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Home First Posted Oct 31, 2008
Feb 20, 2010

Our 2008 Thanksgiving Recipes

My husband and I will be enjoying Thanksgiving with our daughter and her husband. This is the menu that I plan to make for everyone to enjoy. There is lots of variety. Everything is healthy. The problem will be eating in moderation--appropriate portions! There will also be wine served, of course, but I do not drink that. To me it is just empty calories, although it certainly enhances any feast. I survive. When my husband chooses the wine I will add it to this menu.

Crab meat Spread Recipe


A picture-perfect addition to any holiday spread, this crab meat pomegranate dip is low in calories compared with the typical veggie dip. Light mayo is the only ingredient that adds a few fat calories; otherwise this holiday appetizer is protein-packed and full of flavor.

Makes 16 appetizer servings

8 oz lump crab meat, drained and shell pieces removed
4 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tbsp finely chopped green scallion tops or chives
1 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
Assorted crudités (red pepper strips, cucumber slices, and carrot sticks)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Mix crab meat with mayonnaise, scallions, and lime juice. Mound crab meat mixture in the center of a platter and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Arrange colorful vegetables around the plate.

Per serving: 26 calories, 3 g protein, 0.4 g carbohydrate, 1.4 g fat

Stuffed Fig Recipe


Pigs in a blanket are a holiday no-no, laden with 6 grams of fat and not a lot of nutritional value per each bite-sized portion. Stuffed figs (the figs replace the pigs) wrapped in prosciutto are delicious and nutritious -- cutting the calorie count down to 85 and the fat grams almost in half.

Makes 12 appetizer servings
12 large fresh figs (mission or any other fresh variety)
2 oz goat cheese (Feta)
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 12 strips
2-3 oz balsamic vinegar
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut figs in half but not all the way through. Stuff the fig with a small scoop of goat cheese and press gently to seal. Wrap stuffed fig in a strip of prosciutto to secure cheese, tuck ends of prosciutto under fig. Place figs on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over each fig. Bake figs 8 to 10 minutes; serve warm.

Per serving: 93 calories, 3.5 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fat, 1.4 g saturated fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 145 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 26%.


No frills! I plan to make a regular salad with chopped (or torn) romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, chopped hearts of palm, black olives, fresh basil leaves, drained mandarin oranges, and a good balsamic vinegar for the dressing. Make sure to wash and drain your veggies. Do not put the dressing on the veggies ahead of time as it tends to wilt the veggies. You can certainly get as fancy as you want, but I like to save space for the goodies. I put the balsamic vinegar on the table in a cruet for everyone to apply themselves.

Potatoes or Yams

I don't do this because there is stuffing and that is enough starch. Many people feel that Thanksgiving is just not Thanksgiving with candied yams or mashed potatoes. You can find some really good recipes for this by Googling "candied yams" or "mashed potatoes."


Oh, my favorite part of the Thanksgiving Dinner and--the most fattening! I bake the stuffing in a casserole dish instead of in the bird. That way the stuffing does not absorb the fat from the bird.


2 cups diced celery
1/2 cup minced onion sauteed in PAM
3 cups low fat chicken broth
1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil (I use olive oil because it has more flavor)
3 eggs, beaten or use egg beaters if you are watching your cholesterol. (1/4 cup egg beaters=1 egg)
4 quarts whole grain bread cut into cubes or multi grain bread (You can also buy packaged stuffing such as Pepperage Farm. One day off the diet does not kill anyone!
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup cut up dried apricots
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tbsp. sage
1 pinch dried thyme


Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onions and cook until soft. Add celery and stir well. Add two cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Dump in raisins and dried apricots.
In a large mixing bowl, toss bread cubes, eggs, salt, pepper, sage and thyme.
Add onion, celery, raisins, and dried apricot mixture and combine thoroughly.

If you are using a casserole dish instead of stuffing the bird add a bit more of chicken broth to mixture to keep it moist. Dry stuffing is yucky!

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes in a casserole dish sprayed inside with PAM. This helps stop the stuffing from sticking to the casserole dish. The stuffing should be lightly browned on the top.


I buy the canned gravy in the store. Shame on me! They have low fat gravy that it quite good. I often add mushrooms and some white wine and simmer the gravy in a pot. I also add pepper. Some people will add the cooked giblets, cut up, from the bird or sausage. My family does not like that.

Cranberry Sauce

I buy the whole cranberries in the plastic package and follow the cooking instructions on the back. I do the whole cranberries. After following and completing the instructions on the package, I add cinnamon, raisins, pecans, and orange juice or orange liquor (Triple sec is cheaper than Grand Manier), to taste. Again, I am a lazy cook. Just use your imagination.

The Bird (Turkey)

Preparation time: About 5 hours.

* Need help figuring out how big a turkey to get? Butterball has a turkey calculator that helps you figure out just how many pounds you need. In general, plan for:

12-15 lb turkey for 10-12 people
15-18 lb turkey for 14-16 people
18-22 lb turkey for 20-22 people


1 turkey, proxy. 15 lbs.*
1 or 2 Apples-quartered
Olive oil
Garlic powder

Cooking Method:

To start, if the turkey has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in its plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. While in the refrigerator, and or while you are bringing it to room temp, have the bird resting in a pan, so that if the plastic covering leaks for any reason, you are confining the juices to the pan. If you get a frozen turkey, you will need to defrost it in the refrigerator for several days first. Allow approximately 5 hours of defrosting for every pound. So, if you have a 15 pound turkey, it will take about 75 hours to defrost it in the refrigerator, or around 3 days.

