Make The Switch: 10 Ways To Have A Healthier Traditional Thanksgiving

we’re refreshing our healthier holiday ingredient alternatives list. You don’t have to throw in the towel on your health routine just because it’s the holidays or give up your traditional Thanksgiving recipes – and it doesn’t mean you have to make everything from scratch either.

The Issue: So many ingredients used in our Thanksgiving holiday spreads these days are now processed. Not so traditional. Typical holiday meals can now include trans-fatty acids, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and loads of processed sugar. A truly traditional meal doesn’t have to rely on these ingredients and you  don’t have to make your entire meal from scratch just to avoid these additives! Easy healthy swaps can be made for almost every beloved traditional dish and ingredient. We’ve come up with a list of ten of our favorite swaps for classic holiday dinners.

the bird

Opt for a turkey that was raised without hormones, antibiotics, or arsenic-based drugs. Many groceries now carry free range, heritage birds, and often are held to a higher standard of how they are raised and what they are fed. Make basting the bird easier with this OXO Angled Bulb Baster from Williams-Sonoma.


Gluten isn’t the only culprit here. Boxed stuffing can be heavily refined and processed, full of surprising ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Choose one that includes neither of these.

TCM Pick: Arrowhead Mills Savory Herb Stuffing

quick bake biscuits

Not only are quick bake biscuits filled with processed flours, but contain excess sugars, hydrogenated oils and preservatives as well. You can still choose ones that are ready to go, and these just happen to be gluten free as well.

TCM Pick: New Grains Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

vegetable oil

You probably do your best to avoid this one already, but it can still sneak up on us in the most surprising of places and is still called for in many recipes. An easy swap is olive oil, safflower or sunflower oil. Look for unrefined, cold-pressed and organic oils.

TCM Pick: Eden Organic Safflower Oil

white flour

Whether it’s for baking breads or desserts, there are endless swaps for the traditional highly processed white flour. Opt for stone ground whole wheat or a gluten free blend. Most importantly, make sure it’s organic to steer clear of GMO’s.

TCM Pick: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour


We were told to avoid fat and that gave us the oh so processed and hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Now fat is back, and its okay to eat butter every now and again as long as it’s organic and void of rBGH hormones. We can relax a bit with this one and choose the good stuff. If you need a vegan variety, choose coconut oil.

TCM Pick: Eat Good Fat Organic Ghee

pre-made crust

We’ll say it again, there’s no reason to sacrifice health for flavor or the other way around, and also no reason to have to reach for a crust that is full of artificial and processed ingredients. These shells are a life-saver.

TCM Pick: Hearty Gluten Free Pie Shells 

condensed cream

It’s generally a bad sign when milk is able to sit on a shelf for years without any change. Although the healthier version is also a shelf-stable one, at least there are no hormones or bpa lining included. Coconut cream is an easy and delicious swap.

TCM Pick: Let’s Do Organic Creamed Coconut 

candied yams

This staple glistens with caramelized refined sugars. The easiest swap? Peel, chop and bake some organic yams or sweet potatoes and season with a little natural butter and just the amount of sweetener you desire. Coconut sugar is our pick for sweetening our sweet potatoes. It tastes like caramel, naturally, and is an unrefined and much healthier swap for brown sugar.

canned cranberry sauce

Or anything canned for that matter, is likely to contain preservatives, a lot of sugar and a BPA lining. Thankfully, many companies have caught on and are revamping their packaging. A classically processed side dish is easily swapped for a healthier version with natural sugars, organic cranberries, water and nothing else – packaged in a box, not a can.

TCM Pick: Pacific Natural Foods Organic Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce 

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