The holiday season is upon us… and for as much as we love gathering with family and friends to celebrate special occasions, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed when it comes to eating during the holidays. If you’re a healthy eater, thinking about a Thanksgiving feast full of casseroles and pies may make you feel a bit anxious. After all, Thanksgiving is notorious for stuffing (pun intended) yourself with large amounts of food. But this doesn't have to mean you fall off the health wagon completely. One way to make this year’s feast more nutritionally balanced is to include healthy Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres on the table. Here are five dietitian-approved recipes for a healthier twist on Thanksgiving appetizers.
5 Easy and Healthy Thanksgiving Appetizers
Black Rice Stuffed Mushrooms
Not all low-calorie foods are nutritious, but mushrooms are an exception. These low-calorie fungi are an excellent source of B vitamins such as folate, heart-healthy soluble fiber, and antioxidants, and some mushrooms are also a good source of vitamin D, which is important for immune health. Mushrooms also contain important minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and copper. This recipe also includes black rice which is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and iron, as well as walnuts, one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutty, hearty bites make for a perfect healthy appetizer to impress your guests.
1/2 cup black rice (or wild rice)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 10-ounce package of baby portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (or vegan parmesan)
1/4 cup raw walnuts, crushed
Cooking oil spray
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F
Cook the rice: Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a saucepan, then add the rice. Reduce to medium heat and cover. Cook until the vegetable stock is absorbed (about 30 minutes)
Prepare the mushrooms: Using a damp paper towel, brush the dirt from the mushrooms. Set them on a baking sheet and spray them with cooking oil. Bake the mushrooms for about 10 minutes to soften.
Once the rice is cooked, add parmesan cheese, walnuts, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste as needed.
Stuff pre-cooked mushrooms with rice filling and top it with more parmesan cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes or until tender.
Optional: Garnish with fresh parsley and crushed nuts.
White Bean Dip
A protein and fiber powerhouse, this white bean dip is very satisfying and gut-friendly. White beans also pack micronutrients such as vitamin C, iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, and B vitamins. This flavorful recipe is not only easy, but also inexpensive to make, and versatile. You can serve this healthy dip with whole grain crackers, warm whole wheat bread, raw vegetables, or as a spread on toast, sandwiches, and wraps.
1 15-ounce can of cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons water
Juice of ½ lemon
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper to taste
Optional: 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
In a food processor or high-speed blender, add the cannellini beans, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pulse until combined. With the food processor running, slowly add the water and process until smooth. Blend in the fresh rosemary leaves if desired. Adjust seasonings to taste as needed.
Serve with whole grain crackers, fresh warm bread, or raw vegetables such as cucumber, snap peas, carrots, celery, or bell peppers
Sundried Tomato and Olive Tapenade
This simple and easy recipe packs a ton of flavor! A tapenade is a thick, olive-based spread that can be enjoyed as an appetizer over fresh bread or crackers, or as a spread for wraps and sandwiches. You can also use this tapenade as a hummus topping or serve it with roasted vegetables! This healthy recipe packs anti-inflammatory garlic, vitamin C-rich sundried tomatoes, and lots of healthy fats from the olives.
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (preferably not packed in oil)
2 cups olives, drained and pitted
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh basil
Add all the ingredients to a food processor
Pulse until combined, scraping down the sides as needed
Adjust seasonings to taste as needed, adding salt and pepper to taste
Roasted Beet Hummus
Looking for a fun twist on hummus? Look no further! This bright pink beet hummus makes any charcuterie board more aesthetically pleasing, plus it’s extremely creamy and nutritious! Beets are a natural source of nitrates, which improves blood flow and supports exercise performance and muscle recovery, making them a great addition to a boxer’s diet. Beets are a low-calorie vegetable but a good source of folate, potassium, and fiber.
1 small beet
1 15-ounce can of cooked chickpeas, drained
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Roast the beet:
Preheat oven to 375°F
Remove the stem and the roots from the beet
Wash under water until clean
Drizzle the beet with olive or avocado oil, then wrap it in foil
Roast it in the oven for about one hour, until tender or until you can easily insert a fork without resistance
Let it cool to room temperature
Peel the skin off
Chop the beet into chunks and blend it in a food processor or high-speed blender
Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste as needed.
Optional: Garnish with olive oil drizzle, pine nuts, and fresh chopped herbs
Serve it with raw vegetables, whole grain crackers, or fresh whole wheat bread
Sweet Potato Bites
A mix of creamy and crunchy, these sweet potato bites are the perfect thanksgiving snack to impress your guests. Plus, sweet potatoes are a nutrition powerhouse: One small sweet potato provides more than 100% of your daily requirements of vitamin A, along with 15% of your daily needs for dietary fiber, and contains virtually no fat. This healthy starchy vegetable is paired with healthy fats from avocado and sesame seeds, making it a filling and highly nutritious appetizer.
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 large avocado, diced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Olive or avocado oil, for drizzling
¼ cup red onion, diced
Fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
Slice sweet potatoes into thin rounds. Place the sweet potato rounds on the baking sheet in a single layer, and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper
Roast for 20 minutes, turn the slices, and roast until tender (about 10 minutes)
Top the roasted sweet potato rounds with diced avocado and diced red onions
Before serving: Squeeze lemon juice and top it with sesame seeds and fresh cilantro
A Healthier Feast
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with your loved ones and share the things you are thankful for. However, the holidays can also be a stressful time for those on a health journey who are trying to eat a nutritious diet and follow an exercise routine. With so many delicious foods on the table, it can be challenging to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, which often leads to overeating and an uncomfortable feeling afterward, aka “food coma.” By serving nutrient-dense foods as appetizers, you and your guests will have healthier food choices, feel more satiated, and experience a more nutritionally balanced Thanksgiving feast.
Eat & Train Like a Fighter
Take your workouts to the next level and train like a fighter with the at-home connected fitness solution used by world champion boxers Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather. FightCamp has everything you need to work out on your schedule, with premium boxing equipment and hundreds of on-demand strength, conditioning, kickboxing, boxing, core, and recovery classes led by real fighters.
As Mike Tyson said - “FightCamp is the next level of training!”