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Thanksgiving turkey would be lost without stuffing (or dressing, if you prefer it that way). But sticks of butter and pounds of sausage are not mandatory ingredients. Here are a few ways to slim down this holiday favorite and some creative additions to try.
One cup of traditional homemade stuffing made with white bread and no meat contains 325 calories, 16 grams of fat and less than 2 grams of fiber. Toss in piles of bacon or sausage and you’ve added at least 100 to 150 calories a serving. That might not sound like much for a big holiday spread, but keep in mind that this is a side dish — you still want to leave room for turkey and dessert.
If you’re into the boxed stuffing, its not unreasonable — calorie-wise — when you actually stick to the portions listed on the label. A half cup of packaged stuffing is about 160 calories and 4 grams of fat, but most folks eat double that. That said, why even settle for the preservative-filled boxed version when you can create your own easily?
The Lighter Side
If you’re going for traditional stuffing, a few simple swaps can do the trick. Omit the meats or use about a half-ounce per person to add flavor. To maintain moisture, you don’t necessarily need an entire stick of butter; instead halve your butter and up the chicken stock a bit. To add some fiber, use a soft 100% whole wheat bread instead or a combo of white and wheat bread. No matter how you make it, stick to portions that are around a half or a third of cup per person.
Using wild rice, veggies, nuts and even dried fruit can add some pizzazz without too much fat or calories. If you want to take a less traditional route, here are some delicious combinations:
- Sweet potatoes and lentils
- Dates and bulgur (recipe below)
- Apples and cranberries
- Spinach and artichoke
On My Table: Sausage, Dates and Bulgur Stuffing
I pull out this non-traditional stuffing recipe every year and the family raves.
1 cup dry bulgur (buckwheat)
3 cups boiling fat-free chicken stock
12 pitted dates, chopped
2 small turkey sausages, chopped (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped celery
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place bulgur in a large bowl. Pour 2 cups of boiling chicken stock and let sit 15 minutes. Drain out excess liquid. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onions until soft and translucent. Add chopped garlic, chopped turkey sausage and sauté until brown. Pour skillet mixture over bulgur and mix. Add chopped dates, chopped celery, chopped parsley, chopped thyme and lemon juice. Mix to evenly distribute. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place in a baking pan and coat with nonstick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until lightly browned.
Nutrition Info (per 1/2 cup):
Total Fat: 5 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 45 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 366 milligrams
Cholesterol: 9 milligrams
Fiber: 6 grams
Think eating comfort foods is an indulgence? Think again. With simple swaps, lean protein choices, and a little creativity you can enjoy your favorites any night of the week without an ounce of guilt.