Homemade healthiness

Every Thanksgiving, shoppers hit local grocery stores for the traditional main dish: turkey.

While traditions are worthwhile, Thanksgiving doesn’t always support a healthy diet. But it is possible to have a healthy Thanksgiving dinner that is also delicious enough to satisfy dinner guests.

The meat

If turkey doesn’t excite the taste buds, try cooking roasted rosemary chicken breast with balsamic vinaigrette. Don’t panic: It’s not as difficult as it sounds.

Get boneless and skinless chicken breasts – remember that a thicker cut of meat will take longer to cook – and pick up some balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary and a lemon.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. After cleaning and removing any fat from the chicken, lightly salt and pepper it. Then sprinkle on the rosemary and place the chicken in a roasting pan in the oven for about an hour. It should be a nice golden brown color when finished.

After the chicken is cooked, it needs to cool on a trivet. Coat each chicken breast with about 1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Let the chicken absorb the juices for about 15 minutes before serving.

On the side

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without an array of side dishes.

Instead of the typical buttery mashed potatoes, try boiling whole red potatoes instead. Simmer 2 pounds of unpeeled, red potatoes in salted water for about 40 minutes. According to the US Department of Agriculture, boiling them whole will help the potatoes retain their nutrients.

After simmering, mash the potatoes together with 1/4 cup water and 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, which is creamier and healthier. Don’t worry about removing the potato skin – it contains vitamins and natural fibers.

Green vegetables can be added to any meal, but there is a secret to making them great.

Grill organic asparagus on an indoor electric grill. Simply rinse, add salt and pepper, and then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Unlike butter, the olive oil is high in antioxidants and can help protect against heart disease.

Place the greens on the grill for about 5 to 8 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure they do not become soggy. Once tender, remove the asparagus from the grill and serve. If there is no indoor grill, steam the vegetables by cooking them in a bowl of water in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add salt, pepper and olive oil.

And don’t use the red cranberry gelatin that pops out of a can for cranberry sauce. Try the real stuff. Fresh cranberries have almost no fat, zero cholesterol and very little sodium. They’re also high in vitamin C.

For homemade sauce, use fresh cranberries, pecans and an orange. Add about 2 cups of the cranberries and about 1/4 cup of squeezed orange juice to a pan.

Let the mixture simmer on the stove for about 10 minutes before letting it cool. Then add the pecans and some orange zest for more flavor. To serve cold, let the sauce sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.


Healthy holiday eating doesn’t need to stop at dinner. Desserts can be sweet and wholesome instead of heavy.

Pick up some fat-free whipped cream and a low-fat sweet potato pie in place of the traditional pumpkin pie. Better Homes and Gardens has a great low-fat marble cheesecake recipe that can be found on its Web site.

The perfect blend of taste and season can be combined with tradition and health -and that’s something the body can be thankful for.

For more Thanksgiving cuisine ideas and healthy options, visit foodnetwork.com.