This Thanksgiving favorite may feature fruit, but thanks to its sugary filling and buttery crust, one slice of store-bought apple pie has more calories than a plate of turkey breast with gravy, corn on the cob, and a glass of red wine—and that’s not counting the calories from the vanilla ice cream on top. “An apple a does keep the doctor away,” says Brill. “But not if it’s cooked with gobs of sugar and saturated fat.” Instead, make the pie from scratch at home, says Baker. “Use the minimum amount of sugar you can, and use a form of sugar that is closer to the whole food side of the spectrum—maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, or sucanat. That way you’re getting some nutrition (mostly in the form of minerals) along with the calories,” says Baker. “The crust is also healthier if made at home using at least partly whole wheat flour and butter, lard, or coconut oil in place of hydrogenated oils/shortening.” Top with frozen yogurt, adds Brill. “Spending the time to make a homemade apple pie will make your house smell delicious, and more importantly, will reduce the fat and increase the fiber content,” says Appel. Find out the best place to go apple picking in every state.
Carrots on their own are a safe bet. “Cooked carrots are a nutritionist’s dream—packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber,” says Brill. “Why ruin the dish by coating them in sugar, bad fat, and salt?” Glazed ones are typically combined with butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. A good alternative would be carrots steamed and then roasted with grass-fed butter, says Kenner. “Drizzle a tablespoon of maple syrup over the top for a sweet addition,” she says. “Maple syrup has a low glycemic load, is rich in vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. So, it’s a good alternative to sugar, which provides no nutritional value.”
Corn helps promote your digestive health by giving you filling fiber; it can also help keep your blood sugar levels steady. But the creamed version packs too many calories, says Baker. Some recipes include sugar, heavy cream, and even bacon grease. “Corn is a plant food that is already high in natural sugar. Why not let its own delicious flavor shine?” says Baker. “Start with fresh or frozen corn (canned may have an off flavor), boil or steam briefly, then add a small amount of butter (optional), a pinch of thyme or tarragon, salt, and pepper.” Less is more when it comes to corn. Kenner suggests baking or grilling it with some avocado oil, salt, and pepper. “The more we add sauces and processed ingredients to food, the more we move away from the taste of that actual food, and it makes it much easier to overeat,” says Kenner. “I encourage people to get back to tasting food in its pure form, and merely enhancing natural flavors with herbs and spices as often as possible.” Next, find out the 15 tricks for keeping your sanity if you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year.