Nutrition Articles

SparkPeople's 500-Calorie Thanksgiving Feast

Enjoy All the Trimmings--and Still Stay Trim

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SparkRecipes Feast Calories Fat Traditional Meal Calories Fat
Herb Roasted Turkey, 3 oz light meat 140 3 g Turkey, 3 oz light meat 140 3 g
Apple Cider Gravy, 2 T 20 0 g Gravy, 2 T 50 2 g
Vegetable and Fruit Stuffing, 1/2 c 78 1 g Stuffing, 1/2 c 180 9 g
Roasted Root Vegetables, 1/2 c 82 2 g Mashed potatoes, 1/2 c 220 8 g
Cranberry Relish, 2 T 42 0 g Cranberry jelly, 2 T 55 0 g
Steamed green beans (or another
green vegetable), 1/2 c
15 0 g Green bean casserole, 1/2 c 120 8 g
Roasted Squash Soup, 1 c 128 3 g Cream-based soup, 1 c 250 18 g
Total: 505 9 g Total: 1,015  48 g

This SparkPeople meal has 510 fewer calories and 39 fewer grams of fat than a traditional feast! You'll find all the recipes to make it below! These recipes include a veggie-rich soup to start your meal off right, the juiciest turkey you'll ever taste, several sides, two desserts, plus a cranberry relish that will leave the store-bought jelly quivering in its can.

BONUS! Click here to download and print a colorful recipe book that includes all of these recipes! (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download this pdf document.)


 
Chef Meg's Roasted Squash Soup
Studies have shown that starting a meal with a broth-based soup can fill you up, so you eat fewer calories over the course of a meal. This soup gets a boost of flavor from cilantro pesto, but there's very little fat in this version. TIP: Roast the squash ahead of time and freeze it. Your oven will be full on Thanksgiving, and this will save you some valuable time.
 

 
Chef Meg's Herb Roasted Turkey
When the fat from the turkey melts during cooking, it falls to the bottom of the roasting pan. When that happens, the bottom quarter of the bird does not roast--it braises in its own juices. To prevent this from happening, try using a V-rack in your roasting pan for perfect results!
 

 
Chef Meg's Apple Cider Gravy
Traditional gravy gets a bad rap, but this tasty sauce can be made with almost no fat. The trick is to skim the fat from your pan juices (either put it in the fridge or use cheesecloth to soak up the fat). Depending on their size, turkeys will yield varying amounts of juices. From a 12-pound roasted turkey, you can expect about 1/2 cup defatted jus (juice).
 

 
Chef Meg's Cranberry Relish
Toss the canned cranberry jelly and use this homemade version instead. It's ready in no time, has less sugar than the store-bought stuff, and is full of healthy fruit! While you might question why this recipe needs the amount of sugar it contains, you'll understand as soon as you taste fresh cranberries--they're tart!
 

 
Chef Meg's Vegetable and Fruit Stuffing
Whole-wheat bread gives this side staying power. The fruits and vegetables bulk up the dish, so a little goes a long way. A bit of turkey bacon adds another layer of flavor without adding many calories.
 

 
Chef Meg's Roasted Root Vegetables
This recipe sings of the fall and early winter harvest. Take advantage of your local farmers market and buy whatever root vegetables they have. This side dish is quite affordable, too: about 60 cents per serving!
 

 
1/2 cup steamed green vegetables of your choice
The calories are low, the fat is nonexistent, and adding a vegetable to your plate will help prevent you from filling up on empty calories. Try broccoli, spinach, green beans, or any other non-starchy vegetable.

But wait. We couldn't forget dessert!
A slice of pie can contain between 240 and 400 calories and at least 10 grams of fat. But for just 150 calories or so, you can have two of these bite-size tarts. These portion-controlled pies are the perfect end to a your Thanksgiving feast.


 
Chef Meg's Sweet Potato Tarts
Try these light and low-fat personal pies for dessert during the fall. They're a great substitute for pumpkin pie or sweet potato casserole. NOTE: To boost the fiber, you can look for whole-wheat phyllo dough, which is available at natural foods stores or in the health food section of many grocery freezers.
 

