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Healthy Versions of Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

By HERWriter
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Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

From turkey with all the trimmings to pie with all the fillings, America’s eating fest is Thanksgiving.

“The average holiday dinner alone can carry a load of 3,000 calories. And many nibble through another 1,500 calories, downing appetizers and drinks before and after the big meal,” according to CalorieControl.org.

A little brie on some mashed parsnips goes a long way instead of buttery potatoes, and skip the crust for a healthier Thanksgiving pumpkin dessert.

Another way to save calories is to swap out your buttery, carb-laden stuffing for a butternut squash stuffing.

“Butternut squash compose of many vital poly-phenolic anti-oxidants and vitamins. As in other Cucurbitaceae members, butternut too has very low calories; 100 g provides just 45 calories. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, is rich source of dietary fiber and phyto-nutrients,” according to Nutrition and You.

Here are some of my healthier versions of the above-mentioned Thanksgiving recipes:


• 12 pieces of sprouted bread, cubed (about 8 cups)
• 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½” cubes (about 6 cups)
• 1/2 lb. turkey bacon, diced
• ½ cup of finely chopped onion
• 1 clove of finely chopped garlic
• 4 medium granny smith apples, diced
• 6 tbsp. organic coconut oil
• ½ tsp. of sea salt
• 1 tbsp. cinnamon
• 2 tsp. nutmeg
• 2 tsp. raw brown sugar
• 2 ½ cups of low-sodium chicken broth
• 3 large eggs
• 4 oz. smoked gouda

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a cookie sheet, bake the sprouted bread cubes at 450 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, until toasted and crisp.

Toss the butternut squash with 1 tbsp. coconut oil, ½ tsp salt cinnamon and nutmeg. Roast at 450 degrees for approximately 15 minutes until soft and browned.

Cook bacon over medium heat, then add onion and garlic. Cook until bacon is crispy and onions and garlic are soft.

Add the apple and brown sugar to the onions and bacon, cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples and onions are caramelized, about 10-12 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the bread, squash, onions and apples together. Whisk together the eggs, broth, nutmeg and the rest of the cinnamon. Toss with the bread mixture.

Bake in a large baking dish for 35 minutes at 375 degrees F, until the top is golden. Grate the gouda over the stuffing and bake for an additional seven minutes, until the cheese is melted.


• 1 lb. of parsnips
• ½ cup of almond/coconut milk
• 2 tsp. of chopped rosemary
• 3 oz. brie cheese, rind removed, cubed
• Sea salt to taste

Steam or boil parsnips until soft, then puree in food processor with milk.
Add the cubed brie which will melt on the hot parsnips.
Season with a pinch of salt and serve warm.


• 4 small pkgs. of coconut milk vanilla pudding
• 1 cup of coconut milk
• 2 tbsp. of canned pumpkin
• 2 scoops of vanilla whey protein powder
• 1/2 cup of soft whipped marscarpone cheese
• 1/2 cup of toasted coconut

Mix pudding, milk, pumpkin and whey, set aside.
Fill four dessert cups with alternating layers of pudding mixture, toasted coconut and marscarpone cheese.
Serves 4.


“Stuff The Bird Not Yourself – CalorieControl.org.” Calorie Control Organization. Web 23 November 2014.

“Butternut squash nutrition facts – Nutrition-and-you.com.” Nutrition and You.
Web 23 November 2014.

Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist and Publicist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training.

Joanne's fitness plans, recipes and lifestyle advice are available globally on her website http://www.happiwoman.com/ She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband and son, where she runs her fitness and publicity business, JSK PR, http://www.jskpr.com/

Reviewed November 24, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

Mmm... Thank you. Sounds tasty

December 9, 2014 - 7:06am

These are some great "tweaks" that we can make to reduce the calories in our diets not just during the holidays but all the time. I like how the recipes also include coconut oil and coconut milk which is also proven to have significant health benefits.

November 26, 2014 - 2:43pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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