Thanksgiving is truly an interesting time. Some families have long-standing traditions about the food served and the guests invited to the holiday table, while others like to serve non-traditional foods and have many, diverse guests. Although it didn’t become an official holiday until 1941, the spirit of Thanksgiving has its roots in sharing food with friends and family and celebrating what we are grateful for.
Over the years, however, it has become a bit of an exercise in overeating. Now, mornings are filled with 5K Turkey Trots so you can feel less guilty about eating whatever the heck you want, while afternoons are spent feeling stuffed on the couch.
What’s surprising is how many of those traditional Thanksgiving dishes have large amounts of sugar in them. Let’s take a look at the top five dishes with the highest sugar content and how they can be remade for a healthier, lower-sugar option and a more pleasant Thanksgiving Day.
1. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is that great combo of sweet and tart. Canned cranberry sauce has about 22 grams of sugar in a half-inch thick slice, which is about one-eighth of the can. Other store-bought versions can have as much as 30 grams of sugar for 4 tablespoons. That’s a lot of sugar for such a small portion of food. That sugar amount can be cut in half by making fresh cranberry sauce at home. The standard recipe, which calls for 1 cup of white table sugar, yields the same sugar content as the canned version. However, with so many low-calorie and no-calorie sugar sweetener options, the sugar content can be reduced by half. This recipe for sugar-free cranberry sauce from Wholesomeyum.com uses powdered erythritol as the sweetener and reduces the total sugar to 2 grams per quarter-cup serving.
2. Sweet Potato Casserole
On their own, sweet potatoes are very healthy and contain high amounts of fiber with vitamins A, K, E, and C, along with various minerals. Enter the sugared-up sweet potato casserole, covered in butter, sugar, marshmallows, and sometimes maple syrup. These ingredients can raise the sugar content from 10 grams for three-quarters of a cup of plain sweet potato to 30 grams for the same amount of sweet potato casserole, three times as much sugar. This recipe from Eatingwell.com is a no-added-sugar version of the sweet potato casserole and has 9 grams of sugar per half-cup serving.
3. Apple Pie
Apple pie is a fan favorite at Thanksgiving. A standard frozen pie that you pick up from the grocery store contains almost 20 grams of sugar for a one-eighth slice of pie. Making one at home can really reduce that amount. This apple pie recipe from Amyshealthybaking.com replaces refined sugar with maple sugar, reducing the sugar content to 9.5 grams per slice.
4. Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving is the time of year for pumpkin pie. Most families have a traditional recipe that is used. But this is another dessert that can really go overboard on the sugar. A store-bought pie can have 25 grams of sugar per one-eighth pie slice. Skinnytaste.com has a lower sugar option that also uses fresh pumpkin for the pie filling. One slice of this pie has 16.5 grams of sugar.
5. Corn Pudding
Not everyone has corn pudding on their Thanksgiving table, but if you do, you’re adding a very sweet dish. Most homemade corn pudding recipes have about 17.5 grams of sugar per one-cup serving. One way to forgo the sugar is to serve fresh corn or canned corn. One can of yellow corn has just 5.7 grams of sugar per 1 cup serving. This is one way to keep corn on your Thanksgiving table without all the added sugar and calories.
No one wants to change the authenticity of Thanksgiving dishes, but it is time we take a healthier approach to a day celebrating another year with friends and loved ones. Even subtle changes can make a big difference in how you feel before, during, and after the big meal.
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