Three Ways to Health-ify Your Thanksgiving Meal

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Three Ways to Health-ify Your Thanksgiving Meal

In many ways, this is the most wonderful time of the year. For one, Starbucks has transitioned from offering its classic cups to the festive red ones, with seasonal drinks to match. And, it is becoming almost socially acceptable to wear Uggs in lieu of riding or combat boots (but not quite). Most importantly, however, we have a five-day-long hiatus from school to indulge with our family, friends, and loved ones.

But once Thanksgiving rolls around, it’s almost unnatural not to shudder at the thought of the fatty, sugary, and calorie-laden meal that awaits. In fact, the average Thanksgiving plate packs over 2,000 calories — and that doesn’t even include seconds or dessert.

In anticipation of the holiday, we’ve gathered three fool-proof Thanksgiving recipes that slash calories, but don’t sacrifice flavor or texture. Trust us, you’ll have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season if you give these recipes a try.

1. Whole Wheat Sage and Mushroom Stuffing


  • Canola oil, cooking spray
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages of white button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 loaf day-old whole wheat break, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Remove the mushroom caps from the stems. Reserve the caps for the round 2 recipe Stuffed Mushrooms. Roughly chop the stems and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the canola oil. Stir in the onions and celery and cook until softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the mushroom stems and herbs, and continue to cook until the mushrooms are browned and the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together the eggs and chicken broth in a large bowl. Add the cubed bread to the bowl and toss to coat all of the bread with the egg/chicken broth mixture. Stir in the cooked onions and mushroom mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the baking dish and bake, covered loosely with foil, for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking time to brown the top. Remove from the oven and serve.

2. Lemon-Maple Squash


  • 4 lbs butternut or calabaza squash
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper


Slice the butternut or calabaza squash into thick wedges and remove the seeds. Place cut-side up in a baking dish. Combine the maple syrup, water, the zest and juice of the lemon, red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper; pour over the squash. Bake 20 minutes at 350° F, then flip the squash and bake until caramelized and tender, 45 more minutes, basting halfway through.

3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Almonds and Parmesan


  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil plus about 1 teaspoon for brushing roasting pan
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoon coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds (could use other types of nuts as well)


Preheat oven to 400° F. Trim the stem end from brussels sprouts, then cut them into halves. Put sprouts into a bowl. Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then toss the Brussel sprouts with the oil-vinegar mixture and season with a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper and some salt.

Brush a roasting pan with 1 tsp. of olive oil and arrange the brussels sprouts on the pan in a single layer. Roast until the brussels sprouts are nicely browned on the edges and tender, about 25 minutes. Turn them about every 10 minutes.

During the last few minutes of roasting time, put almonds in a dry pan and toast 1-2 minutes, shaking the pan so they don’t burn.

Wipe out the bowl you used to toss the raw brussels sprouts in, and when they are browned as much as you’d like, toss the hot sprouts with the coarsely grated parmesan. Arrange on serving dish, sprinkle almonds over and serve.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Lara Berns

 Images courtesy of CU Independent, Closet Cooking, Food Blogga, Kalyn’s Kitchen.

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