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Nov 9, 2010 06:21 AM

Healthy Thanksgiving?!

Is anyone here planning on doing a healthy Thanksgiving this year? Every year I make butter-filled deliciousness with stuffing, home made rolls, and other sides, but this year I want to make it healthy. Lower in fat, lower in calories, replacing things with healthier grains perhaps............

I'm still researching what I'll do but I'd love to see your ideas! :)

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  1. We usually have a whole turkey.. but no one in the family really eats the skin. If you wanted to go healthier, you could serve only turkey breasts.

    The one indulgence is ritz cracker stuffing, but I believe my grandma cuts out some of the margarine. If you want to do bread stuffing, you could use whole wheat bread and reduce the amount of bread and up the amount of veggies. I've made a bread based stuffing using only a spoonful or two of olive oil, instead of lots of margarine.

    I've seen several recipes this year for mashed sweet potatoes topped with piped meringue instead of marshmallows. I don't really like my sweet potatoes all sugary, so I make a sweet potato mash with ginger. We also serve baby roasted red potatoes with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

    Make the rolls smaller.. I've seen that people take one roll and eat the whole thing regardless of size.

    For dessert, I usually make a pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and apple crisp with oats in the topping. And a fruit platter. It's the one time to splurge a little bit.

    5 Replies
    1. re: cheesecake17

      I never put butter or any other fat in dressing -- always just broth and veggies! And I usually do a mix of white and whole wheat bread.

      1. re: LauraGrace

        When I toast the bread, I add a drizzle of olive oil.

        1. re: cheesecake17

          Ahhhh, I see! Yup, my mama's recipe involves stale bread, not toasted, so there's the difference right there! :)

          1. re: LauraGrace

            I don't remember the recipe exactly, but it calls for cutting bread into cubes, drizzling with olive oil and spices and toasting it. Honestly.. I like the ritz cracker version better.

        2. re: LauraGrace

          Speaking of no fat/butter for Thanksgiving, I recently made a dish from the Ivory Coast that includes smoked turkey and a pumpkin seed sauce - no cream or added fat. The recipe is unusual, but not so weird that picky people would have trouble with it.... in fact, I would have had no idea the sauce was made from seeds, if I wasn't the cook :)

      2. Why ruin a good thing? True health is about balance. You have 364 other days of the year to experiment.

        Make what you love and eat a little less of it.

        6 Replies
        1. re: MSPD

          +1. One meal out of a thousand isn't going to make a bit of different. Eat anything and NOT in moderation. What's the rationale for not doing that?

          1. re: MSPD

            Absolutely. I think if we had a better-thought-out cultural philosophy of feasting, we'd be healthier overall! :)

            1. re: MSPD

              1000000x THIS. Eat, drink and be merry and stop worrying about the damn fat and calories for one day!

              1. re: MSPD

                +2. Completely agree with MSPD. If you eat healthy as a regular practice, is one festive dinner at the end of November really going to matter? I don't think so.

                Right on MadalayVA!

                1. re: FoodChic

                  I didn't post this asking for opinions on whether to do a healthy Thanksgiving or not.

                  I am doing this because I have changed my lifestyle and eat healthy the majority of the time now. And when I do splurge on a day like this (because I certainly have) I feel like crap the next day or's just not worth it. :)

                  Thank you Mollyomormon the suggestions pertaining to what I asked for.

                  1. re: junglekitte

                    Perhaps beginning your post with a vague "Is anyone here planning on doing a healthy Thanksgiving this year?" wasn't the best idea.

                    Depending on availability in your area, I would offer substituting wild rice for mashed potatoes or another carbohydrate. There are a lot of great recipes online. Wild rice is richer in fiber and protein to brown rice, and lower in carbohydrates (especially when compared to mashed potatoes). It's a staple at our Thanksgiving (although that's not saying much among Minnesotans).

                    It looks like you are from California which is actually a good source of wild rice (although it's cultivated vs. the actual wild rice). Whole Foods and higher end grocery stores should have it. I recommend ordering the good stuff online though.

                    Good luck.

              2. Some delicious and healthful recipes here:

                and this blogger is doing a healthy thanksgiving series with some awesome sounding recipes:

                1 Reply
                1. re: mollyomormon

                  I should clarify that these recipes are not low in fat or calories, but they are packed with healthful, delicious ingredients.

                2. Junglekitte, I'm with you on this one. While I eat pretty well the entire year, I hate the feeling I get after endulging at Thanksgiving. Some of the things that have worked for me are a crockpot sweet potato concoction that is healthier, my Dad's cornbread dressing that I make gluten-free including whole-wheat bread, using veggies and broth instead of butter and a gluten-free pumpkin pie.

