HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


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! :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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 so...it'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 one...as 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.

                              2. Here's a link to an old Sunset Southwestern Thanksgiving. I've made most of the dishes and recommend them.


                                1. i gotta agree with you. i even think there are healthy ways to splurge. for example, you can have a large, healthy meal and just not load it down with fat and unnecessary calories, and still have it taste good! heres a couple things im thinking of doing for my family to "health up" thanksgiving:

                                  -Roasted Turkey Breasts instead of a whole bird. i will probably butterfly it and stuff it with herbs and sundried tomatoes or something similar. eliminating the dark meat (which no one in my family eats anyways) and the skin (which only my dog really eats) helps lower the fat alot
                                  -Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes (and NO, not covered in marshmallows and brown sugar!) i actually like my sweet potatoes salty and spiced up over covered in sugar anyways. i havent decided on roasting, mashing, or twice baking them yet though. probably will roast thick rounds and slightly smash them.
                                  -sauteed garlicky greens and green beans (instead of casseroles!)
                                  -stuffing is still a must in my house. will probably go with whole wheat bread and pack as much green into it as possible.
                                  -trying to think of a healthy way to swap gravy for something else delicious to smother the turkey in. no ideas yet.
                                  -for dessert will probably make a cheesecake with low fat cream cheese and sour cream. i know most of my family wont even realize i made the swap!

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: mattstolz

                                    Instead of any additions to sweet potatoes I bake some whole along with the turkey. They are healthy and better on their own than any additions can make them IMO. I buy really good ones to start with. i also make a BIG salad with many different veggies for anyone who wants to focus on that. I also make apple crisp instead of ( or in addition to ) pies, very minimally sweetened with a nut and oatmeal topping.

                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                      do you bake them in the same roasting pan with the turkey and any other veg? i like the idea of kinda including it in the flavorings of the turkey!

                                    2. re: mattstolz

                                      Yes, sweet potatoes should be served as ... sweet potatoes, not turned into some icky sugary mess...JUST.BAKE.THEM. They are magical on their own...and with the SKIN, provide great fiber. Anymore, I just eat them baked, no butter. Now, if all of your guests will turn heel and leave, then you have another problem. JUNGLEKITTE, are your guests "into" eating healthy, too?

                                      1. re: Val

                                        Love the butterflied breast idea stuffed with herbs, sundried tomatoes, etc. mmm :) I may do that!

                                        Thank you so much for the links, goodhealthgourmet! I will browse through everything you mentioned!

                                        Val: This year it is only going to be a handful of us and we are all into eating healthy. I would never force it upon others. :)

                                        1. re: Val

                                          I always hated sweet potatoes as a kid because of the sticky, gooey, brown sugar and marshmallow mess. I now enjoy sweet potatoes since I truly know what they tast like!!

                                          1. re: Barbara76137

                                            +1 to this! I thought they were gross as a kid because they were too sweet for a side dish but too potato-y for a dessert. Now that we simply slice and roast them with a little olive oil and sea salt, I love them!

                                        2. re: mattstolz

                                          I make a pan gravy that is light that may work for you. It's super easy as well. I just chop up a few shallots and cook them until soft but not browned in a small amouny of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. I then add flour (I use wondra) and wisk to let the flour cook a minute. At that point, I add nonfat organic chicken broth, salt and pepper and any other seasonings you desire. Keep wisking until the flour is incorporated and let cook until it is the desired thickness. You can add more flour as necessary.

                                          Since it doesn't use drippings, it is not so rich. Sorry for the lack of measurements but I just eyeball it and vary the amounts as necessary for the number of people I am feeding.

                                          1. re: mattstolz

                                            Re the gravy: last year I saw Paul Prudhomme's turducken show on PBS Create. To thicken the gravy, he used a puree made from roasted sweet potatoes, eggplant, onion, and garlic. I really like that concept and froze a batch of the puree in small amounts which I have used as thickener for various meat gravies.

