Healthy Ideas for Thanksgiving

by Jackie on November 26, 2014

Here we are approaching the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving, where the laughter of family and friends, comforting food, and a warm place to take an after-dinner nap occurs. But if you’re the host of the party, it’s possible that you might see an overdone turkey, contaminated stuffing, too many dishes, and fighting in-laws, all against the backdrop of a loud football game.

But what’s for dinner? Every family has their particular food tradition that they just can’t do without. Buttermilk biscuits, string-bean casseroles, and the all-important secret stuffing recipe. But old-fashioned recipes don’t take into account health issues like high cholesterol. Start a new family food tradition with one of these healthy menu ideas and your arteries will surely thank you.

Delicious Spinach-Parmesan Veggie Dip

Start off your Thanksgiving dinner with a healthy dip that will occupy your guests while you get the table ready. This spinach-and-Parmesan dip gets its subtle heat from cayenne pepper. Serve it with cut veggies to keep calories low.


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 14 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (1 ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


Coat a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; set aside. Squeeze spinach dry, reserving 1/3 cup spinach liquid. In prepared cooker combine spinach, the 1/3 cup liquid, artichokes, onion, mustard, garlic, oregano, and pepper.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or on high-heat setting for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off cooker; stir in mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, Italian cheese blend, and lemon juice.

Butternut Squash Dressing

Rich butternut squash and ripe red cranberries shine through in this fall favorite. A mixture of egg, light cream, and low-sodium chicken broth creates an extra-moist dressing without extra fat and calories.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or light cream
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock or reduced-sodium broth
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 8 cups dried sourdough bread cubes


In a Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add fresh cranberries; cook for 1 minute more. Add 2 cups chicken stock, the rice, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Drain.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Return Dutch oven to medium heat. Add remaining butter, squash, and thyme. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Add onion and celery. Cook and stir 3 minutes more. Sprinkle salt and pepper; set aside.

In bowl whisk together half-and-half, eggs, and 1-1/2 cups stock. Stir in cooked rice, squash, dried cranberries, sage, and bread cubes. Transfer to shallow 3-quart casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake for 30 minutes more or until golden. 8 (1/2-cup) servings plus leftovers



Health Contributor at Creative Bioscience
I'm a fitness nut. I know what you're thinking, one of these people who has never been fat a day in her life, and can eat whatever she wants. The truth is I struggled with my weight growing up and lived in a household where everything seemed to be fried. Once I got away from home I realized I had the choice to eat and exercise how I wanted. I've gained a lot of insight into working as a personal trainer, and feel I can relate to others that were in my situation. I think if I can do it then you can to, and if you want to start kicking butt then hop on board and lets get started.

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