Monday, November 21, 2016

Low Calorie Thanksgiving Dinner Shortcuts - The Easy Way

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner is a great time to get together with family and friends to give thanks and spend time with loved ones and enjoy this low calorie menue Gather around the dining room table to feast and give thanks for the bounty we have received throughout the year.  

Indulging on our favorite appetizers, meats, side dishes and desserts can easily pack on a few pounds.  

Avoid the holiday bloat by eating a healthy thanksgiving meal including lean protein,low-calorie side dishes, drinks and sugar-free deserts.  Stay on track with your diet with the foods you love the most.

Enjoying a huge meal consisting of traditional recipes containing large amounts of butter, fats and sugars.  Leading to unwanted calories and adding extra pounds during the holiday season.  

Staying on track with your diet can be achieved by changing the recipes by reducing the fat and keeping all the flavors you enjoy. 

There is no need to skimp on your favorite dish just modify the ingredients used in each recipe.  Plan ahead and save time by making a few dishes one day in advance to make your dinner party run smoothly.  

Give yourself more time to spend with the family and less time slaving in the kitchen.  I have entertained Thanksgiving dinner for over 20 years and I have found great recipes and short cuts that you and your family will enjoy during this holiday season.
healthy turkey dinner

Turkey is packed full of protein and is considered a traditional entrée during Thanksgiving. Turkeys vary in size and weight and need to be cooked according to the specification on the package. 
 Turkey is easy to prepare a day in advance if you want to save time in the kitchen.  Heat and serve your turkey the next day on a large platter drizzled with pan juices from the cooking process to keep the meat moist.

Roasting the turkey in the oven is a great way to cook the bird and retain the natural juices and flavors for the low fat gravy recipe.  The fat will be removed leaving only gravy from the cooking process. Saving calories and throwing away the fat can make a healthy gravy without losing any flavor. 

Note: is important to clean and wash all surfaces and hands with soap and water before and after preparation. 

Instructions Roasting the Turkey

Roast the turkey in a 325 degree oven for 31/4 to 31/2 hours until the juices run clear and the thermometer registers 180 degrees to 185 degrees.

You will need a large roasting pan.  Defrost your turkey in the refrigerator prior to cooking. Prepare the turkey first remove the plastic wrapper and the gizzards from the cavity and discard the paper. 

Place the gizzards in a medium pan and cover with water.  Bring the water to a slow simmer and cook until done for 1.5 hours. Save the liquid for the gravy.

Clean the bird in a clean sink and wash out the cavity at both ends and wash the skin off as well.  

Pat the turkey dry with a clean paper towel.  

In the bottom of your roasting pan add a rack of raw carrots, celery sticks on the bottom of the pan.  Cut and add two large onions.  

The bottom of your roasting pan should be lined with vegetables. This is a vegetable roasting rack for your turkey to cook on.  The vegetables will add depth and flavor to the turkey and gravy. 

Prepare the turkey by sprinkling salt on the inside of each cavity.  Add 2 Cut onions, 2 cut carrots, 2 stalks of celery. To the inside cavaty of the bird.

Add extra moisture under the skin of the turkey by separating the skin from the meat on the breast of the turkey. 

Herbs Seasoning
Use herbs to season your turkey for added flavor and richness to the meat and sauce.
In a bowl add 1 cup of grape seed oil or olive.  Add the herbs and seasoning of your choice,  1 sprig of sage, parsley, 1 sprig of rosemary( remove leaves from the stem), thyme, salt and pepper.  Mix the oil and herbs in a food processor until smooth.

With your hands place the herbs and oil under the skin of the turkey.  Rub the top of the turkey with olive oil. 

Tie the legs shut with cooking twine and place the turkey on top of the vegetable rack.  

Preheat your oven to the recommended time for cooking.  Each turkey will have cooking instructions on the package.  Add one cup of water to the roasting pan and cover the bird with parchment paper and foil to seal in the juices. 

 Baste the bird once per hour until done. In about three hours the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.  Check the turkey 30 minutes before it is completely done to prevent over cooking.  

Each oven may vary in temperature and it is a good idea to place an oven thermometer inside the oven to prevent over cooking.  

Once the turkey is completely cooked through remove the turkey pan from the oven and set the pan on a cooling rack.  

Keep the turkey covered and let the turkey cool 15 to twenty minutes in the pan.  Slice and serve the turkey on a large platter. Remove the turkey from the pan when it is cool enough to handle.  Remove the vegetables from the pan. Keep the pan juices from the low fat gravy.

