Let’s Talk Turkey…and Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Pumpkin Pie and Other Thanksgiving Faves

It’s the time of year that I love—and hate. I love: A) Time off work; B) Time to sleep as much as I want, exercise as much as I want, see my family as much as I want; and C) Food. But I hate: A) Eating too much; B) Drinking too much; and C) Feeling like a bloated cow (or bird).

This year, I vow to do things a bit differently. It will be easier as Craig and I are staying home so we’ll both be sharing kitchen duties so we can control the menu and I know exactly what’s in our dishes. Here’s what we’ll be whipping up.

Turkey: Dark meat or white, turkey is one of the lowest-calorie protein sources you can eat. The high-quality protein in turkey helps to trigger satiety so you’re less likely to overeat that pecan pie. A three-ounce serving of skinless turkey breast has about 120 calories and one gram of fat. I’ll pick up a small Honeysuckle White because they are giving back and helping to end hunger with their partnership with Feeding America. We’re going to try a two-day dry brine this year (I know…it adds sodium…but it makes the turkey ridiculously juicy) before attempting to grill the bird. I’ve read how to do this in the LA Times so I’m taking their word on it.

Cranberry Sauce: This is my ultimate favorite dish of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Research reveals that cranberries are low in calories and rich in fiber, potassium and contain vitamin C, but dumping a truckload of sugar to them to make them palatable isn’t the healthiest option. Cranberries contain unique compounds that have proven antibacterial properties that provide total body health benefits. My sauce is made with one bag of fresh berries that I simmer with water and a Splenda/sugar blend until they pop. I then blend with half a packet of lemon Jell-0, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, applesauce, lemon and orange zest.

Mashed Potatoes: Potatoes are a nutrient powerhouse, loaded with vitamin C, potassium and fiber. I use mostly Yukon Gold potatoes but add a few sweet potatoes to the mix, just to boost the carotenoids. I’ll use a whipped butter or a soft spread (not too much) and lowfat milk when mashing so these are really healthy mashed potatoes that don’t pack in as much sat fat as those made with cream and regular butter.

Rice Stuffing: I prefer a brown- or wild rice-based stuffing to bread stuffing. I always make my stuffing in a casserole dish and bake outside of the bird. My favorite recipes always include dried fruit like apricots, dried cranberries or raisins and nuts. Brown and wild rice are 100% whole grain and I prefer the nutty texture of the rice stuffing to bread-based. If you’re making a bread stuffing recipe, try using half the amount of fat called for in the recipe for sauteing the onions or other veggies and use twice as much vegetables. You can never go wrong adding some toasted nuts to any stuffing recipe. Cooking it outside of the bird will reduce fat and calories in the and essentially eliminates the threat of foodborne illness.

Pumpkin Pie:
Craig’s favorite pie is pumpkin so I always make him what I call the “Can-Pan-Pie” which my mom die if she knew that I don’t make pies “from scratch.” (Sorry mom!) It’s simply a whole wheat crust (I buy from Whole foods) that I fill with the can of Libby’s pumpkin pie mix that you just add two eggs and 2/3 cup Carnation Lowfat Evaporated Milk. Pour that into the pie shell and bake.

High in fiber, pumpkin is loaded with many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, especially beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. And, since pumpkin pie has a single crust, it’s one of the skinniest slices you can get, with about 300 calories a slice compared to 400 and 540 per slice of apple or pecan pie.

Yum! Enjoy!
–Julie

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