                                          2. Definitely not for everyone, but we keep it very low key.
                                            *butternut squash soup, adding cannelli & pureeing in lieu of dairy
                                            * roasted turkey breast
                                            *sauteed greens with dried fruit
                                            *diced sweet potatoes roasted with rosemary, olive oil, salt
                                            *if making mash potatoes, use stock in lieu of milk or cream
                                            *reduce sugar in cranberry sauce
                                            *baked pears, nuts and small bits of quality chocolate for dessert

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: maxie

                                              Yum, Maxie, I'm heading to your house for Thanksgiving.

                                              1. Wanted to add that the sleeper hit last thanksgiving, at least for me, was braised fennel. It's so easy to make and my family now requests it every time I'm home for a visit because they fell in love with it as well. Mmm....

                                                1. Two tablespoons of drippings will make two cups of gravy. That doesn't seem too unhealthy, does it?

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    2 tbs of drippings is like 2 tbs of butter or olive oil which most wouldn't bat an eye at. please don't charge up on the ponies of saturated fat armageddon.

                                                    and, lol, 2 cups of gravy is a boat-load!

                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      I have to join the pro-drippings court. I've made gravy with just stock (good stock) and it was really disappointing.

                                                      1. re: jvanderh

                                                        I'd never make gravy without drippings...that's the whole ever loving point of gravy.

                                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                                          Pro-drippings here too. Growing up my mother made turkey with dumplings and sauerkraut (my dad is Czech). NEVER mashed potatoes. I don't know what all she used to baste the turkey, but we used nothing but pan drippings for the dumplings as well as the dressing.

                                                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                          Exactamundo :) Anyone who eats/drinks two cups of gravy deserves to feel ill.

                                                      2. A fabulous and healthy potato dish is to do a layered potato gratin using good quality chicken broth and caramelized onions. I do this all the time. Splurge on a combo of butter and olive oil for sauteeing the onions (it's for the whole dish), then layer onions between sliced yukon gold potatoes (unpeeled is fine), sprinkle with fresh thyme and just a touch of rosemary, S & P. A grate of fresh nutmeg is nice too. Make a few layers, pour in broth, bake covered until almost tender, then uncover to dry out a bit. Sometimes I add some freshly grated parmesan to the layers as well. Nice flavor pop for just a little fat. A light sprinkle of bleu cheese would also work - huge flavor pop for just a little fat.

                                                        1. Yes, cream and butter are delish, but I think Thanksgiving is easy to do without them. Thoughts for a healthier T-day: 1. roast turkey (don't eat the skin); no need for oil or butter--I rub garlic and lemon on the outside, use plenty of kosher salt, roast with lemons, garlic, rosemary, baste with a mixture of fresh lemon juice, white wine, garlic, pan juices
                                                          2. roasted potatoes and root veggies. Use olive oil--don't need a lot of it. Use about 1/4 cup broth in the bottom of the pan to keep the potatoes from drying out. (Weightwatchers has a great fingerling potato recipe that uses this method and it is delicious.)
                                                          3. whipped sweet potatoes--use broth instead of heavy cream. Add a great tangy counterpoint, like chipotle or lime (or both!) Won't miss the butter
                                                          4. sauteed or grilled green beans (I like them this way better. Don't like casserole. blech.)
                                                          5. butternut squash soup--I do mine with roasted garlic and fat free half and half. mmmm.

                                                          that should get you through. and the fat free half and half is great for getting texture without too many calories. I just sub olive oil for butter when necessary on the rest of the stuff. Much lighter. Good luck and happy holiday!

                                                          13 Replies
                                                          1. re: LizR

                                                            JoanN blends cottage cheese and uses in place of cream. I'm going to do that the next time something calls for cream.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              One dish that is a big hit every year is roasted brussel sprouts. The smaller the better, sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt. Roast at 400 degrees till slightly tender with crispy pieces. Ina Garten's tourkey roulade is so moist that you won't miss gravy. Any kind of stuffing can be used. Also, a frestive appetizer is steamed shrimp with cocktail sauce.

                                                              1. re: DaisyM

                                                                For every holiday I make strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. People seem to love them.

                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                the cottage cheese trick is a great one; you can also do it with low fat ricotta. my other secret weapon for replacing cream is fat free evaporated milk.

