Enjoy roasted or fried; there are only about 20 calories more in the fried version (based on a 4 oz portion). However, make sure it’s fried properly. Follow the directions to ensure that the bird is cooked properly and thoroughly without absorbing any extra oil. For roasting, a thermometer comes in handy- that way you know when it’s done without over-cooking it. Do not rely on the little buttons that often come with the turkey. Either way, make sure the bird rests for about 10 minutes before cutting into it- this helps retain the moisture. To make it healthier, remove the skin. Eating the skin can add up to 50 calories more.
Did you know that it’s not actually the turkey that makes you feel sleepy after eating? While the tryptophan in turkey is a precursor for serotonin, the real cause of food coma is all the food, especially all the carbs. Swapping out some of the starchy foods can really help with this.
Stuffing with Wild Rice, Whole Grains or Cauliflower
Stuffing is a Thanksgiving necessity, even though it should not actually be stuffed in the bird. However, our Thanksgiving meals often become a starch lover’s dream, which may not fare so well when it comes to keeping the pants buttoned. Replace part or all of the bread in your stuffing with whole grains like farro or wild rice, or even that ubiquitous cauliflower. Adding other vegetables such as celery and mushrooms can stretch it further on the healthy scale. Check these links for some ideas.
A great mashed potato substitute and some people might not even notice. Even better, due to low starch levels, you don’t have to worry about it getting gummy like potatoes can! Check out this link for the recipe.
Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin with Garlic
Cauliflower makes a great substitute for many starchy foods, helping to cut carbs and add fiber, while keeping a good flavor. Follow this link for an outstanding recipe.
Green Bean Amandine
As lovely as green bean casserole is, it’s another high-fat, calorie-laden dish. Depending on where you want to cut the calories, this can be a great dish to ensure at least one green vegetable makes it to the table, and the dish itself is clean and bright tasting.
· 1.5 lbs green beans (fresh or frozen)
· 2 Tbsp slivered almonds
· 2 Tbsp olive oil
· 1-2 tsp lemon juice
1. Prepare green beans by slicing French style, then steam for 5-8 minutes, or until crisp tender.
2. Lightly toast almonds in a dry pan for just a couple minutes, until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!
3. Whisk the oil and juice together, then toss with the green beans and nuts.
Roast Delicata Squash with Feta and Onions
I just discovered this little gem, and I loved it! I found it at my local grocer, and you may have better luck at a local farmer’s market. If you can’t find it, any winter squash will do, but you will have to peel and cube those squash. The nice thing about delicate is that it is super easy to prepare because you can eat the outside skin. Plus, their size makes them easier to cut than some of the larger winter squash.
· 2 delicata squash
· ½ Vidalia onion
· 3 Tbsp olive oil
· 1 Tbsp dried or fresh rosemary
· 1/2 tsp sea salt
· Black pepper to taste
· ¼ cup crumbled feta
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Wash the squash well. You can actually eat the peel, so leave on for extra fiber. Slice into rounds and scoop the seeds out from each round.
3. Slice the onion into ½” by 2” slices.
4. Place the squash rounds and the onion slices in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil and stir. Then season with salt, pepper and rosemary and stir again.
5. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes. Flip the squash and onions and roast for another 5-10 minutes.
6. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, then sprinkle with feta before serving.
Salad with Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
I really am all about getting some greens in. Having a salad with a variety of colorful veggies can add some appeal to an otherwise beige spread. More importantly, you’re adding nutrients and fiber. On top of that, you can use cranberry in a much better way than the traditional can-shaped slices. You can easily make you own and its goes well over mixed greens with shredded carrots and beets. Top the salad with a few pecans and Yum!
· 6 Tbsp jellied cranberry sauce
· ½ cup olive oil
· ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
· 1 tsp lemon juice
· 1/8 tsp salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in a large jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine. Alternately, you can blend in a small food processor or blender. I just love the jar method as its quick and can be stored in the same container it’s made in.
This is one thing I don’t like to mess with. Dessert is meant to be rich and thoroughly enjoyed. The best thing I can tell you is to limit chemicals (for instance, make your own whipped cream- which is dangerously easy- rather than using prepared) and please use a little portion control, especially if you are thinking of enjoying more than one.
There are many great recipes out there to help you cut the calories and still enjoy your traditional foods. Share your favorites below!