Remove the vegetables from the cavity of the bird.  The vegetable can be eaten as a side dish or used in a long grain rice dish instead of stuffing.

low calorie gravy
Low-Calorie Turkey and Giblet Gravy

Adding a low calorie gravy to your dinner table is a great way to add additional flavors from the cooking process.  

Removing the fat and keeping all the juice from the turkey, giblets and vegetables will give you a very tasty gravy sauce. 

All juice in the pan from cooking the turkey
All the juice from cooking the giblets
Total 6-8 cups of liquid from the cooking process.
2 Tablespoons of flour or 1-2 packet of powder gravy mix (This adds great flavor)
1 Cup of hot water
Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the fat from the cooking liquid by separating the liquid from the fat.  If you prepare your turkey in advance you can refrigerate the cooking liquid until it solidifies into a solid.  Scrape the fat off the top of the liquid.  

Throw the fat away and keep the liquid for the gravy.

Instructions for Low-Calorie Gravy
Use the cooking pan you cooked the turkey in.  Add all the liquid from the cooking process.
Slowly heat the liquid to a simmer on top of the stove. 

 Scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan and mix it in the gravy adding more flavor.
In a measuring cup add one cup of hot water and 2 tablespoons of flour or one to two packets of turkey gravy mix.  (I personally like the turkey gravy mix to add flavor and thicken the gravy.)  Mix the ingredients in the hot water.

Slowly add the flour and water mixture or the gravy mix and water to the simmering liquid.  The liquid will thicken.

Serve over the turkey and cauliflower mash to add more turkey flavor without the fat.  Your family will truly enjoy this low-calorie gravy recipe.

healthy rice side dish

Long Grain Rice Side Dish

If you want to save on calories this holiday season try, a long grain low calorie rice dish instead of stuffing.  

This is a nutritious and delicious side dish perfect for entertaining.  You control the ingredients and the calories in making the dish.  

Add extra vegetables of your choice such as diced mushrooms or peas for extra flavor.

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of water
1 cup long grain rice
Vegetables from the cavity of the cooked turkey Chopped

1.) In a frying pan add the olive oil and heat the pan on medium heat.
2.) Add the uncooked rice and slightly cook the rice until browned. 3 minutes ( stir constantly be careful not to burn the rice.  
3.) Add two cups of water the browned rice.  
4.) Bring the water up to a simmer.  Cover the pot for 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.
Add the cooked vegetables ( chopped) to the rice. Heat through and serve. 
If you want more flavor in the rice add a few tablespoons of juice from the cooked turkey.  This rice dish is delicious and a low-calorie alternative to the traditional stuffing recipe.

healthy cauliflower mashed side dish

Healthy Cauliflower Mash (Tastes like Mashed Potatoes

If you want to skip the traditional mashed potatoes and opt in for a great low calorie substitute try mashed cauliflower side dish.  This is easy to prepare and is absolutely delicious. 

1 large head of cauliflower cut into pieces
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup goat cheese or parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon garlic powder ( optional)
½ teaspoon of salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter ( This will give you the flavor of butter without adding too many calories.

Steam the cut cauliflower on medium heat for 18 minutes until the cauliflower is fork tender
Place the cooked cauliflower in a bowl with the butter, Greek yogurt and goat cheese or parmesan cheese.  Use a food processor or and emersion blender to purée.  

Top the mash with chopped green onion or cooked turkey bacon chopped.  Use the topping of your choice to make this delicious cauliflower mash a family favorite at your dinner table.

Add you seasoning to taste.  This dish is great for the holidays or during the week as a healthy side dish.

green bean casserole
Image Courtesy of Lilla Frerichs

Healthy Green Bean Casserole
This casserole dish is a yearly tradition for many families during the holidays.   Try this low calorie version and you will have all the flavor without all the fat.  Make your oven into a dehydrator and make your own dried onions without deep frying.  Use the dried onions to top your green bean casserole or to top any other salad or family favorite.  

Instructions for Dried Onions.
Preheat your oven to 178 degrees
Cut 4 large onions into thin slices.
Separate the onions in to slivers and place the onions on a cookie sheet in a single layer.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven for 2 to 2 ½ hours until the onions are dried and crumbly. 
This will be used on top of the green bean casserole dish.

Green Bean Casserole Instructions
2 Cans of fat-free low-calorie cream of mushroom soup.
1 cup of plain almond milk
8 cups of cooked green beans or 4 cans od drained green beans.

In a large bowl mix the soup, milk and combine
Add the cooked green beans to the milk and soup mixture.
Add one cup of the dried onions Save the rest of the onions for the topping
Add the mixture to a large casserole dish pan.
Top the casserole with the remaining onions. 
This is the low-calorie version and tasted great. 

