Green bean casserole is a staple at just about any holiday dinner. Creamy, crunchy and comforting, it's no wonder it's a Thanksgiving favorite. But just how healthy is green bean casserole? Should you eat it? Avoid it? Modify your mom's recipe? We have the facts!
The Good on Green Bean Casserole
First, there are, of course, green beans in green bean casserole. Some recipes also call for mushrooms. So hooray for eating your veggies! Second, even traditional Green Bean Casserole recipes aren't that high in calories. This Betty Crocker recipe serves eight, and has 120 calories per serving. So as long as you stick to a serving and manage the other items on your plate, you should be good.
The Bad on Green Bean Casserole
I know I said the veggies were good, but a can of green beans that have been cooked just don't have quite as much flavor and as many health benefits as if you used fresh green beans and mushrooms. For example, one cup of fresh, cooked green beans has 4 grams of fiber, while most single servings of green bean casserole has 1 gram or less.
The Ugly on Green Bean Casserole
Now for the ugly news on green bean casserole. Because most recipes use canned soup and fried onions, the majority of the recipe comes from overly processed foods that are high in sodium and fat. The traditional green bean casserole recipe has a total of 7 grams of fat, 2 of which are saturated and 1.5 of which is trans fat. Not good!
How to Make Green Bean Casserole Better
It's pretty easy to make a healthier green bean casserole! First, use fresh veggies that are not overcooked. Second, opt for organic or all-natural brands of soup and fried onions to keep some of the processed ingredients out. Third, swap out the whole milk or cream for skim milk. Or you can make Shape's healthy green bean casserole recipe!
Do you eat green bean casserole every Thanksgiving? How do you make it healthier?
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.