Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here and you’ll be gathering with friends and family (some that you’ve not seen in ages, possibly) around a table that’s overflowing with everyone’s favorite foods.
If you’re trying to manage your weight, the idea of having to cook and eat an entire meal of incredibly fattening foods can seem a little stressful to say the least. Lucky for you, it’s really easy to put together a meal that you won’t feel bad about eating or serving to your family.
Here are a few different options for you so that no matter what your family’s taste is, you’ll be able to put a meal on the table that looks award-worthy and tastes it.
Regardless of how often you say dinner won’t be until six or seven, people will always start showing up around two. These next dishes will give those early birds a little something to pick at (and you won’t feel guilty if you end up picking at them yourself).
Broccoli Stuffed Baby Portobello Mushrooms
This doubles as both healthy and vegetarian-friendly. Stuffed mushrooms are delicious, but they’re usually loaded with sausage, crab, and/or bacon which can lead to a ton of caloric consumption without you even realizing it.
This recipe uses broccoli instead – I usually add some garlic and sprinkle a couple of red pepper flakes over top of mine, but the recipe is pretty good without those additions as well.
Roasted Pumpkin Bites
There’s no better time than the present to pick up a local pumpkin (especially with Halloween just a couple of days away).
Fresh pumpkin always tastes better than canned, and here’s an delicious way to display this seasonal fruit – It’s sweet, tangy, and hot (so it probably won’t be a favorite among the kids around the table, but you never know!).
Scandinavian Pickled Herring Bites
My dad adores pickled herring (swears it’s one of the things that keeps him from falling ill, too).
If you have the same type of dad (or uncle, or grandfather… You get the point), he will love this recipe absolutely (that also claims to be a perfect first experience for anyone who’s never tried the pickled fish before).
I’d be careful about not overcooking the potato, though; I feel like that could make or break the dish (I’d also opt for full-fat sour cream since anything low-fat or fat-free screams chemical wasteland to me).
Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa
Do you love chips and salsa but are not such a huge fan of the inches your favourite snack can add to your waistline when you eat too much of it? Then opt for this potassium, fiber, and antioxidant-rich mixture instead.
It’ll be seasonally aesthetically pleasing on your fall-themed table, and it can be used in a bunch of different ways (although I suggest plating it with New York-style flatbreads or on a toasted baguette).
Recipe: Martha Stewart
Using edamame instead of chickpeas to make this hummus is an interesting idea and is sure to add a lovely splash of green color to any appetizer table.
Protip: If you’re going to try and make yours look like the picture (by using a cabbage), put a bowl or container in the cabbage and fill that up – It’ll cause less mess overall and you’ll still be able to use the cabbage for another meal later.
Recipe: Martha Stewart
The Main Event
What’s Thanksgiving without a main course? Regardless of if you have vegetarians in your family, aren’t having the biggest family get-together, or aren’t a fan of turkey, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Herb Roasted Turkey
You don’t have to wrap your turkey in bacon to give it flavor, herbs do a perfectly good job of that! It will look so beautiful when it’s finished cooking that you’ll want to display it as a table centerpiece while it’s resting!
Once it’s carved and on your plate, you can sit back and enjoy one of the juiciest, most flavorful bird you’ve ever roasted!
Personally I’d replace the canola oil with another cold pressed oil or ever organic butter myself, but feel free to work with what you’ve got (If this will be your first time as host and you’ve never roasted a turkey before, here’s an incredibly well put together walkthrough).
Herb Stuffed Turkey Breast
If you’re having a small get together this Thanksgiving, roasting an entire bird will either leave you eating nothing but turkey leftovers for a month or a ton of it will end up going to waste. Instead just cook a couple of turkey breasts (they’re the best part of the bird anyway).
If you (or someone at the table) don’t like turkey, substitute chicken instead (account for one or two chicken breasts per person depending on who you’re feeding – You know your family best!).
Delicata Squash Stuffed With Mushrooms, Farro, Pecans, And Dried Cranberries
If you have a vegetarian or vegan coming to dinner, please make this instead of having to subject them to tofurkey – Fake meat really is as horrible as it sounds.
This recipe comes with a few variations so that no matter what kind of special diet you have to accommodate, you can easily adapt it.
Side dishes are probably my favorite part of any holiday (I’m one of those people who simply cannot survive without my mother’s homemade dressing/stuffing on any holiday). Here are a few different dishes you can be thrilled about having on your Thanksgiving table – For their aesthetic and nutritional value.
