Diet Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro

    Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for our families, our friends, our health, our food, our life in general. However, perhaps it's also one of those times in the year when gaining a few extra pounds can seem like an inevitability. 


    Instead of serving the old standby, calorie-loaded recipes you make year after year, why not try some of these healthy recipe ideas? 


    The following Thanksgiving ideas have less fat, calories and sodium than traditional dishes, but they are packed with flavor, so you won't be sacrificing on taste. 


    Here are some suggestions to help you make up your Thanksgiving menu...

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    Starter ideas:


    • Spiced pumpkin soup
    • Spinach and green apple salad
    • Roasted butternut squash soup


    Turkey ideas:


    • Mix 1/4 cup fresh herbs (minced), with 2 tablespoons of oil, and some seasoning, then rub the mixture over the turkey, and under the skin. Put an onion, apple, sliced lemon and orange into the cavity, and roast.
    • Combine 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon of sage, 1 tablespoon of thyme, and some seasoning. Then rub the mixture all over the turkey, and under the skin. Put some herb sprigs, shallot halves (about 6), and an apple into the cavity, and roast.
    • Place 4 cloves of garlic, lemon zest (1/4 cup), oregano (1/4 cup), 2 tablespoons of oil, some seasoning, and 2 tablespoons of water into a food processor and pulse until it becomes a paste. Then rub the mixture all over the turkey, under the skin, and put a little inside the cavity, too, before roasting.



    Gravy can be quite calorific, so to give your gravy a healthy makeover, try this:


    Once the turkey is cooked, pour the pan juices into a cup and put into the freezer until the fat rises to the top. After 10 to 15 minutes in the freezer, skim off the fat with a spoon and discard. Then use these juices to make the gravy as normal.



    Add some cranberries, nutmeg and apples to your stuffing for a seasonal twist. To save some calories and fat, rather than baking your stuffing within the bird, bake it separately on a baking tray. 


    Side dish ideas:


    • Selection of roasted fall vegetables
    • Brussels sprouts with pecan nuts and sage
    • Roasted sweet potatoes
    • Steamed green beans, tossed in a lemon and dill dressing
    • Acorn squash with apples
    • Maple and pecan carrots


    Dessert ideas:


    • Apple berry pie — with a single layer of pastry
    • Fruit crumble
    • Pumpkin mousse pie


    Serve your dessert with some fat free yoghurt, rather than traditional high calories sauces.


    Pear Crumble Recipe

    Adapted from Eating Well 


    Serves: 14

    Prep time: 25 minutes


    Topping ingredients:

    1 1/2 cups whole oats

    1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts

    1/3 cup packed brown sugar

    1/3 cup whole-wheat flour

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    4 tablespoons rice bran oil


    Filling ingredients:

    3 1/2 pounds of pears, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

    1/3 cup pure maple syrup

    1/2 cup raisins, or other dried fruit

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

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    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    2 teaspoons minced crystallized ginger




    • Preheat oven to 350°F.
    • To prepare topping: combine oats, nuts, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Drizzle with oil and stir until evenly moist.
    • To prepare filling: combine pears, maple syrup, raisins, flour, lemon juice and ginger in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the pears.
    • Bake the crumble until the pears are tender and the topping is golden, around 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
    Remember, healthy eating is all about eating well most of the time - it's okay to have a splurge now and again! Just watch your portion size, eat mindfully, and enjoy each mouthful.
    Have a great Thanksgiving!
    Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, and author of If you need help implementing a healthier lifestyle, check out her new guide, The Healthy Eating Handbook.



Published On: November 15, 2010