FIT for the HOLIDAY’S: Thanksgiving Recipes

Healthy Thanksgiving, Holiday, & Year-Round Dishes!

I always look forward to the holiday season but at the same time fear the feast! But thanks to these recipes Thanksgiving & other holiday dinners don’t have to be a nightmare. You can actually eat guilt-free in moderation of course. These dishes are low/no sodium, low/no fat, low/no sugar, & low carb choices, safe for all!

Here are some basic tips to eat your way to health around the holidays & those special occasion meals:

  1. Choose Fat-Free, reduced/low-sodium chicken broth as a great flavorful way to cook many foods. Use this broth for making mashed potatoes, making gravy, as a base for boiling rice, or for the liquid when cooking stuffing instead of butter!
  2. Veggies should be roasted or steamed & you can add tons of flavors by topping them with toasted almonds or walnuts, herbs, & vinaigrette dressings!
  3. Turkey is an excellent choice over ham or even chicken! The white meat of the turkey is the leanest part & is a great source of vitamin B. Always remove the skin & keep your serving portion size around 3 or 4 oz. Again, many herbs, spices, & salt-free seasonings can be used when cooking your turkey to perfection!
  4. Desserts & Sweets can get tricky but there are many things you can do to keep those foods low fat & low carb- no need to deprive yourself of the treats. For sugar-free choices try sugar substitutes such as Splenda or Stevia. Choose egg-white over whole eggs, fat-free milk or evaporated milk over whole & gluten/wheat-free breads & crusts as a better choice for desserts.

Tips for eating on Thanksgiving Day:

  • Still eat small meals leading up to your Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t skip meals because you’ll be hungry & more likely to overeat on Thanksgiving.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day-this will keep you hydrated & keep you feeling fuller longer. A light, low sodium soup is a great choice as a lunch meal before dinner, asparagus, romaine, & zucchini are also good choices of veggies to munch on throughout the day as they will act as a diuretic!
  • If you’re not in competition mode or strict dieting you can enjoy a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage… While everyone is socializing & sipping on cocktails choose to drink water or soda water in the beginning so you can control your drinks at dinnertime or after….all in moderation.
  • Use a Teaspoon or Tablespoon to serve yourself rather than the large serving spoons that we usually use to dish out food. You will have better control & be more aware of your portion serving size.
  • Wait about two hours if you can before going up for seconds on dinner. Or have you dessert at that point. Avoid the crust of pies, choose cool whip “free”, or my recipes as an alternative to high carb & high sugar foods.


  4. GRAVY


12 oz. fresh cranberries, rinsed
1 cup Splenda or Sugar Substitute of choice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon each orange zest

Uncover and stir. Turn heat to low for another 10 minutes. The cranberries will burst open releasing pectin. Pectin is a natural gelatin contained in the berries. This will allow the mixture to thicken. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Bring water to boil, add Splenda and spices & add cranberries and bring to boil again, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the water has reduced somewhat.

It won’t be as thick as if it was made with sugar, but it’s a very small price to pay for fresh, healthy, & delicious cranberry sauce.

Grilled Zucchini with Quinoa Stuffing

1 huge zucchini
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped grape tomatoes
16 almonds, chopped and toasted
1/2 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling (Optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and most of the flesh, leaving about 1/4-inch of the zucchini husk.

Combine quinoa, beans, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, Parmesan, oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon mixture into zucchini. Sprinkle with parmesan. Grill 5 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat, or until zucchini is cooked through, but not falling apart.

Gluten-Free Stuffing With Autumn Fruit

Stuffing is a Thanksgiving favorite, and you should not have to go without just because you can’t have gluten. Packed with fruit and nuts, this simple recipe makes for a great balance of sweet and savory flavors. I recommend using heavier gluten-free bread, such as brown rice bread, because it will stand up against toasting, mixing and soaking without falling apart. You can find brown rice bread in many health food stores and major supermarkets.

Makes 8 servings

1 loaf of heavy gluten-free bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes to equal 5 to 6 cups

1 1/2 cups walnuts cut into pieces

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, diced

2 teaspoons dried sage, or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups stock (vegetable, chicken or turkey)

2 persimmons, chopped coarsely (optional)

2 pears, such as Bartlett or Asian pears, cored and chopped coarsely (optional)

Additional salt and pepper for seasoning (optional)

3 tablespoons butter (optional)

Place rack in middle of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread gluten-free bread cubes evenly on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside. Raise oven heat to 375 degrees.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add walnut pieces. Toast for 4 minutes, agitating every 15 seconds to allow for even toasting and to prevent burning. Walnuts are done when they are fragrant and have turned a few shades darker. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet over medium flame, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil until it shimmers. Add onions and sauté until they are translucent and slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add sage and thyme, sautéing for 30 seconds, then celery, sautéing for 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper and bread cubes and mix well. Drizzle in stock and remaining olive oil, mixing until bread cubes are coated. Remove from heat and allow to soak for 5 minutes, mixing once halfway through.

