Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes
In just a couple of weeks it will be that Thursday many of us in the U.S. gather together with family to watch football and eat a really big dinner (or two). If you’re trying to lose fat or just generally eat a healthier diet, here are some healthy Thanksgiving dinner recipes.
How Healthy is Your Thanksgiving Dinner?
From a diet perspective, Thanksgiving actually does have a lot going for it. For starters, everyone’s favorite dinner mainstay, the turkey, is actually pretty healthy fare. It’s loaded with protein and is fairly low in fat.
Caveat: It’s low fat if you don’t deep fry it, which is growing in popularity. If you must deep fry your turkey, make sure you use one of the healthier oils, such as virgin peanut oil. Peanut oil is better able to withstand the high heat required than are other oils, such as olive oil. Although deep frying your turkey makes for a very tasty bird, it also adds a ton of calories to what is typically a healthy, low calorie T-day dinner course.
Roast turkey is a healthy enough main course. What changes it into something that your body could maybe do without is the addition of the wonderful, brown gravy that we all love to slather our Thanksgiving day food with.
Something our family has done for years is have seafood for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Sure, that’s blasphemous, but a cooler full of freshly steamed Dungeness crab tastes fantastic, and if you can resist the urge to dip it in garlic butter, it’s a healthy alternative to poultry. Baked or poached salmon is another taste treat you can have as the alternative or companion to your giant gobbler.
The downside to seafood is that it has gotten very expensive in the last year or so. Sad as it is, some people just aren’t big seafood fans, so this one may not work for you and yours.
Here are some great recipes you can make for Thanksgiving dinner to go with your roast turkey and/or seafood that will overwhelm your taste buds without overly expanding your waistline.
Chunky Tomato Salad Recipe
Here is a great salad recipe that will add to your dinner plenty of taste without so many of the carbs that are so prevalent in traditional Thanksgiving day meals. Sure, dinner rolls and stuffing are great, but they are loaded with white flour type simple sugar carbs that you should be trying you should be trying your darndest to avoid.
Chunky Tomato Salad 2 cups fresh tomatoes – cut
in ½” cubes ¼ cup scallions – sliced
1 cup mushrooms – sliced 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar1 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano ½ teaspoon splenda – or your choice
salt and pepper to taste
How to Prepare:
Combine veggies. In small bowl mix rest of ingredients.
Add to veggies. Toss gently till spices are evenly spread thru out. Chill overnight.
Double Cranberry Salad Recipe
Look, a Thanksgiving themed salad with everyone’s favorite little, red berry.
2 ½ cups Diet Iced Botanicals(Cranberry-Raspberry) – zero carbs
1 large package Cranberry Jell-O ( about 8 grams of carbs)
½ cup chopped celery1/2 cup chopped pecans 1 ½ cups cottage cheese
1/8 cup non-fat cream cheese
How to Prepare:
Bring Botanicals to boil. Stir in Jell-O until dissolved. Chill until partially set
(thickened –but not solid Pour ½ in 8x8x2 inch glass pan. Stir ½ cup celery &
½ cup nuts into pan―add additional celery & nuts to remaining Jello. Chill 8×8
pan & remaining Jell-O mixture—until Jell-O is firm.Mix together cottage cheese
& non-fat cream cheese—place on top of 8×8 layer of Jell-O. Take remaining Jell-O (if it is firm
warm slightly in microwave & pour over cottage cheese.Chill until firm. Cut into 8
Semi-Healthy Turkey Gravy Recipe
Ah, the gravy. They don’t call good things in live gravy for nothing. This stuff is just plain fantastic. The problem is that gravy is far less than healthy eating. Here is a gravy recipe that still tastes great, but leaves some of the bad stuff in traditional gravy behind.