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  I never use cream - fat free evaporated milk is the way to go for mashed potatoes, pies, bread pudding... Perhaps if I were making a creme anglaise I'd rescind my rule, but after all these years of subbing in evaporated milk, cream doesn't even taste good anymore.

                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                  i also do this! i think it also adds a more interesting flavor than cream alone does! i like my sweet potatoes better that way.

                                                                3. re: LizR

                                                                  See now, IMO fat free half and half is one of those supposedly healthier alternatives that is anything but . It is chemicals chemicals chemicals. !

                                                                  1. re: magiesmom

                                                                    Yep. There was athread not too long ago that pretty much exposed it for what it is - or isn't.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      plus it's the fat that creates satiety.

                                                                    2. re: magiesmom

                                                                      Fat Free half and half "Ingredients: Nonfat milk, milk*, corn syrup solids, artificial color**, sugar, dipotassium phosphate, sodium citrate, mono and diglycerides*, carageenan, natural and artifical flavors, vitamin A palmitate.

                                                                      *Adds a trivial amount of fat

                                                                      **An ingredient not normally found in half and half."

                                                                      I'll take clogged arteries over cancer any day. Give me FAT!

                                                                      1. re: FoodChic

                                                                        Fat free half and half is disgusting. I've even seen it with hydrogenated oil. Fat free evaporated milk, which GHG mentioned, is a completely different thing.

                                                                      2. re: magiesmom

                                                                        I'll use part skim mozzarella or ricotta because I can't taste the difference, but it isn't chemicals. I use evoo for most everything, but some dishes just need a bit of butter, and I'm not going to substitute anything. Scallops just seem to need a little butter.

                                                                    3. Parsnips can be prepared in the same manner as many potato dishes, and they adapt well to a wide variety of seasonings. For mashed, as GHG just pointed out, skim evaporated milk is a very good sub for milk or cream, and the addition of roasted garlic works well with the sweetness of the parsnip. They can be used in a scalloped dish, or sliced and roasted alone, or with other vegetables (carrots, onion and fennel would be nice).

                                                                      One of our favorite roasted veg dishes is just a variety of root vegetables, onions, garlic, and fair amount of fresh tarragon and minced ginger, tossed with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a few splashes of bitters and salt and pepper.

                                                                      Another dish I have my eye on is a panade of Swiss chard, onion and gruyere. It calls for a half cup of olive oil, but I doubt I would use that much. The amount of bread cubes might well be reduced to ill effect, and even if not, it seems far healthier than stuffing is, and could work well as a replacement for that type of dish. I plan on playing with this dish sometimes this week.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                        I love parsnips and make them throughout the year. Roasted sticks of parnsips and carrots is my favorite way to prepare.

                                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                          Funny, I was debating between roasted carrots and parsnips or just mashing up the parsnips alone for a side dish tonight. The mash seems to be winning out (they'll be roasted first, and then mashed with garlic, thyme, and a little cream). Roasted parsnips and carrots are really good though, and so pretty.

                                                                          1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                            Last winter, I started roasting parsnips, carrots and beets together with olive oil and rosemary from my garden...I really got hooked on that combination and like you said, the colors are really gorgeous. Can't wait for the parsnips to come down a little in price at Farmer's market here...then I'll be back at it!

                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                              I have beets and carrots. You just knocked tonight's mashed right out of the running, Val. I can't wait to try this.

                                                                              1. re: Val

                                                                                I've done it with that combo also.. a favorite of mine and it's just so easy to prepare.

                                                                                How expensive are parnips? Just wondering.. I pay about $1-2/lb in NYC

                                                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                  I paid $1.49/lb yesterday, which is pretty standard here (Chicago north side).

                                                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                    I've only seen them at the Farmer's Markets...$4.00 for a little bunch of them (nothing is sold by the pound at the FM here!) Yikes! I distinctly remember buying them for $2.00 or even $1.50 last year. I'll check the grocery store again this week, but last week, I never saw them at all.

