Healthy Up the Holiday But Keep the Yum!

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner is such a great spread – roastturkey surrounded by green and orange vegetables, grains and berries. Soundslike a nutritionist’s dream of a meal, right? But then we add the “good” stuff:marshmallows, whipped cream, corn syrup, cream soup and butter. Yum.

I’m not trying to suck the “yum” out of Thanksgiving, but there areways to make the traditional goodies a bit healthier with the taste left in.We have cooked all these dishes at our family Thanksgivings for years throughall ages of kids and with (mostly) great reviews. 


My kids don’t seek out the beans, but they don’t like the Americanstandard green bean casserole either. And for full disclosure, my sister bringsmashed potatoes that are literally oozing sour cream and butter a cloud ofheaven in a bowl.

We’re not suggesting you replace your entire dinner, just sharing sometried and true recipes for healthy turkey trappings. I figure if I healthy-upone side dish, it’s justification for “one more” dessert, right?

The best part is these recipes are easy. I’m a reluctant cook at best.Props to the food bloggers who do pretty cooking/photography all the time!

Check out the nutrition information to see the calories/fat/sugar youcan bank, and not just on Thanksgiving Thursday, since those leftovers temptthrough the weekend!


Roasted Sweet Potatoes


Servings: 6


3 pounds sweet potatoes

2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

salt to taste

Heat oven to 375 F (convection setting if you have it). Peel and cubepotatoes into 1 inch or smaller.  Tosswith olive oil, sesame oil, and salt to coat. Spread on a jelly roll pan/cookiesheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes and stir. Bake another 30 minutes, stirring each 10minutes to keep edges from burning. Best if you prepare the day before and thenrewarm in the oven to serve.

Nutrition information per serving as compared to traditional recipe (inparenthesis):  224 calories (versus 287);5.7 g fat (versus 8.6); 0.8 g saturated fat (versus 5.2); 0.8 g sugar (versus20.8).


Cranberry Sauce


Servings: 6


1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup chopped apples

½ cup currants or raisins

¼ cup maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup apple or orange juice

¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Place all ingredients (except walnuts) in a large saucepan. Cover,bring to a boil, uncover and simmer for 25 minutes until excess liquidevaporates. Stir in walnuts if desired. Serve at room temperature orrefrigerate.

Nutrition information per serving as compared to traditional recipe (inparenthesis):  52 calories (versus110);  10 g sugar (versus 21); 1.8 gfiber (versus 0).


“Impossible” Pumpkin Pie


Servings: 8

¾ cup sugar

½ cup baking mix (recommend Trader Joe’s Multigrain)

2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil

one  12-ounce can fat-free evaporated milk

2 eggs

one 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

2 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons vanilla

whipped cream (optional but yum)

Heat oven to 375 F and lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan. Put allingredients (except whipped cream) in blender. Run until smooth. Pour in panand bake for 50 minutes to an hour until knife inserted in center comes outclean.  Let cool and serve with whippedcream if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Nutrition information per serving as compared to traditional recipe (inparenthesis):  203 calories (versus 319);6 g fat (versus 12); 1 g saturated fat (versus 4); 26 g sugar (versus 36); 1.8g fiber (versus 0).


Roasted Green Beans withMushrooms and Onions


Servings: 4


1 large onion, sliced

one 8-ounce package baby bella mushrooms

1 pound green beans, cleaned and halved

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

olive oil



Heat oven to 375 F (convection setting if you have it). Toss onions andmushrooms with olive oil to coat.  Addsalt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 10 minutes. Add beans and a touchmore oil/seasoning if it seems to need it. Toss and return to oven for 20-30minutes stirring every 10 minutes to prevent burning. During last 5 minutes,add almonds, toss, and finish roasting.

Nutrition information per serving as compared to traditional recipe (inparenthesis):  109 calories (versus 239);5 g fat (versus 14); .7 g saturated fat (versus 5.5); 4 g sugar (versus 6); 301mg sodium (versus 721).


Pumpkin Bread


Servings: 1 Loaf

3 1/3 cup flour

2 tsp soda

1 1/2 t salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup oil

4 eggs beaten

2 cups pumpkin

3 cups pumpkin

3 cups sugar

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix moist ingredients and sugar together. Add moist to dry. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour.  


The potatoes, pie and cranberries can all be made the day before whichtakes some pressure off your Thursday. If you try out these recipes or havesome favorites you’d like to share with us, join us at

All nutrition information calculated



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