Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes That Are Delicious

By:    Published: March 21, 2012

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Although the typical Thanksgiving meal involves eating a leaner meat and plenty of vegetables, most people consume a lot more calories than they should on this American holiday. Between the way that certain foods are prepared and the large portions that are typically served, Thanksgiving leaves most people stuffed and gaining the first of those extra holiday pounds. This year, keep Thanksgiving healthy with these simple and easy recipes that focus on both nutrition and great taste.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin has a sweet and rich flavor that makes it perfect for a Fall holiday like Thanksgiving. One of the healthiest ways to prepare pumpkin is to make it in a soup. Pumpkin provides a wealth of health benefits, specifically an extra dose of vitamin A and fiber that contribute to a balanced body. It's an excellent starter or side dish for a Thanksgiving meal since it instantly warms you up and gets those sweet and savory holiday flavors on your palette.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup of unsalted vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup of fat-free milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat a ¼ cup of the water in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion to the saucepan and cook for about 3 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Add the pumpkin, broth, cinnamon, nutmeg and the remaining water to the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes. As the mixture simmers, stir in the milk.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh ground black pepper, then serve.

Lemon-Garlic Natural Turkey

This list of healthy Thanksgiving recipes would not be complete without the main course of any Thanksgiving meal: the turkey. One of the main downsides to most store-bought turkeys is the extra sodium that is added to the meat. For a healthier main course, choose a natural or organic turkey and do your own brining for extra flavor. This recipe uses healthy ingredients like lemon, which is great for its antibacterial and antiviral qualities, and garlic, which is heart-healthy and may reduce the risk of cancer. It also includes a healthy gravy alternative, which includes white wine.

Ingredients:

  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup of lemon juice
  • ½ cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 1 Natural or organic turkey (12 pounds)
  • ¼ cup of freshly grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup of packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of dry white wine
  • 1 can of reduced-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Crush 6 cloves of garlic and add it, along with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and salt, to a large pot with 4 quarts of cold water.
  2. Remove the giblets and excess skin from the turkey if necessary, then submerge the turkey in the pot. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. Remove the turkey from the pot, rinse well and pat dry. Dump out the mixture from the pot.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Put 4 cloves of garlic, lemon zest, oregano, oil, pepper and 2 tablespoons of water in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture becomes a paste.
  6. Rub the paste all over the turkey, getting some under the skin and inside the cavity. Tie the turkey legs together and place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting tack in a large roasting pan. Tuck the wingtips under the turkey.
  7. Roast the turkey for 1 hour.
  8. After one hour, flip the turkey over, add a cup of water to the pan and roast for another hour.
  9. Start basting the turkey with pan drippings every 15 minutes and add a foil tent to the turkey.
  10. Remove the turkey when a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  11. Put the turkey on a cutting board and begin carving it after 20 minutes of cooling.
  12. While waiting for the turkey to cool, put the pan juices in a large glass container and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  13. Whisk flour with ¼ cup of water in a small bowl.
  14. Place the roasting pan over two burners on medium heat. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes.
  15. After ten minutes, take the pan juices out and scrape the fat off the top with a spoon. Throw out the fat and put the rest of the juices and broth in the roasting pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking often.
  16. After simmering for one minute, add the flour mixture. Continue simmering until thickened.
  17. Pour the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve and serve with the turkey.

Cranberry Stuffing

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to bake your stuffing with the turkey. Instead, you can bake it separately, which cuts down on fat and calories considerably. Plus, this recipe include cranberries, which is helpful in reducing cholesterol and preventing certain types of cancer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • 10 slices of whole-wheat bread, toasted and cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup of chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cranberries
  • 1 cup of whole water chestnuts
  • 1 cup of chopped apple
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Heat the chicken broth over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the celery and onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until tender, then remove from heat.
  4. Combine the bread, parsley, tarragon, paprika, nutmeg, cranberries, water chestnuts and chopped apples in a large bowl. Add the onion and celery mixture, then stir until mixed evenly.
  5. Place stuffing in the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered.

Baked Apples

Save yourself a lot of calories, fat and sugar by forgoing the usual apple or pumpkin pie for this fruity dessert. Apples are excellent for your health, especially when it comes to preventing cancer, lowering cholesterol and providing you with essential B vitamins and other nutrients.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of dried cherries, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon of wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon of packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 6 small Golden Delicious apples
  • ½ cup of apple juice
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of dark honey
  • 2 teaspoons of canola oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the cherries, almonds, wheat germ, brown sugar cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Toss together until mixed evenly.
  3. Core each apple, stopping ¾ inch from the bottom. Leave the peels on the apples for added health benefits.
  4. Add the cherry mixture into each apple cavity, pressing down gently.
  5. Place the apples upright in a small baking dish, then pour the apple juice and water into the dish. Drizzle the honey and oil evenly over all the apples.
  6. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
  7. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until apples are tender when pierced with a knife.
  8. Before serving, drizzle the apples with the pan juices.

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