Broccoli Potato Puree
This is a great way to get some extra vitamins, and it allows you to enjoy mashed potatoes without having to add a whole lot of butter and cream to make them taste good.
I would steam the vegetables instead of boiling them, and I would maybe also add spinach and/or turnips to them as well.
Make sure you use the type of potatoes the recipe calls for – They can be whipped without turning gummy.
Chunky Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is another Thanksgiving staple, but the canned version that you get at the grocery store is loaded with sugar and other preservatives.
Making your own cranberry sauce with (I recommend) fresh cranberries not only tastes better, but it’ll take you less than 30 minutes – totally worth the effort.
This recipe uses apple juice to help sweeten them which will give you less of a blood sugar spike when you eat them and way more nutrients than by using plain sugar alone.
Recipe: Food and Wine
Green Bean And Shallot Ravioli Salad
Green Bean Casserole is a favorite dish among many dinner tables, but with all the mushroom soup, cream, and fried onions, the calories you ingest can add up fairly quickly.
This recipe offers a new twist with fewer calories (and it’s incredibly tasty! Paste with Thanksgiving dinner might seem incredibly weird, but trust me when I say this is one instance when change is a good thing).
Wheatberry Stuffing With Apricots
Dressing may or may not be the one thing I personally refuse to compromise on, but if you’ve been looking for something to put on the table that’s a little more healthy than the usual carb ridden side dish, this one sounds like it might actually be pretty good.
It uses wheatberries – a versatile whole grain – and rice to hold it together (Please, if anyone decides to make this – Let me know how it turns out).
Recipe: Good Housekeeping
Desserts And Drinks
Even though everyone will absolutely stuff themselves with everything you’ve put out so far, there will still be some guests with a sweet tooth that will be hungry for dessert. And if they’re having some, why shouldn’t you as well?
With these desserts/after dinner drinks, your guests will be raving about what a spectacular host you are! Fair warning – After serving a meal this tasty, you may be asked to host every single holiday meal forever (The drinks I’ve included are all non-alcoholic so that the little ones can have them as well).
Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
Even if you don’t have a vegan in your family, you should seriously consider making this instead of your traditional pumpkin pie – It has more fiber, and less calories, cholesterol, and sodium.
Don’t be weirded out about eating raw pumpkin, either, it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds (it’s even kind of sweet).
Healthier Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin and dark chocolate were basically made for each other, and this recipe showcases them both beautifully. Adding flaxseed to the cookies is an awesome way to get in some extra omega-3s, but I’d almost save that for when you make these for just your family.
It’s the holidays – Live a little! Without the flaxseeds, I think these would have a perfect texture.
Sweet Potato Pie Truffles
A super seasonal alternative to the more traditional chocolate truffle, this will allow you to get your sweet potato pie fix without all of the extra calories and fat that come from the crust.
Either serve these adorable cake pop sized truffles on a seasonal dish or put them on skewers, stick them in a Styrofoam block, and work them into your centerpiece.
Recipe: Clean Eating Mag
This takes warm apple cider to the next level by adding all kinds of seasonal fruits to it.
I might add a tad less allspice myself, but you’ll want to play around with it to suit your personal preference.
If you’re looking to add some alcohol to this for the adults in the room, I’d imagine you’d probably want to go with rum (or possibly even whisky).
Spicy Hot Chocolate
If you prefer your fall to taste a little more chocolatey, this is a drink that you’re going to want to make a ton of (Seriously, if you make it you might want to make a double batch – It’ll go a lot faster than you think!).
There’s even a secret ingredient in it that I promise you can’t even taste (which will make you doubly happy when your little ones start asking for seconds, and probably even thirds).
If you’re looking to make an adult version of this, I would maybe add a coffee lacquer or maybe some Kahlua.
This drink recipe uses cherries and cranberry juice, which makes it perfect for seasonally sipping on. If I were to make it myself, I’d add some mint as well.
If you’d like to make this one for adults, you’d probably want to stick to something a little simpler like vodka or maybe even a fruity wine (although I think this one might already be perfect just as it is in its non-alcoholic state).
Recipe: Bon Appetite
A table filled with all the above recipes will surely be a complete showstopper. Try one (or all) of them this Thanksgiving holiday and let us know what your family thought about it (or them!) in the comments section – We always love hearing what you say!