                  I agree with the other posters that if they want to splurge on this special day, go ahead. But for me, feeling uncomfortable all day and the next is not worth it.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: Peachie

                    I don't think you are feeling bad after Thanksgiving dinner is because of what you ate but rather how much of it you ate.

                    1. re: John E.

                      i think it's both the content *and* the quantity that gets most people...but if you overdo it on lighter food, the impact isn't as unpleasant. my guests always tell me they love that they can enjoy extra helpings at my table without making themselves sick.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Are you implying that in the past your guests made themselves sick after eating Thanksgiving Dinner at your house? I still don't buy the 'I get sick because of all the fat'. If in fact someone gets sick from eating reasonable amounts of typical Thanksgiving dinner food, they better get their gallbladder checked.

                        I dropped a considerable amout of weight three years ago and at the big holiday meals since then, I've taken it easy and have never gotten the bloated feeling. (You know, where the men all go to the couch and unbutton their trousers).

                        1. re: John E.

                          i'm not sure how you would have taken that from my post. what i'm saying is that they normally feel sick/weighed down after eating Thanskgiving dinner *elsewhere* but not at my house.

                          1. re: John E.

                            as a health-fanatic (read: competing bodybuilder) i know that it is not so much the QUANTITY of food that makes some people feel ill or bad about when they ate, but the QUALITY of food that we eat.

                            for example, i am perfectly fine with throwing down over a pound of sweet potatoes, or enough chicken to kill the average person, but one too many cookies and i start to feel bad. it is just as much (actually probably much more) about telling myself that I know i ate something that wasnt on my diet as it is about the actual calorie count of what I just consumed. I think this is more what we're talking about here.

                        2. re: John E.

                          For some people, John, it is what you eat as well as how much. That's for those of us that are cursed with sensitive stomachs. But you are right, moderation in amount is a huge factor.

                          1. re: John E.

                            It is not because of over eating. It is because of the high fat content of the stuffing, turkey skin, gravy, mash, butter-laden rolls, pecan pie, etc. Cream, butter, sugar oh my!!!

                            1. re: junglekitte

                              i actually found out i was insulin resistant last year, so it wasn't the fat, but these-so-called "healthy" carbs that were making me sick. your idea of "healthy" may not be mine.

                              what overloads most people's systems is the combo of high-fat/high-carb. i.e., gravy, mash, rolls, pecan pie, etc. it's an insulin rocket ship.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                So much this. Not the gravy, but the mashed potatoes. Not the butter, but the rolls. Not the turkey skin, but the stuffing. Put everything together, cram your face with about four times the food you'd normally eat on a given day and no wonder everyone lies around in a food coma or gets indigestion after T-day dinner.

                          2. re: Peachie

                            Just in case it matters to someone you're sharing dinner with, you should know that making the dressing with whole wheat bread does NOT make it gluten free. Anything made with any type of wheat flour has gluten in it, as do things made with barley or rye.

                            Of course, gluten is only bad for you if you have celiac disease, and I'm guessing that's not the case.

                            1. re: Euonymous

                              No kidding, Euonymous. :-) I wasn't clear enough---it's a gluten-free whole wheat bread.

                              1. re: Peachie

                                I repeat. Nothing that contains any kind of wheat is gluten free. There is no such thing as gluten-free whole wheat bread.

                                1. re: Euonymous

                                  maybe (hopefully) Peachie meant to say whole *grain* bread, not whole wheat.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Yes, I meant to say gluten-free, whole grain bread. Thanks goodhealthgourmet. Geesh.

                          3. i do a "healthy" Thanksgiving every year. the dishes all still taste indulgent, and of course i do use some fat and sugar, but my menu isn't nearly as heavy as the standard American spread. everyone's entitled to their opinion, and those who see this day as a special opportunity to splurge have every right to do so, but i'm with you on this are my guests, who always tell me how much they appreciate that they can enjoy a delicious holiday meal and not feel sick from overindulgence afterward!

                            Eating Well is a great resource for these types of recipes, and they have a huge collection for Thanksgiving:

                            and this stuffing recipe caught my eye when i was leafing through the November issue of Bon Appetit:

                            i've posted some of my favorite side dish & dessert recipes here on the HC board over the past few years - feel free to look them up and use them!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              I love these recipes and also how you present Thanksgiving. I, too, get compliments from guests on the taste and how it's nice to have a bit "lighter" of a menu.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                I love Eating Well magazine- the recipes are relatively easy to prepare and they don't use any crazy ingredients. A lot of the holiday side dish recipes are things I would make on a regular weeknight.

                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                  it's my favorite "healthy" cooking magazine - i've given subscriptions as gifts and it's always a hit.