and offers a great opportunity for everyone to spend quality time together cooking. But with Thanksgiving also comes the start of the holiday season, which can often result in an expanded waistline in the final months of the year. To that end, we’ve compiled 5 ways to lighten up Thanksgiving without sacrificing any of the flavors you dream of all year long.

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Mashed Potatoes

We’ve never met a mashed potato we didn’t like…ever. Rich and creamy, this classic side is a Thanksgiving staple and a snap to make. It’s also traditionally prepared with heaps of butter and cream. Luckily, a slightly healthier version of mashed potato is just as delicious, and won’t leave you feeling supremely weighed down. Substitute some mashed cauliflower into the potato for a lighter, healthier texture and/or ditch most of the cream and butter by adding in some milk instead. You won’t be able to tell the difference and your waistline will thank you!

Side Salads

When we think of Thanksgiving fare, salads don’t immediately come to mind…but they should! From crunchy romaine topped with roasted squash and pepitas to a seasonal salad of apple and fennel, the options are endless(ly delicious). Paired with the traditional holiday menu, greens will add much-needed brightness to the indulgent spread on offer.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato casserole: sweet, gooey, and very decadent. Thanks to the unmistakably tasty flavor of sweet potato, you can healthify this one a little, and it won’t lose any of its appeal. Instead of the usual marshmallow topping, skip the additional sugar and cover the casserole with crunchy oats and nuts.

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Swap in for Stuffing Whole Grain Bread or Whole Grains

No matter how you make it, or whether it actually makes its way into the bird, stuffing as a Thanksgiving essential. It’s also a recipe that’s easy to lighten-up. Instead of white bread or cornbread, use whole grain breads, or skip the gluten and swap in quinoa or wild rice.

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Cream-less corn

Thanks to a Plated test kitchen hack, you can have your creamed corn and eat it too! Ditch the heavy cream, and instead grate some fresh corn and use its naturally milky liquid to thicken the dish. Shuck the ears of corn, and using the large holes of a box grater, grate the kernels off of 1 ear into a medium bowl. Slice off whole kernels from the remaining ears into a separate bowl. Cook them together to create a naturally creamy dish without a load of heavy cream.

Leah Bhabha is a cookbook co-author, recipe tester, and food writer who has written for numerous publications including Food & Wine, Marie-Claire, The Guardian, and Food52. She is a recipe editor at Plated and also chronicles her cooking and eating experiences on her blog, OneHungryPickle.com.

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