What's Thanksgiving without stuffing? Honestly, a lot healthier. This white bread, saturated-fat-laden staple contributes in a big way to that postmeal stupor. Luckily, it's easy to up its health quotient while preserving the savory goodness.
Get our Healthy Harvest Stuffing recipe.
Add Earthy Flavors
Apples and shiitakes impart moisture to stuffing, along with subtly sweet and earthy notes. What's more, the flavonoids in apples benefit your heart, lungs, and brain, and the pectin in apples helps your heart. Shiitakes boost your immune system and can lower cholesterol.
Cut the Fat and Sodium
Stick that butter back in the fridge. Instead, use olive oil, with its heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, to saute vegetables. When it comes to liquid, low-sodium chicken broth enriches the stuffing without flooding it in salt.
Pick Fresh Herbs
Toss in spoonfuls of sage and thyme, classic stuffing herbs that rank near the top for heart-protecting antioxidant capacity. Bring a fresh, green flavor to the dish by adding parsley, a good source of antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamin C. Parsley and sage also contain decent amounts of vitamin K, needed for blood clotting.
Choose Nuts and Berries
Crunchy walnuts and chewy dried cranberries add fiber, which promotes heart and digestive health, among other benefits. Both foods are high in antioxidants as well, which help prevent damage from free radicals. The omega-3 fat (ALA) in walnuts also protects the heart, and cranberries help prevent urinary tract infections.
Go Whole Grain
Skip the packaged dried clumps of white bread and grab a loaf of whole-grain wheat instead (choose a dense, chewy kind and look for 3 grams of fiber). Its hearty flavor makes a superlative partner for the aromatic herbs and vegetables in stuffing -- and eating whole grains regularly can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Before and After
Calories: 291 down to 275
Total Fat: 12 g down to 11 g
Saturated Fat: 7 g down to 1 g
Cholesterol: 28 mg down to 2 mg
Fiber: 2 g up to 7 g
Sodium: 1,127 mg down to 302 mg
Text by Cheryl Redmond