Gently stir in persimmons, pears and toasted walnuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour the whole thing into a lightly greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Dot the top with butter and bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Simple & Healthy Gravy

To make delicious gravy for your stuffing, whisk some cooking stock and the drippings from your turkey with a spoonful of brown rice flour, salt and pepper and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for about a minute, until the gravy begins to thicken.  Season it with some fresh herbs if you like.

Now you can have your gravy and eat your stuffing too!

Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”

1 head cauliflower

1 clove garlic (optional)
1/8 cup skim milk, plain yogurt, or good butter
Salt & pepper

This is a great, low-carb alternate to mashed potatoes, & it tastes surprisingly good.

Steam cauliflower (optionally with a clove of garlic) until tender. Cut the cauliflower into pieces and place in a blender with the milk, yogurt or butter. Season with salt and pepper and then whip until smooth. Pour cauliflower into small baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika and bake in hot oven until bubbly.

“Candied” Yam Casserole

5 medium sweet potatoes rinsed & peeled
¼ cup olive oil or 10-20 sprays of I can’t believe it’s not butter
3 T cinnamon

2 T Vanilla
7 packets of Splenda/Sugar free sweetener or 2/3 cup Brown Sugar Blend

Chop sweet potatoes in large chunks. Microwave for 3-6min. or until tender (not too mushy).  In a bowl combine cinnamon, olive oil or spray with I can’t believe it’s not butter, vanilla, & “sugar, “mixing extremely well until consistency of mashed potatoes is achieved.  Add mixture to Pam sprayed baking dish.  Bake for 40 minutes at 325º. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts completely with marshmallows & place in oven until melted & ever-so-slightly toasted.

Holiday Turkey Basics

1 tablespoon brown rice flour

  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced

    Oven Bag

  • 12 to 24 pound turkey, thawed

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare your oven bag: Shake flour in Oven Bag; place in large roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. Spray inside of bag with nonstick spray to reduce sticking, if desired. You can also add mixed Vegetables to the bag such as onion & celery for additional flavor. (Tips for stuffing are below)

Prepare Turkey: Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse turkey; pat dry. Brush turkey with olive oil. This is the time you will want to add your herbs or seasoning of choice. I have listed a few options below!

Place the turkey in oven bag & close with a nylon tie, cut a few small slits in the top of the bag & insert a meat thermometer through slit in bag into thickest part of inner thigh. Tuck ends of bag in pan.

Bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a 12 to 16 lb. turkey, 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 16 to 20 lb. turkey, and 3 to 3 1/2 hours for a 20 to 24 lb. turkey, or until meat thermometer reads 180°F.For easy slicing, let stand in oven bag 15 minutes before opening.

These turkey roasting oven bag instructions come from the: REYNOLDS KITCHENS TIPS

– For stuffed turkey: Lightly stuff turkey with your favorite stuffing recipe before brushing with oil. Add 1/2 hour to bake time.
– If turkey sticks to oven bag, gently loosen bag from turkey before opening bag.

Turkey Seasoning & Spices

After rinsing turkey; pat dry. Brush skin of turkey with oil. Gently lift skin & rub oil between skin & turkey meat as well. Choose one of the following combinations of herbs & spices to use. Combine Seasonings/herbs, sprinkle & rub beneath skin & all over turkey, & inside cavity, turning evenly to coat.

Fresh Herb Turkey:
1 tablespoon each chopped fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme. Coarse salt and ground pepper

Moroccan Style Turkey:
1 tablespoon garlic powder or 1 fresh garlic clove minced, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, & ¼ teaspoon salt

Traditional Turkey with a Tangy Twist:
Squeeze 1 orange over turkey. Season outside of turkey generously with salt, and sprinkle with pepper.

Butternut Squash Pie

2 medium butternut squash, cut in half, seeded
3 tablespoons butter or grape seed oil
3 egg whites
1/3 cup splenda or sugar substitute

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Bake squash in the oven at 350° for 40 minutes, until soft. Scoop squash out of skin, discarding skin. Place squash in food processor with butter (or oil), eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Puree until smooth and creamy. Place in a Pam sprayed, 9 inch tart pan or a casserole dish- you can make this pie crestless or use the oatmeal crust recipe below. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Serve!

Sweet Oatmeal Pie Crust

2 cups oats (ground to flour)

½ cup Splenda or sugar substitute

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg white (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 to 4 ½ tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and oil a 9-inch pie plate. Stir together all ingredients with a fork except water. Slowly add water one tablespoon at a time to get a thick semi dry paste. Transfer to pie plate and gently press into bottom and sides. Use a fork and poke a few holes in the bottom crust & place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove & ad pie filling & bake according to pie directions. If baking pie crust alone, bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *