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Save 851 calories with this Thanksgiving menu makeover

By Jessie Price, November 3, 2011 - 11:08am

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I adore Thanksgiving, but I don’t adore all the extra calories I consume by eating my favorite foods.
Luckily, the EatingWell Test Kitchen cooks gave the traditional Thanksgiving dinner a healthy makeover that keeps calories in check. With a few simple substitutions, and without changing the classic dishes we all expect at Thanksgiving dinner, we shaved off 851 calories from the entire meal. Best of all, the tricks and techniques used to make these 5 recipes lighter don’t sacrifice taste. Here’s how we did it:

Don’t Miss: Our Best Thanksgiving Recipes

1. Turkey (Save 213 calories!)

Traditional Roasted Turkey (6.5 oz.)
- 368 calories
- 16 g fat
- 7 g saturated Fat
- 0 g fiber
- 994 mg sodium

EatingWell’s Apple-Shallot Roasted Turkey (3 oz.)
- 155 calories
- 5 g fat
- 1 g saturated fat
- 0 g fiber
- 115 mg sodium

How we made it healthier:
Eating healthy-size portions is one of the keys to not overindulging during the holidays (or anytime). EatingWell’s recommended serving size of poultry is 3 ounces cooked, as opposed to most recipes with serving sizes closer to 6 or more ounces. We also recommend removing the skin, which is loaded with saturated fat, before eating the turkey.

While many recipes suggest rubbing the turkey with butter before roasting, there’s no need to if you don’t overcook the bird and dry it out.

To keep sodium in check make sure to use just a bit of salt on the turkey before roasting it and let people add salt at the table depending on personal preference.

2. Gravy (Save 72 calories!)

Traditional Cider Gravy
- 100 calories
- 5 g fat
- 3 g saturated fat
- 1 g fiber
- 477 mg sodium

EatingWell’s Cider Gravy
- 28 calories
- 0 g fat
- 0 g saturated fat
- 0 g fiber
- 56 mg sodium

How we made it healthier:
Many traditional gravy recipes include added butter, which really bumps up calories and fat. The key to our tasty gravy is using all the drippings from the roasting pan (with the fat skimmed off). This gives plenty of flavor without added fat or calories.
Don’t Miss: How to Make Perfectly Smooth Gravy

3. Sweet Potatoes (Save 178 calories!)

Traditional Glazed Sweet Potatoes
- 274 calories
- 11 g fat
- 4 g saturated fat
- 5 g fiber
- 51 mg sodium

EatingWell’s Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 96 calories
- 2 g fat
- 1 g saturated fat
- 2 g fiber
- 118 mg sodium

How we made it healthier:

To keep the calories reasonable, we start with a smaller amount of potatoes. This yields about a 1/2-cup serving size for each person, which is plenty, especially considering all the other food on a Thanksgiving menu.

Given that sweet potatoes are already sweet, we use just enough maple syrup for great flavor without overdoing it; this helps keep calories in check. We also add butter for its flavor—just enough so that the potatoes taste great, but the total fat and saturated fat is still reasonable.

More Recipes to Try: Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole & More Lighter Thanksgiving Casserole Recipes

4. Stuffing (Save 134 calories!)

Traditional Sausage Stuffing
- 371 calories
- 19 g fat
- 6 g saturated fat
- 2 g fiber
- 776 mg sodium

EatingWell's Cornbread & Sausage Stuffing
- 237 calories
- 9 g fat
- 2 g saturated fat
- 3 g fiber
- 609 mg sodium

How we made it healthier:

We opt for lean turkey sausage rather than pork sausage to keep calories and fat in check; this still delivers plenty of great flavor. Many traditional recipes have added butter in the stuffing. We use a bit of chicken broth to keep ours moist without adding any fat or calories.

9 More Stuffing Recipes to Try

5. Pumpkin Pie (Save 254 calories!)

Traditional Pumpkin Pie
- 484 calories
- 33 g fat
- 20 g saturated fat
- 3 g fiber
- 191 mg sodium

EatingWell’s Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie
- 230 calories
- 5 g fat
- 1 g saturated fat
- 2 g fiber
- 179 mg sodium

How we made it healthier:

We make a crust from gingersnap cookies, raisins and a bit of healthy canola oil rather than using a traditional pastry crust. This cuts out the butter and shortening (along with the saturated fat) normally found in a pastry crust. Look for healthier brands of store-bought gingersnaps for the crust that don’t have any partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list.

Many pumpkin pies use cream and whole milk in the pumpkin filling. We combine pureed pumpkin with low-fat frozen yogurt in this untraditional frozen version. We get a creamy, rich result with less total fat, saturated fat and calories. And pumpkin is already sweet, so we limit the amount of sugar we add to the filling to decrease the calories even more.

Lighter Classic Pumpkin Pie and More Thanksgiving Pie Recipes

So dig in without the guilt! Make these satisfying and delicious healthy dishes with your family and friends this year—and save some calories for the next big holiday.

How do you make your Thanksgiving meal healthier? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Jessie Price, Healthy Cooking Blog, Holidays, Recipe Makeover

Jessie Price
Jessie Price is the editor-in-chief of EatingWell magazine. Besides her work on 11 other EatingWell books, she is the author of the James Beard Award-winning The Simple Art of EatingWell and EatingWell One-Pot Meals. She lives in Charlotte, Vermont where she stays busy growing her own vegetables in the summer and tracking down great Vermont food products when she’s not working.

Jessie asks: How do you make your Thanksgiving meal healthier?

Tell us what you think:

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