                                                                                    1. re: Val

                                                                                      woah that's pricey! sometimes they're in the grocery store hidden in the back or near something you'd never think of... try asking one of the produce guys/gals and they may be able to help.

                                                                          2. Thought this wild rice w/ chestnuts & cranberries dish looked pretty & tasty. Just noticed that it's called "dressing"--was just planning to serve it as one of the sides at my T'giving buffet.


                                                                            1. I have been pondering how to respond to this post, and it finally dawned on me why it was difficult. A truly traditional Thanksgiving dinner isn't unhealthy to begin with. Now, I do a traditional New England dinner and the menu is pretty similar to the meal served by my Mother, her Mother, and her Mother and yes, even her Mother.

                                                                              Smoked Turkey- low fat, low calorie, high protein
                                                                              Squash- Some years I roast, but generally I bake and then put through a food mill. A bit of nutmeg and about 2 tbls butter for 20 servings.
                                                                              Boston Baked Beans. high protein, and yes, there is some sugar. 1/4 cup molasses and 1 tbl maple syrup for about 30 servings
                                                                              Steamed Green Beans- I married a Southerner so we have added some beans. Spritzed with lemon juice
                                                                              Dressing- Personally, I don't care for this much, but others love it. Homemade bread, homemade sausage and apples with lots of sage. This isn't a healthy dish, but no one eats much.
                                                                              Cranberry Sauce- again homemade and it does have sugar, but I used orange juice to sweeten. Sorry, cranberries without some type of sweetener is just too hard.

                                                                              And now my one high fat item... creamed onions. Oh do I love these. I serve them exactly once a year and I don't hold back. Full fat milk, cute little pearl onions, butter, roux, oh yea baby! Most people eat about 1/4 cup of these. They are really rich and you simply can't eat too much without feeling overwhelmed.

                                                                              Desserts are a selection of pies [not healthy] and baked apple crisp [very healthy.]

                                                                              To me Thanksgiving is a celebration of the Fall harvest, and the meal itself isn't a "bad" one if you pick your menu carefully and eliminate all the 1950's inspired items.

                                                                              Enjoy the day any way you want. Just make enough so you get leftovers! I love Thanksgiving; probably my favorite holiday of the year.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                A truly traditional Thanksgiving dinner isn't unhealthy to begin with.
                                                                                depends where you come from and what your "tradition" is. for a lot of Americans, those green beans are baked into a casserole with cream-based soup and topped with fried onions, instead of squash it's marshmallow or sugar-topped sweet potatoes, AND butter- and cream-laden mashed potatoes, double-crust apple pie instead of a baked apple crisp....you get the idea :)

                                                                                your version is what most people would consider to be a healthy [and probably begrudging] compromise!

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  Yup-- that's what ours looks like. What gets me more than anything, I think, is too many options. I take a tablespoon of everything I like, and end up with a 4,000 calorie meal.

                                                                              2. I make a cranberry sauce made with about half the sugar, mashed potatoes with olive oil and fat-free milk, chestnut stuffing with whole wheat bread and olive oil instead of butter, pureed sweet potatoes with apples and bourbon (no butter), brussels sprouts roasted with maple-mustard vinaigrette, and vegetarian gravy that's so good, even the turkey eaters will ladle it onto their potatoes! Oh, and a light and fluffy pumpkin pie that's very low in fat. That's my menu!

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: cathyeats

                                                                                  Nothing wrong with fat; real fat, that is. Lovely butter. No shortening or margarine. Sneak some whole wheat flour into your homemade rolls. Include lots of delicious vegetables. Whole wheat and less sugar in your pies. Natural fat is good for you; processed grains and sugar should be reduced/avoided. Be creative with your vegetables. Do the ubiquitous green bean casserole from total scratch a la America's Test Kitchen. Roast some brussels sprouts with pecans and honey. Make your own cranberry relish with good ingredients, like sweetened with apples. If you don't want to make the bread for your stuffing, grab a loaf at Great Harvest. And like that.

                                                                                  1. re: cathyeats

                                                                                    Fat is a nutrient, people. Stop being brainwashed by the processed food folks.

                                                                                    1. re: cathyeats

                                                                                      That all sounds good. How do you do the pie?

