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How To Make Your Thanksgiving Menu Healthier

Preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that's lower in fat and calories but still thrills the crowd isn't hard. All it takes is a few ingredient substitutions and some clever fat-busting techniques.

The big turkey

If you're hosting a small gathering, buy a turkey breast rather than the whole bird, as breast meat is lower in calories than dark meat.

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Photo by Lori

Cranberry Stuffed Turkey Breasts

Cranberry Stuffed Turkey Breasts

Photo by lutzflcat

If you do buy a whole turkey, avoid "self-basting" turkeys, as they often contain added fat. And--it goes without saying--stay away from the deep fryer this year, and roast or smoke the turkey. Stuff the turkey cavity with whole or halved onions, halved lemons or apples, and sprigs of fresh herbs such as sage, marjoram, thyme, and/or rosemary. Rather than rubbing the skin with butter or oil, spray it with an oil spray and season it with salt and pepper.

Guilt-free gravy

Gravy is one of the biggest calorie culprits on the table. Use vegetable oil rather than turkey drippings when making the gravy--it's still fat, but oil is lower in saturated fat and is cholesterol-free.

If you use turkey drippings to add flavor, use a gravy separator. Pour the gravy into a separator and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Some of the fat in the gravy will rise to the top of the glass where you can skim it off easily. Better yet, make a low-fat broth-based gravy or a vegetarian gravy instead.

Lightning Gravy

Lightning Gravy

Photo by Marianne


How To Make Vegetarian Gravy


Healthier Carbs

Instead of using butter and cream to mash potatoes, save the cooking water when you boil of the potatoes. The starchy water will give the potatoes a creamier texture than plain water would.

You can also add turkey or chicken broth, evaporated skim milk, or fat-free sour cream. For extra flavor, stir in roasted garlic and herbs. For added nutrition, add pureed cooked cauliflower, parsnips, or turnips.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower

Photo by bd.weld

It's all about the dressing

Bake the dressing in a casserole dish rather than in the turkey, where it absorbs fat from the turkey as it bakes. It's hard to slim down a stuffing recipe, so take a small serving if it's your Thanksgiving favorite. If you can avoid recipes using too much sausage or bacon; wild rice and grains are more nutritious than bread stuffings.

Cranberry, Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Cranberry, Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Photo by alexandra5


How to Make Delicious Thanksgiving Stuffing And Dressing


Slimmed-down sides

Scrap the traditional dessert-style candied sweet potato casseroles in favor of a low-fat, naturally-sweetened dish. Try a cranberry relish or cut down on the amount of sugar in your cranberry sauce by adding fruit juices or apple sauce.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Ricotta Cheese

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Ricotta Cheese

Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie

Most of the fat in a pie comes from the crust. Try a reduced-fat graham cracker crust or our crust-free pumpkin pie recipe.

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Photo by CC


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