1 medium-large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tblspoons virgin olive oil
6 cups (48 fluid ounces) water, divided
1 tablespoon fresh sage, remove from stem and finely chop
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, remove from stem and finely chop
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, remove from stem and finely chop
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) skim milk
4 cups purified water (use bottled water or filtered drinking water, chlorine makes the gravy taste terrible)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 turkey neck (from your roasting turkey)
To Prepare the Gravy
Use the turkey neck as part of the base for this gravy. Place it in a pan with the 4 cups of water, then cover it and let it simmer over low heat for about 1 hour. This is the gravy stock.
Place the turkey roasting pan onto the stove top on medium heat. Add 2 cups of water into the pan. Stir about 5 minutes or until the drippings and browned bits from bottom dissolve.
Place a strainer over a fat separator cup or bowl. Pour pan drippings through strainer. Add enough liquid stock from what you prepared earlier to make 4 cups total when the stock and filtered drippings are combined.
Put the olive oil, garlic and shallots into a saute pan and saute them for a few minutes until the shallots are tender. Set this aside for a few minutes.
You’ll definitely want to remove fat from drippings. To do this, add several ice cubes to the liquid and place stock into freezer for 10 minutes. That will cause the fat to congeal (much as it does in your cardio vascular system), so you can easily remove it. If you’re using a fat separator cup, pour off stock into another pan. If you’re using a bowl, remove hardened fat with spoon and place the stock into a pan. You should end up with about 4 cups of liquid stock. Put your saucepan with the stock onto the stove top over medium heat.
After placing the saucepan on medium heat, bring it to a slow simmer. Add the rosemary, thyme and sage (yes, like the song) to the simmering stock. Then add the sauted garlic and shallot mixture. Continue simmering until it’s is the stock reduced by 1/4, or until about 3 cups of it remain.
Pour milk into a small bowl. Add cornstarch and stir to mix evenly. Slowly pour milk mixture into the simmering stock, stirring slowly. Bring sauce to a boil and continue to stir until stock thickens and has a nice shine, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Now you’ll have a great tasting gravy that won’t stop your heart. It may slow it a bit, but not like the traditional gravy will.
Cheesy Cajun Meatball Recipe
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t a traditional Turkey day menu item, but it tastes great, and people will love having a heaping plate of meatballs in the middle of the table next to the turkey. Oh, and it’s pretty healthy, too.
1 1/2 pounds lean ground buffalo meat
1 large egg
8oz Cheddar cheese – cubed and frozen
1-1/2 tablespoons cajun spice
salt — to taste
pepper — to taste
Mix ingredients in large bowl
Form meat mixture into golf ball size meatballs
Carefully push frozen cheddar cubes into the meatballs.
Leave the opening where the cheese went in open so it won’t leak
out when they’re in the oven
Sprinkle with a little more cajun spice
Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, let ’em cool for a few minutes, and eat up!
Make a big basket of whole grain dinner rolls to go with these tasty dishes. Don’t forget the sweet potatoes either. Sweet potatoes are not only a traditional Thanksgiving favorite, and taste great, they are far healthier than the taste would lead you to believe. They’re loaded with dietary fiber, and have almost a full complement of amino acids, being just a tiny bit deficient in lysine.
They have plenty of vitamin C, and an unbelievable amount of vitamin A, too. In fact only 4oz of baked sweet potatoes give you almost 400% of your USRDA of vitamin A! When baked, their glycemic index is 54, much lower than traditional mashed potatoes, which score a 70.
Thanksgiving Desert Recipe
For desert, take some chilled light vanilla yogurt and mix in fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Add in a touch of real vanilla extract to richen up the taste. Blend it together with some light whipped topping. You can add in a touch of sugar free hazelnut or almond syrup as well. Pour the mixture into glasses or bowls and chill or freeze, depending on your mood. It makes a great tasting, yet fairly healthy desert. You can even use it as pumpkin pie topping. Pumpkin pie is also on the plus side of healthy as pies go, and you wouldn’t want to ignore such a strong, old tradition, would you?