Handle a raw turkey with the same amount of caution as when you handle raw chicken. Use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. I use a plastic one that can be put in the dishwasher--never a wood one. The absorbs the juices and bacteria. Wash you hands with soap before touching anything else in the kitchen. Use paper towels to clean up. If your turkey has its legs tied together with plastic ties, well, I cut them off. In fact, I do not truss up the turkey at all. I am just plain lazy! Take the giblets out of the turkey. They are either in the hole or stuffed under the skin in a paper sack up by the neck area. Wash the bird inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut up the apples into quarters and stuff in the cavity of the bird as well as a few under the skin in the neck area. Put some olive oil on your hands and rub it onto the bird, top and underside. Sprinkle some pepper and garlic powder on the breast area of the bird. Place the bird in a throw away baking pan (easier clean-up). Those pans tend to be very bendable so be careful that you have the proper support when lifting the bird in and out of the oven. I put a big broiler pan under the throw away pan for support.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place turkey breast up
I also put some tin foil over the turkey breast so it does not get too brown. I remove it about 1/2 hour before the turkey is done.
Put the turkey in the oven. Check the cooking directions on the turkey packaging. Gourmet turkeys often don't take as long to cook. Cooking time of about 15 minutes for every pound is what I use if the bird is not stuffed. For the 15 lb. turkey, start the cooking at 400 degrees F. for the first 1/2 hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. for the next 2 hours. Then reduce the heat further to 225 degrees F. for the next hour to hour and a half.

I wiggle the legs to see if the turkey is done. They should move up and down a bit. The best way is to use a meat thermometer. Again, I am lazy, but this is how you do it: Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, a half hour before the turkey should be done. The dark meat in the thigh should be about 175 degrees F. The white meat in the breast should be 160 degrees F. to 165 degrees F. If you don't have a meat thermometer, you can wiggle the legs like I suggested above and/or spear the breast or the leg where it joins the bird's body using a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink. The bird has to be cooked thoroughly but not dried out.

Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Hopefully, someone at the table will be happy to carve it, or you can carve it before serving. However, it won't be a big production of the whole bird that way. We do not care. We have seen a turkey before. You can spruce up the visual when serving by adding some rosemary sprigs or whatever you may have in the kitchen. Lemon slices also add color and smell. Just place them on the serving plate around the cut meat or whole bird.

Low-Calorie Desserts

Apple Crisp

What's a holiday feast without a little apple pie? It may be an age-old tradition on your table come November and December, but there's a slimmer way to do it. While it's not exactly lean cuisine, this crisp is certainly a step in the right direction, especially if you use a no-trams fat margarine and a sugar substitute, in lieu of the real thing. Topping out at around 220 calories and 8 grams of fat, this dessert is a big nutritional improvement with almost no sacrifice in taste.

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tbsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp no-trans fat margarine

4 cups cored and thinly sliced apples (pippin and Granny Smith work well), firmly packed
1/4 cup sugar (or substitute 2 tbsp Plena)(or 1/4 Splenda)
1 tbsp apple pie spice
2 tbsp unbleached flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch baking dish, 9-inch cake pan, or deep-dish pie plate with canola cooking spray or PAM. Toast the walnuts by spreading on a pie plate and heating in oven until fragrant (about 7 minutes). Chop the nuts medium fine.

Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Cut margarine into the mixture until the topping resembles small peas or until crumbly. Add the chopped nuts and mix well. (The topping can be prepared up to a week ahead and refrigerated)

Put the sliced apples in a large bowl. Add the sugar (or Splenda) and apple pie spice to a 1-cup measure, then pour over the apples and toss. Sprinkle flour over the apples and mix gently. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spoon the topping over the apples, pressing down lightly. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any overflow. Bake on the center rack of oven until the topping is golden brown and the juices have thickened slightly, about 35-45 minutes.

Per serving (using Take a Healthy Choice margarine): 214 calories, 3 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.5 g fiber, 33.5 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 34%.

No Bake Pumpkin Pie (Sugar free) I cannot imagine Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie. I try to avoid as much sugar as possible to keep glucose levels down. The following is a sneaky way to make a delicious, healthy, pumpkin pie.


15 oz. canned pumpkin
2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice or use some ground cinnamon and cloves
3 cups skim milk
2 packages of Jell-O sugar free instant vanilla pudding/pie filling
1/2 tub of sugar free Cool Whip and reserve the remainder to put on dollop on top of pie pieces
1 packet of gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
1 9" pie crust, bake it separately (I buy this in the grocery store. Sometimes I will make a graham cracker pie crust with Splenda and canola oil instead of sugar, butter or margarine) Sometimes I buy a premade graham cracker pie crust in the grocery story. Grocery store graham cracker crusts do not have to be baked. Do whatever is your personal preference.


Pour milk into a large saucepan.
Dissolve Gelatin in 1/4 cup water and pour into milk
Stir in pudding until dissolved.
Add pumpkin pie spice until dissolved.
Add pumpkin and mix until well blended.
Poor this into a separate mixing bowl. Let cool for a mini te or two.
Mix half the cool whip into pumpkin mixture after it has cooled from above.
Pour mixture into pie crust and chill. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
Put into refrigerator to chill
When you serve it add a dollop of the extra cool whip on each piece, if desired.