 
Chef Meg's Mini Apple Tarts
Instead of a whole pie, try making bite-size tarts! These diminutive desserts cook quicker and are automatically portion controlled. Plus, they're easier to make for a crowd, and there's no need for a fork and plate. This recipe only costs about $3.50 to make--but you save money by buying sheets of phyllo dough and making your own tart shells (see directions for more information).
 

 
Chef Meg's Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
There's no need to buy pumpkin pie spice. You can easily make your own at home. And it makes a great hostess gift for any fall event! Feel free to double or triple this recipe!
 


There you have it. A full Thanksgiving meal that's trim--but not missing any of the trimmings. Armed with these healthy recipes, no one has to fear Thanksgiving dinner--except for maybe the turkey!

Click here to download and print a colorful recipe book that includes all of these recipes! (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download this pdf document.) You can also click the "SHARE" button at the top or bottom of this article to send these recipes to your friends!
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About The Author

Meg Galvin Meg Galvin
A World Master Chef and mother of three, Meg hosts a regional television show called "The Dish" and helps develop and test healthy recipes for SparkRecipes.com.

Member Comments

  • SOAKEDGIRL
    I'm sorry to say that is one boring menu. I guess we are much more creative cooks so our challenge is to limit eating everything. We have smoked salmon, bbq pork, corn casserole, chopped salads, grilled vegs, deviled eggs, fruit, etc. With of course the traditional Turkey, gravy etc. I did a preplanned dinner plate in ww this week that was a terrific visual and I only plan the 2 tb rule. Just a taste. - 11/20/2013 11:42:20 AM
  • My family has been making Thanksgiving healthier over the last several years. I make "autumn pumpkin pudding" and "Zesty Orange-Cranberry Sauce".

    HOWEVER, I also believe that we should allow ourselves a couple days each year to NOT count our calories. For me, Thanksgiving is one of those days. I will not be tracking me food on that day.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. - 11/20/2013 7:04:18 AM
  • Thank you so much. I can't wait for Thanksgiving to get here and have my table looking as yummy as your. - 11/19/2013 6:10:32 PM
  • PSYCHNAT
    Thanks for the menu - it looks yummy and I can't wait to try it out on my family this year! - 10/19/2013 12:10:33 AM
  • Looksdelicious!


    - 12/13/2010 7:52:39 AM
  • BS8071
    Thanks for this healthier alternative. Definitely will try out some of these recipes... - 11/19/2010 4:57:18 PM
  • Thanks for such great, tempting suggestions. I usually bake yams, then blend with a zapped chopped apple, adding dried cranberries & some pecans at the end. But ideas on how to cut calories on other side dishes is great! That soup sounds good for anytime! Happy holidays! - 11/19/2010 1:22:29 PM
  • I wish this had been out in time for CANADIAN THANKSGIVING. But I will try them out at Christmas. - 11/19/2010 11:04:37 AM
  • SCDUTTON
    Thanks so much for the new improved cranberry relish-my children love to hear the cranberries POP! - 11/22/2009 6:17:35 PM
  • I love this! I only wish it was autimatically under Thursday's dinner in our nutritional planner. - 11/22/2009 10:02:21 AM
  • SUSHAH
    Thank you for sharing, not only the menu itself, but also the recipes. Creating healthier, yet tasty, versions of favorite recipes is oftentimes a challenge - but you made it easy this time. Thank you again and Happy Thanksgiving!! - 11/17/2009 7:08:09 AM
  • Some great ideas here. I really appreciate the article. I do wish, however, there was some info on how to put that many dishes together for one meal. What can be made ahead, or at least partially prepped ahead?? I usually start prepping a couple days ahead and use crockpots to make day-of more managable. - 11/12/2009 5:11:27 PM
  • What a wonderful give from you, Chef Meg! I'm not cooking for Thanksgiving, but I will definitely use these recipes. I've already saved them to my desktop. OUTSTANDING! - 11/11/2009 9:50:58 PM
  • Amazing; thanks Chef Meg - the suggestions came at just the right time; before we go overboard with calories. - 11/10/2009 7:03:30 PM
  • All of this looks so good. I can't wait to start cooking these in my kitchen! - 11/10/2009 1:22:05 PM

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