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Enjoy Thanksgiving & Still Lose Weight

9:37 AM, Nov 8, 2011   |    comments
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Enjoy Thanksgiving and Still Lose Weight

By: Emily Hoffman, MS, RD, LD/N

Did you know that the traditional Thanksgiving meal boasts a whopping 2,800 to 3,500 calories? This means in one meal you will eat about 2 days worth of calories or more and then usually follow it up with an afternoon of inactivity, taking a nap or watching football.  Thanksgiving is one meal that usually does not fit into your weight loss plan.  But, what if you could enjoy thanksgiving dinner and still lose weight?  It is possible with portion control and choosing your recipes wisely. Check out the menu below for an easy way to keep with the traditional Thanksgiving meal and still lose weight! 

Thanksgiving Day Menu

Herb-Roasted Turkey     Easy Bread Stuffing

Green Bean Casserole     "Mashed Potatoes"

Praline Sweet Potatoes     Cranberry Sauce

Naked Pumpkin Pie 

Herb-Roasted Turkey


  • 1 10-12 pound turkey, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • ¼ cup minced fresh herbs, plus 20 whole sprigs (thyme, rosemary, parsley. sage, oregano and/or marjoram)
  • 2 TB canola oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ cups onion, apple, lemon and/or orange- cut into 2in pieces
  • 2 cups water + more as needed



  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven: preheat to 475 degrees F
  2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities. Place turkey breast-side up in a large roasting pan; pat dry with paper towels. Mix minced hers, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat.
  3. Place onion, apple, lemon and or/orange plus 10 sprigs of fresh herbs into the cavity.  Tuck the wing tips under the turkey and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add remaining 10 herb sprigs plus 3 cups of water to the pan.
  4. Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown (about 45 minutes). Remove the turkey from oven. Insert remote digital thermometer (if using) into the deepest part of the thigh close to the joint. Cover the breast with a double layer of foil, cutting as necessary to conform to the breast.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue roasting turkey for 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ hours more. If pan dries out, tilt turkey to let juices run out into the pan and add 1 cup of water. The turkey is done when the thermometer registers 165 degrees F.  If using an instant-read thermometer, insert into thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone.
  6. Transfer turkey into serving platter and cover with foil. Let turkey sit 20 minutes prior to removing string and carving.

Portion: 3 oz                          Calories: 155 calories

Easy Bread Stuffing


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 14 slices of whole wheat bread cubed
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced mushrooms
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic
  • 2 - 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1-2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat a large sauté pan. Once heated, add oil and spray with cooking spray. Then add carrots and sauté.  Add celery, onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Add additional cooking spray, if needed, and continue sautéing until veggies are tender. 
  3. Remove from heat. Transfer to bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  4. In a large bowl add bread stuffing and veggies. Toss together. Season with pepper and poultry seasoning. Add chicken broth, mixing until moist but not soaking.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  5. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray and add stuffing mix. Cover with foil. Bake 20-25 minutes. Uncover and cook additional 10 minutes or until slightly crispy on top.

Portion: ½ cup                       Calories: 160

Green Bean Casserole


  • 1 lb fresh or frozen Green Beans
  • About ½ cup water
  • 1 10 ½ oz can low-sodium Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • ¾ cup Skim Milk
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper

Frazzled onions

  • 1 large onion- cut in half and then sliced very thin
  • ¾ cup all purpose Flour
  • Cooking spray
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Thaw green beans or for fresh green beans, clean, trim and cut.
  3. Add about ½ cup water to pan and cook over stove until almost tender. While beans are cooking, make the frazzled onions. 
  4. Spread onions out on wax or parchment paper. Sprinkle salt over onions and let sit for 1 minute, no longer.
  5. In gallon plastic bag put add flour and onions. Shake bag until onions are fully coated. 
  6. Heat large skillet, spray with cooking spay and add coated onions- shaking off excess flour.  Turn frequently while cooking until onions are brown and crisp. 
  7. Drain green beans. In casserole dish combine green beans, soup, milk pepper and ½ of the crisped onions.   
  8. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes then top with the rest of the onions and cook an extra 5 minutes.

Portion: ½ cup                       Calories: 70



Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"


  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and florets steamed
  • ¼ cup plain fat free Greek yogurt
  • 2 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. After you have steamed or boiled the trimmed cauliflower florets, drain and return to pan.
  2. Mash or blend well and stir in the yogurt, low fat cream cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Put mixture in round baking dish, cover and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Portion: ½ cup                       Calories: 55


Praline Sweet Potatoes


  • 1 cup yams, cooked and mashed
  • 6 Splenda packets
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


  • 2 tsp. packed brown sugar
  • 2 Splenda packets
  • 1 Tbsp chopped pecans
  • 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Lightly grease (or spray with cooking spray) baking dish
  3. In a blender, combine sweet potatoes, Splenda, egg white and vanilla.  Process until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into baking dish.
  4. In medium bowl, mix together ingredients for topping. Lightly sprinkle mixture on top of sweet potato mixture. Spray top with butter-flavored spray and bake until lightly browned or about 30 minutes.

Portion: ½ cup                       Calories: 102

Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 (12 oz) pkg fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water or no-calorie cranberry juice
  • Sugar substitute to taste



  1. Combine cranberries and water in a saucepan.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  \
  2. Remove from heat.  Cool to room temperature.  Stir in sugar substitute. 
  3. Refrigerate until serving time.

Portion: ¼ cup                       Calories: 21


Naked Pumpkin Pie


  • 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • ½ cup fat-free evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup egg whites (carton) or 3 egg whites
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup Splenda
  • 1 Tbsp sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. In large mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin and fat-free milk. Add egg whites and mix again. Then add salt, spice, vanilla, and Splenda. Mix together with whisk to blend.
  3. Spray pie pan with cooking spray.  Pour mixture into pie pan  and cook in over for 15 minutes at 425. Leave pie in oven, reduce heat to 325 and bake an additional 45 minutes, or until filling is set and knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Top with a little fat-free Cool Whip for creamy taste.
    Portion: 1/8 pie                      Calories: 52 (72 with Cool Whip)


Total for the above Thanksgiving Menu:   615 calories.

The preceding information was provided by Emily Hoffman, MS, RD, LD/N at Memorial Hospital.

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