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A skinny girl's Thanksgiving day menu

Claire is an aspiring nutritionist (and soon to be culinary student) with a serious addiction to bacon, wine, goat cheese and online shopping. She is recently married to a social media guru who loves *almost* everything she conjures up. ...

Stay skinny & enjoy Thanksgiving this year!

Thanksgiving is the one time of year people let loose with their diets. They wear pants with elastic waistbands, load their plates up on decadent comfort food and eat at least two to four pounds of food in just one sitting. Trust me, I know this ritual all too well. However, I also know the guilt and discomfort that also follows Thanksgiving. And every year I vow to eat lighter, healthier and actually enjoy my food. So this year, I've whipped up a "skinny girl's" Thanksgiving, complete with the comfort foods I love, made over!

Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks, celebrating time with family and friends and relaxing, not calorie counting, stressing and guilt eating. So swap out a few of your higher fat Thanksgiving recipe favorites for these low-calorie and low-fat dishes and allow yourself to enjoy this Thanksgiving while still staying svelte and healthy.

Herb & lemon roasted turkey

When it comes to the big players on your Thanksgiving table, turkey is one staple that you don't have to stay away from. Full of protein (almost 32 grams in a 4 ounce serving), vitamin B and selenium (cancer fighting antioxidant), turkey is one of the leanest and best meats out there. Add some fresh herbs and lemon for a truly delicious (and aromatic!) Thanksgiving turkey.

Herb & lemon roasted turkey

Yields: 12 (3 ounce) servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 (10 pound) turkey
  • 1/2 cup of fresh herbs (like oregano, rosemary, basil)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Liberal dashes of salt and pepper
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan.
  3. Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place the lemons into the cavity of the turkey. Use a few slices of lemon and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the breast. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add two cups water, one cup of chicken broth and fresh herbs (as garnish) to the roast pan.
  4. Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown, 45 minutes. Stick a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the meat. Cover (with foil) and bake at reduced heat (350 degrees F) for 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 hours more. Using a turkey baster, liberally juice the turkey while it roasts, about every 15-20 minutes. If the bottom gets dry, add additional chicken broth. Once turkey registers 165 degrees F, it's done.
  5. Let cool, transfer to a serving platter and carve!

Mashed cauliflower

If you are looking to cut calories, try swapping out regular mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower. You'll save yourself up to 100 calories without sacrificing taste. This cauliflower recipe is smooth, savory and creamy, especially with the addition of goat cheese.

Mashed cauliflower

Yields: About 6 (1 cup) servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1 cup goat cheese
  • 4 tablespoons low-fat cream
  • Liberal dashes salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

  1. Chop cauliflower up, including stems. Place in a large microwave safe bowl and heat for about eight minutes, until soft.
  2. Place warmed cauliflower, goat cheese, cream, salt and pepper and butter into a food processor and pulse until creamy. Garnish with butter and extra salt and pepper and enjoy!

Warm wine, green bean & feta salad

One of the biggest calorie and fat traps on that Thanksgiving table is not hidden in the desserts. In fact, it's hiding in green beans. Green bean casserole can have up to 300 calories and 14 grams of fat per serving. Forgo that fat and sauté green beans in wine, a bit of olive oil and feta for a delicious and healthy side dish!

Warm wine, green bean & feta salad

Yields: About 6 (1 cup) servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh green beans
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, like chardonnay
  • Liberal dashes salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about two minutes. Add in garlic, mushrooms and green beans and cook for about five to six minutes, until vegetables have softened.
  2. Add wine and salt and pepper. Cook until wine has cooked out. Take vegetables off heat and add in feta. Serve warm and enjoy!

Cheddar and chive cornbread

Although a dinner roll is not going to completely derail your diet, many homemade rolls can have up to a stick of butter in the batter. Instead of over indulging at the bread bowl, whip up this incredibly flavorful and low-fat cheesy chive cornbread. Although I love cornbread with butter, this recipe is so flavorful as is, you don't need anything on it!

Cheddar and chive cornbread

Yields: About 12 slices of cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 cup part skim, extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch glass cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, sugar and baking powder. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk and melted butter. Add dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. Add in chives and cheese until fully mixed.
  3. Pour batter into the greased pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Frozen pumpkin mousse pie

Regular pumpkin pie is one of the healthiest pies out there, however, when paired with high fat, high calorie whipping cream, it can do a bit of diet damage. Instead, enjoy a creamy, chilled piece of frozen pumpkin pie. You'll get the flavor of pumpkin you love with a creaminess added in from fat-free ice cream.

Frozen pumpkin mousse pie

Yields: About 8 slices

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 30 small gingerbread cookies
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Cooking spray

Pie filling:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 cups fat-free vanilla ice cream

Directions:

  1. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch deep pie dish with cooking spray. Combine gingersnaps and raisins in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add oil and pulse until blended. Using a spatula, press the crust mixture to the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Bake for about 10 minutes and let cool completely.
  2. To make the filling: Combine pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Add in ice cream and mix until blended. Spoon the mixture into the cooled pie crust and freeze until firm, about two hours.
  3. Before serving, let pie defrost in a refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Don't let the holiday weight get to you this year. Stay skinny and enjoy your favorite foods!

More Thanksgiving recipes

Healthy Thanksgiving side dishes
Low carb Thanksgiving traditions
Thanksgiving turkey recipes for the whole family

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