Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Planning Thanksgiving Menu

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Many of you will be sitting down and planning your Thanksgiving menu and shopping for those yummy treats. Here are some ideas to make things a bit healthier!

Turkey: There are so many options out there. If you aren't into cooking the entire bird, simply get one of the turkey breasts and stick it in the crock pot. I made a breast this week for a TV segment I was doing and it turned out really well. I added sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary, low sodium broth, garlic, and white wine. It gave it a bit of a different flavor than the usual plain turkey with gravy. Check out HoneySuckle White turkey's website for more ideas and recipes. HoneySuckle White is also partnering to feed 1.8 Million meals with Feeding America.

Cranberry: I always make cranberry jello using a recipe my Aunt Tammy gave me. It is very simple. Take one package of sugar free cranberry or cherry jello, a can of whole cranberries, an apple, and a banana. Make the jello but only use one part of the water (hot) then add the can of cranberries. Stir well and add chunks of apple and slices of banana. Refrigerate until firm. I love this recipe because you save calories using sugar free jello and you boost nutritional value buy adding the fresh fruit instead of just eating plain cranberry sauce from the can. You can add whipped cream or cool whip as desired.

Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes: Mmmm....no Thanksgiving is complete without sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. Use reduced fat milk or fat free half and half instead of heavy cream. I have to have the marshmallows on top of those sweet potatoes!

Green bean casserole: Use the 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup and fat free milk. The onion topping is also not an option for me: have to have it!

Baked goods: Whenever possible, use I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (ICBNB) baking sticks instead of butter. You will save 70% of the saturated fat and get rid of all cholesterol if you replace those for your butter. You can use the tub of ICBNB at the table for those nice warm hard rolls. I made this fudgy brownie torte recently and it was VERY rich and worth every calorie!

Beverages: You are going to consume thousands of calories worth of food, why also load up on sugary drinks? Make iced tea for a calorie free beverage instead! You can also make tea blends like this recipe for a Lipton's Autumn Brew that uses tea and apple cider. Leave out the sugar or use 12 packets of Truvia instead of the 1/2 cup of sugar to reduce the calories even more.

Pumpkin: Check out this recipe for crustless pumpkin pie! You will save a lot of calories by eliminating the pie crust.

Pecan Pie: Oh, baby...a slice of pecan pie is 600-700 calories for most recipes. It is one of the highest calorie desserts you can get. But it is oh, so good. Pecans are healthy: they are the highest in antioxidants of all the nuts! Check out this recipe for Light Georgia Pecan Pie with Honey Pecan Topping from the Georgia Pecan people. November is Georgia Pecan month because that is when pecans are in the height of the harvest. No wonder pecan pie goes so well at Thanksgiving! This recipe is just under 400 calories for a slice. You can leave off the topping and come in under 300 calories, too.

Excuse me while I go and wipe up the drool that has accumulated on my computer after thinking about this delicious meal!

Check out this clip of me on The Daily Buzz talking about healthier Thanksgiving!

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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