It can be a challenge to use the words “healthy” and “desserts” in the same breath, especially when you’re serving up Thanksgiving dessert. Keep this one trick in your back pocket and you’ll be surprised at how sweet healthy desserts can really be: You can’t go wrong if you bake along with the season. All of these treats (all gluten-free) use your fall fruit favorites, like pumpkin, apples and pears — low in calories and high in fiber. Plus, cranberry is naturally bursting with antioxidants and vitamin C.
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This Thanksgiving, gather your friends and family and serve them, well, sorghum! It won’t send your guests running for the hills — we promise. The recipes we’ve created below are as tasty as they are good for you. But instead of white bread and butter, we’ve added a slew of hearty whole grains to your Thanksgiving. Sorghum (pictured above) powers up a salad amped up by sprouted lentils and spinach while millet stars in a corn-chive casserole. No need to scrap the stuffing. Just lighten up by loading up on veggies and using heart-healthy fats like olive oil. Even the typical waist-busting green bean casserole can be good for you — the secret’s in the gravy.
Thanksgiving isn’t exactly the time to obsess over calories. That said, if you’re watching what you eat, don’t feel like you have to sit on the culinary sidelines of everyone’s favorite food holiday. This lineup includes healthy options for all of the traditional highlights of the feast: turkey, green vegetable, orange vegetable, stuffing, potatoes — even dessert.
Stuff a butterflied skinless turkey breast with a whole-wheat cranberry stuffing for a Thanksgiving main that’s just under 400 calories (gravy included!).
Make a garlicky mustard-herb paste to give turkey-breast meat delicious flavor.
If you have guests with special dietary needs coming over this holiday (the vegan nephew, the aunt with the nut allergy, the gluten-free neighbors, the sibling on the paleo diet), there’s no need to fret.
Quinoa is a high-protein, gluten-free grain that’s easy to cook and reheat, making it even more holiday-friendly.
You don’t need a turkey at the center of the table to make Thanksgiving a special day! Here are delicious dishes that can take the spotlight at your feast, whether you’re a vegetarian or just hosting a few.
Use the turkey carcass, leftover dark meat and even leftover veggie sides to whip up this deliciously warming soup.
Recipe:Next Day Turkey Soup
Leftover turkey breast combines with beans, chili peppers, and jack cheese makes a mean chili.
Recipe: Leftover Turkey Chili
Make a delish panini using turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Recipe: Turkey, Dressing, and Cranberry Panini
Combine chunks of leftover turkey with celery, apple, grapes and pecans for a main-dish salad or light lunch.
Recipe: Waldorf Salad.
According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should all be eating 2 cups of orange veggies each week. Pumpkin pie can help meet these recommendations plus that brilliant orange color provides the antioxidants vitamin A and lutein.
Fatty ingredients like traditional pastry crust, butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, or shortening can sabotage the nutritional value. Mountains of sugar from canned pumpkin pie filling and spoonfuls of sugary toppings can also send calories through the roof. Topped with whipped cream or a la mode, a slice can weigh in at close to 500 calories.
Healthy Pumpkin Pie Tips:
- Use gingersnap cookies for a lighter crust made without partially hydrogenated oils or make your own canola oil pie crust.
- No need for mounds of sugar—let the sweetness of the pumpkin take over.
- Steer clear of sugary or heavily-sweetened pumpkin pie filling. The canned pumpkin puree should have one ingredient; add your own spices from there.
- Serve with one heaping spoon of freshly made whipped cream and fresh fruit like apples, oranges and pears.
- Try Food Network Kitchens slimmed version.
Although a turkey feast is approaching, it’s important to fuel up the morning of Thanksgiving. A well-balanced breakfast will give you enough energy to pleasantly chat with family and friends—no need to be agitated and hungry when you see everyone. Plus, eating breakfast can keep hunger under control and keep you level-headed and ready to make more reasonable choices when it’s time for the big meal.
Quick and simple does the trick. With all the hustle and bustle of last minute holiday prep, there’s no need to slave in the kitchen. Your goal is about a 400-500 calorie breakfast which should include whole grains, fruit, and dairy. Make sure you get in enough fiber to hold you until the holiday meal.
Oats are a whole grain and they’re brimming with fiber and energy-boosting B-vitamins. Cook with skim or almond milk and top with fresh fruit, nuts and spices.
Recipe: Food Network Kitchens’ Hot Chocolate Banana-Nut Oatmeal (pictured above)
There are so many ways to enjoy this protein-rich breakfast favorite. For a fun holiday twist try my recipe which includes whole grains, eggs and dairy using only 5 ingredients.
Recipe: Eggs In a Basket
Meet the tastiest, most nutritious Thanksgiving appetizer around. This easy dish comes together in under an hour and makes delicious use of beautiful poblano peppers. Poblano peppers are mild chili peppers from Mexico, and their spiciness helps to bring out their taste. If you aren’t a fan of spicy foods you can always use bell peppers instead. Flax seeds and veggies offer meaty texture and flavor while quinoa and chickpeas pile on the protein. I added a touch of marjoram for garnish as it adds extra flavor, plus pretty flecks of color. Serve hot out of the oven or bake ahead of time and reheat before your guests arrive. If you have any extra cooked quinoa leftover try my tasty little Quinoa Bites, which make great hors d’oeuvres and are the perfect finger food for kids to munch on.