Substitutions, tips for how to have a healthier Thanksgiving meal

OVERLAND PARK. Kan. -- A Thanksgiving meal often includes staples like sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. But you can change those dishes to make the meal healthier.

41 Action News Today weekend anchor Richard Sharp spoke to the Whole Foods store manager at the 91st and Metcalf location. Roy Mahan suggested replacing sweet potato casserole with baked pecan sweet potato. The substation gets rid of marshmallows, sugar, flour and eggs. It adds maple syrup and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Another possibility is to replace canned or heavily sugared cranberry sauce with raw cranberry sauce. It is made from pitted dates, fresh cranberries and ½ cup of fresh orange juice. You simply combine and puree them. The combination gives you the benefits of dates and cranberries, without added sugar and salt from the canned version.

One other idea is to replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower. Preparation is similar. You cook the cauliflower until it is tender, drain it, then mash it. Then you can add herbs.

Whole Foods provided recipes for the dishes:

Sweet Potato Makeover


Wrap four Sweet Potatoes in aluminum foil and bake 1 hour at 400 degrees. When slightly cooled, remove foil.

Slice and top with chopped pecans. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle maple syrup on each.

Raw Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, about 4 cups
  • 1/2 cup orange juice


Place dates in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit 15 minutes to soften. Drain dates and place in a food processor. Add cranberries and orange juice and process until evenly chopped. Chill until ready to serve. Keeps refrigerated up to 3 days.

Mashed Cauliflower


  • •1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 to 7 cups)
  • •1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • •1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • •1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and then drain well and transfer cauliflower to a food processor.

Add oil and reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and purée until smooth. (Or, mash cauliflower with a potato masher).

Season with salt and pepper and serve.


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