Low-Calorie Cream Corn

Time Preparation: 5 minutes/ Serves 8
Corn has been a staple in the diet for centuries and is eaten off the corn cob or used in products and recipes we eat every day.  

Traditionally corn is served at thanksgiving in side dishes either plain, corn on the cob, or cream corn.  Today’s healthy recipe is low calorie, low fat cream corn.  Giving you the entire flavor and none of the fat. 

2 15 ounce Cans of corn (drained) or 2 cups of frozen corn
Note: Garnish (Save two Tablespoons of whole cooked corn kernels to garnish the dish.)
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
Pinch of salt
Fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of butter for flavoring (Optional)

  1. Add the corn to a small pot
  2. Add the soy milk to the corn and stir.  Bring the mixture up to a simmer and heat through 3-5 min.
  3. Use a blender or emersion blender to puree the corn and soy milk.
  4. Add the salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir to combine
  5. Serve hot.  Sprinkle a few corn kernels on top of this creamy side dish

You family will love this traditional side dish and won’t miss the heavy cream at all.

low calorie appitizers
Healthy Low-Calorie Appetizers for Entertaining

When you entertain guests or family it is always nice to serve appetizers before any meal.  This is a nice way to welcome guests as they arrive at your dinner party.  

Drinks can be served and your guests can have healthy low- calorie appetizers as they mix and mingle.  Today’s low-calorie appetizers are fresh cut vegetables, fruit, wheat crackers, low-fat goat cheese, pitted olives and garden vegetable dip.

Garden Dip Ingredients
2 Cups of plain yogurt
½ Cup finely diced carrots Diced
1 Package of frozen drained thawed spinach (squeeze out all the water)
1 Package of ranch seasoning mix (if you want to add more seasoning you can it is your preference)

  1. In a bowl add the yogurt and seasoning and mix.  Taste the mixture and determine if you want more seasoning.  Add more seasoning to taste.
  2. Add the spinach and carrots.  Mix well with a mixer.
  3. Chill the dip in the refrigerator and let the flavors combine.

This is a delicious dip served with fresh cut vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, and asparagus.  

Serve the chilled garden vegetable dip in a small blow in the center of a large platter.  Cut your washed vegetables into bite size pieces and arrange the vegetables around the platter surrounding the dip.  

This is a delicious and healthy appetizer your family and friends will enjoy.
Serve fresh cup apple slices sprinkled with lemon juice along with low-fat goat cheese, lean tofu turkey slices, wheat crackers, pitted olives and side salad. 

 Serving healthy appetizers and beverages before the meal is a great way to begin any dinner party.  

sugar free pumpkin pie
Image Courtesy of Evan- Amos

Pumpkin Pie is traditionally made with ingredents that will promote weight gain.  Try this delicious sugar free low calorie pumpkin pie recipe at your next thanksgiving dinner. 

Paleo Almond Pie Crust Ingredients
2 ½ cups almond flour
½ cup Tapioca flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
4 tablespoons of coconut oil melted

1.) Add all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork to combine
2.) Form the mixture into a ball and chill of use right away.
3.) prinkle some almond flour on the counter top and rolling pin to prevent the dough from sticking.
4.) Roll the dough out ¼ inch thick 9 inches in diameter to fit an 8 inch  pie shell.
5.) Place the dough in the pie shell.
6.) Fold the edges of the dough around the pie shell
7.) Make a decorative edge in the dough by using your fingers to crimp the edges or use a wooden spoon to make a pattern around the edge of the crust.
8.)Egg Wash: mix one egg in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water.  Mix the egg and water.
Brush the sides of the dough before baking

Sugar-free Pumpkin Pie filling
1 Packet of sugar-free pudding mix ( Cooking pudding mix)  This will sweeten and thicken the pie
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 15 ounce can of pure pumpkin puree
1 can of Carnation Evaporated milk or 1 cup of soy milk
2 Large eggs

1.) Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
2.) Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
3.) Place the pie shell on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet
4.) Pour the pie filling into the pie shell
Place the pie in a 425 degrees F oven for 15 minutes
5.) Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 40 -50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean. 
6.) Serve cooled.   Top with low fat vanilla yogurt.  Sprinkle with cinnamon to garnish.

Any recipe can be modified to remove the fat and sugars leaving you with a healthy low-calorie meal.  Enjoy your holidays and stay on track with your diet plan with these delicious recipes.

If  you like these recipes and want more information on weight loss visit 
Weight loss diet plans for more information. 

 Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Leave me a comment.  What is your favorite low-calorie recipe?

Patricia Lynn


Images Courtesy of Aporonia at and