                                                                                      1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                        Jvanderh, have no fear, I will post the pumpkin pie recipe later this week! But basically the difference between my pie and a standard one is that I use toasted pecans and whole wheat pastry flour in the crust, along with just a little canola oil, and then the pie filling includes almond milk and beaten egg whites. It's super fluffy.

                                                                                      2. re: cathyeats

                                                                                        Care to share your vegetarian gravy recipe? :)

                                                                                        1. re: cathyeats

                                                                                          can you please post your vegetarian gravy?? thanks!

                                                                                          1. re: liveloveat34

                                                                                            Yes, here is y vegetarian gravy recipe - sorry for the delay. The recipe is below, and here's a photo: http://www.whatwouldcathyeat.com/2010...

                                                                                            Vegan Gravy

                                                                                            6 medium shallots, unpeeled
                                                                                            4-6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
                                                                                            3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
                                                                                            4 ounces cremini (a.k.a. baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
                                                                                            1 teaspoon fresh thyme
                                                                                            3 tablespoons all purpose flour
                                                                                            ½ cup dry marsala
                                                                                            2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
                                                                                            3 cups vegetable stock
                                                                                            1/4 teaspoon ground sage
                                                                                            1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
                                                                                            ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
                                                                                            ¼ teaspoon black pepper
                                                                                            ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

                                                                                            Preheat oven to 375. Toss the shallots and garlic with a teaspoon of oil and place in a baking dish. Cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes. Remove garlic, but if shallots are not completely soft, roast for another 15 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool, then squeeze the soft insides out of the skin into a food processor. Deglaze the roasting pan with a tablespoon of water or additional marsala and add to the food processor. Puree until smooth. In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Saute mushrooms and thyme until mushrooms are very soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the marsala and mix well, then whisk in the vegetable broth. Add remaining ingredients, including the pureed shallots and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.

                                                                                            Note: if reheating later, you will need to add additional wine or vegetable broth to thin the gravy out.

                                                                                        2. We decided long ago that the traditional meal was just too much--too much work, too unbalanced nutritionally, too rich, too gut busting. So, we streamlined--only mashed sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, not both. Only rolls or stuffing, not both. Start with a soup to take the edge off hunger--usually seasonal, and often mushroom. No gravy, and only my dad protested. One wine for the whole meal, not multiple wines pairings. Wait for dessert until a couple hours later, maybe after a walk if the weather's agreeable. To be perfectly honest, in some years past, we have forgone the traditions entirely. One year we made a vegetarian feast, another year it was Italian with fresh pasta and then a seafood course, followed by fruit and candy. One year at the request of a dieter, the only carbs were veggies--roasted winter squash, brussels sprouts, cranberry relish, and a cauliflower mash made with broth and evaporated ff milk. It was really quite tasty.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: amyzan

                                                                                            Amyzan, I'm with your Dad on protesting the no-gravy thing! See the vegetarian gravy thread for some lighter gravy ideas.

                                                                                            1. re: cathyeats

                                                                                              Sorry, if Dad wants gravy he'll have to learn to make it himself. I'm not intimidated by it. I just think it's kind of gross, having grown up watching my grandmother make milk and sausage gravy each morning in cast iron. No insult to gravy eaters, but it just isn't for me.

                                                                                          2. I tend to sneak in healthfulness into the must-have traditional dishes - like other posters, I use whole wheat/grain bread in the stuffing and sub in evaporated milk for cream, but I also usually reduce the butter called for by almost half and reduce the sugar by about a third. In some recipes it's noticeable, but for most it just tastes a little less greasy and a little more like whatever it's supposed to be (pecan pie is a big one for this - mine ends up tasting like sugared pecans rather than pecan-flavored goo). I also have transitioned mostly into simply roasted veggies with good herbs and sea salt rather than casseroles, cream sauces, or cheese-topped. Green beans with rosemary and garlic and a bit of a burn on them are heavenly, as are root veggies slices like thick potato chips and roasted with just olive oil, tossed with salt while hot.

