The holiday season is quickly approaching and the temptation of unhealthy food options can put your resolve to the test. Unfortunately, the unhealthy snacks, like that bag of Doritos tempting you from the vending machine, are much more accessible and are therefore what people choose to eat. In order to maintain a healthy mindset and diet, it’s necessary to find the foods that taste good and are good for you. Here are five fall foods that can be easily substituted into your Thanksgiving meal.


When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of cranberries. These little buggers are in just about every single dish served on the holiday, whether it be the stuffing, the cranberry sauce or just plain old cranberries served as a garnish. According to Medical News Today, a website providing news on health since 2003, cranberries are low in calories and have high levels of antioxidants, making them a super-food. They also work to lower blood pressure and help with your immune system, an important aspect to keep in mind as the flu makes its rounds.


I live for potatoes and not just in your stereotypical Irish girl way. Whether they’re mashed, boiled, baked, twice baked or roasted, if you put them in front of me, I will eat them. For me, potatoes are one of the only starches that I can eat, so I try to incorporate them into every meal in any of their variant forms. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, a website that lists health benefits of many foods, potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber.

Winter Squash

Squash, whether butternut or winter, is a hallmark of Thanksgiving dinner for me and my family. Winter squash in particular has a low glycemic index, as well as high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and vitamin B2, as World’s Healthiest Foods stated. I recommend boiling and then mashing the squash when preparing it, as it is then much easier to serve.


I remember one year for Thanksgiving, back when schools let us bring food into the classroom, it was my job to bring the parsnips. I remember thinking that these strange foods were just white carrots, so I ate a raw one like you would a carrot. It was scarring and not at all what my 7-year-old self was expecting. Now, parsnips are one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes — as long as they’re cooked — and they are high in potassium and vitamin C, according to SFGate.


Although many, myself included, grouped broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the same “do-not-eat” category as children, it’s time to rethink that notion. Broccoli, whether cooked or not, has a plethora of health benefits. In addition to having high levels of vitamin A and vitamin K, broccoli helps lower cholesterol and plays a role in detoxifying the body, according to World’s Healthiest Foods.

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