4 Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

By Becky Cannon

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is all about the food – and lots of it. It comes around once a year, so why not indulge and eat everything you want? It’s just one day, right?

pumpkin pie on thanksgiving
While a common thought process is that we can indulge to our heart's and stomach's content on Thanksgiving, there are still ways to enjoy the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie without breaking the calorie bank. This can be accomplished by keeping portions under control, outsmarting temptations, and making healthy recipe substitutions to replace those high-calorie options.

Mashed Cauliflower (Substitute for Mashed Potatoes)

Prep time: 25 minutes

Servings: ~ 2

Nutrition facts: 50 calories, 0.2 g fat, 68 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 5.7 g fiber, 4.5 g protein.

Ingredients:

  • Medium-sized head of cauliflower, chopped into florets (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
  • 3 roasted garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Fill a large saucepan with about an inch of water, and insert a steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil, and add the cauliflower florets. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, allowing the cauliflower to steam for 6-8 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  • Drain the steamed cauliflower, and transfer to the bowl of a large food processor. Add in the roasted garlic cloves and seasonings, and process to your desired texture.
  • Note: You can usually find roasted garlic cloves available at the olive bar in your local natural grocery store. You can also use a ½ teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
  • You can add additional liquid for blending, such as a splash of almond milk.
  • This mashed cauliflower dish makes a great base for any of your favorite add-ins. If you prefer cheesy mashed potatoes, try adding 2-3 ounces of creamy goat cheese, or a sprinkling of nutritional yeast for a vegan variation. You could also add in some extra chives and a few spoonfuls of plain goat yogurt for a “sour cream & onion” flavor. The options are endless!

Low-fat Gravy

Yields: 2 Cups

Serving size: ¼ Cup

Nutritional Facts: 19 calories, 1 g fat (0 saturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 28 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 1 g protein.

Ingredients:

  • ½ Cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ Cup finely chopped fresh mushroom
  • 2 Cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of pepper

Directions:

In a saucepan, sauté onion, mushrooms and parsley in ¼ Cup broth until vegetables are tender. Combine cornstarch, pepper and ½ Cup of broth; stir until smooth. Add to pan with the remaining broth. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally; boil for 2 minutes.

Whole Grain Stuffing

Servings: 12

Nutrition facts: calories 140, total fat 2.5 g, cholesterol 0 mg, sodium 110 mg, total carbohydrate 26 g, dietary fiber 3 g, protein 4 g.

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 ½ Cups chopped celery
  • 1 Cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 Cup wild rice (uncooked)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 4 Cups fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons sage (chopped fresh)
  • 1 Cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • ½ Cup sweet cherries (dried)
  • ½ Cup dried apricots (chopped)
  • ½ Cup chopped pecans (toasted)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)

Directions:

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add celery, onion, wild rice, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth and sage; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes. Stir in brown rice, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook for 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in cherries and remaining ingredients.

Low-calorie Candied Yams 

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Serving size: ¾ Cup

Nutrition facts: 215 calories; 2 g fat; 46 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 5 g fiber

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • ¼ Cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ Cup brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1 Cup miniature marshmallows
  • 3 Tablespoons light butter, melted (I used Brummel & Brown)
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Arrange sweet potatoes in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Combine maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt and in small bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes; toss to coat.
  • Cover and bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.
  • Uncover, stir and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown, about 40 minutes more.
  • Sprinkle marshmallows over potatoes, and put back in oven. Cook until marshmallows melt and begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

 

Lastly, here is a picture to help you see where common Thanksgiving foods should go on your plate and what an appropriate portion size is:

thanksgivingdinnerportionsizes 

Portion Size Tips:


  • Use a 9-inch plate or smaller
  • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots)
  • Fill ¼ of your plate with grains and starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, green peas, winter squash)
  • Fill ¼ of your plate with lean meats (one serving size is 3 oz. which is about the size of a deck of cards)

 

For more healthy recipe ideas and inspiration, visit the Intermountain Eat Well healthy recipes page or our Healthy Thanksgiving board on Pinterest!