                                                                                            Other tips - anything you're using nuts for (aforementioned pecan pie, walnuts in the salad, what-have-you), toast the nuts first and you can reduce the number you use by anywhere from a 1/3 to a 1/2 since the flavor is more concentrated. Even with something like pecan pie that you don't want to reduce them by too much, the toasting really brings out the flavor. To go healthy where people will notice, use sheets of phyllo dough instead of a pie crust (spray oil in the pie plate, overlap layers of phyllo, spraying every three or four sheets, until it's about the thickness of a thin pie crust - maybe 8 or 10 layers). It still tastes delicious and much lighter than traditional crust, but there's no way to fool your guests with that one. You can also get rid of the crust altogether - make individual pies in ramekins for a nice presentation. If you like a double crust pie like cherry, you can just put the crust on top. Saves quite a bit of fat and calories if you're a filling person instead of a crust person.

                                                                                            1. Yes. I generally try to cook with whole grains, max out produce and avoid having things drowning in fat. My husband is a vegetarian, so everything aside from the roast chicken (yes chicken) and perhaps a stuffing will be vegetarian.

                                                                                              I've been ogling http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/20...
                                                                                              for some ideas. I will make a lower sugar corn bread, my cranberry sauce is never too sweet, sweet potatoes with ginger, probably a beet and carrot salad, many variations on roast veggies. mashed potatoes made w skim milk and the tiniest nob of butter. I get worried that my husband won't get enough protein, so there will definitely be some sort of legume dish. Maybe squashes stuffed with curried chickpeas?

                                                                                              I won't skimp on cream and butter in desserts, but I will probably send most of them home with other people.

                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: relizabeth

                                                                                                IMO cornbread is best with no sugar at all.

                                                                                                1. re: magiesmom

                                                                                                  I make the recipe on the back of indian head cornmeal packet and use a tablespoon of molasses sugar.

                                                                                                2. re: relizabeth

                                                                                                  Thank you for sharing that link! i just made some of the steel-cut oats tonight to chill and then pan sear for breakfast this week. I love that idea.

                                                                                                  1. re: mollyomormon

                                                                                                    pan-seared oatmeal is AWESOME, i've been making it for years.

                                                                                                    some ideas/suggestions:
                                                                                                    - top with toasted walnuts or pecans
                                                                                                    - sub maple syrup for the sugar in the compote (just cut back a bit on the water)
                                                                                                    - play with the spices - i like to add some freshly grated ginger or diced candied ginger to the compote
                                                                                                    - cook the oats in buttermilk instead of milk
                                                                                                    - amp up the protein by mixing the compote with Greek yogurt for a topping
                                                                                                    - it's also pretty awesome topped with almond or peanut butter & glazed bananas instead of compote.

                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                      Ha! I just logged in and saw this! I subbed hemp milk for the milk, maple syrup for the brown sugar, and added a half cup pumpkin and some cloves. This morning, instead of compote or syrup, I topped it with a dollop of greek yogurt sweetened with a little bit of maple syrup, some chopped pecans and a handful of pomegranate seeds. It was so delicious!!

                                                                                                    2. re: mollyomormon

                                                                                                      wow... ive literally eaten oatmeal EVERY MORNING for breakfast (and often times multiple times throughout the day) for the past two years and have NEVER thought to do this.

                                                                                                      doing it tomorrow.

                                                                                                  2. its okey to roast the turkey with a bit of oil or butter on the skin.. and honey or maple syrup etc. most of it stays on the skin or dripp off, and you dont have to eat the skin..

                                                                                                    mashed/pureed coliflower is a great alternetive to mashed potatoes.

                                                                                                    If you are doing gravy from the roasting pan u can always pour out all the fat before (maybe i dont even have to mention that..)

                                                                                                    I like to have many dishes, some healthy and some "unheathy" and then everyone can choose what they want.

                                                                                                    the most important thing when you're cooking is flavor, so try to find recipe that are naturally low in whatever it is you dont want to eat sugar for example and then use your alternetive (like fruit juice,agave, stevia, splenda etc) insted of take your recipe that calles for 3 cups of sugar and try to change that..