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A Low Fat Thanksgiving Menu


Thanksgiving dinner can leave us feeling more stuffed than a turkey, yet we repeat this overindulgence year in, year out. If you want to break the habit and enjoy a more modest Thanksgiving with lighter versions of all your favorites, here is a low fat Thanksgiving menu that's easier on your waistline -- so long as you are also careful with portions and second helpings. Also, don't feel obligated to have something of everything. Perhaps one kind of potato is just fine for you, and perhaps you'd rather skip the biscuits. Not fond of brussels sprouts? Choose roasted parsnips and carrots instead. As for dessert, there are two options listed here: a lightened pumpkin pie, and perfectly portioned maple pecan tarts. I suggest having one or the other rather than both -- perhaps saving the one you don't have on Thanksgiving for the next day's sweet treat.

1. Spinach and Pear Salad

Spinach and Pear Salad
Fiona Haynes
Enjoy a multi-textured salad of tender baby spinach, pears, dried cranberries, and a sprinkling of heart-healthy walnuts tossed in a light dressing. Feel free to add some slivered red onion or some baked croutons for a bit of crunch.

2. Pumpkin Biscuits

Reduced Fat Pumpkin Biscuits
Fiona Haynes
If you need a change from dinner rolls or regular buttermilk biscuits, why not whip up a batch of pumpkin biscuits? Homemade biscuits are quick and easy to make, and can be made ahead of time.

3. Roast Turkey Breast

Roast Turkey Breast
Fiona Haynes
If, like my family, you have a small gathering at Thanksgiving, then roasting a turkey breast rather than a whole bird is probably a good idea. Not only will it cook more quickly, you don't have to worry about the breast drying out while you wait for the legs to cook, which is a common problem when cooking a whole turkey. Plus, you won't be looking for four or five days' worth of recipes to use up all the extra meat. Don't forget to save the juices to make some lower-fat gravy -- no butter required!

4. Green Bean Casserole

Healthy Green Bean Casserole
Fiona Haynes
As I have said before, this is not your grandmother's green bean casserole. Personally I could never understand the lure of this rather salty, fat-laden side dish, but with some key tweaks, it can be transformed into something fresh and delicious.

5. Cranberry Apple Stuffing Muffins

Cranberry Apple Stuffing Muffins
Fiona Haynes
Stuffing can be a huge source of fat and calories, especially if you help yourself to, or are given, a generous spoonful. The advantage of this cranberry apple stuffing is that it comes in perfectly sized portions, enough for 12 people. Not so fond of a fruity stuffing? Try a more traditional bread stuffing or a cornbread stuffing instead.

6. Cider-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts
Rob Melnychuk/Getty Images
People are sharply divided over brussels sprouts. They either love them or hate them. I tend to think that people who loathe them were once (or on multiple occasions) forced to eat over-cooked, mushy gray brussels sprouts, which I are indeed completely unappetizing. The key to delicious brussels sprouts, of course, is not to overcook them.

7. Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Fiona Haynes
I find sweet potato casserole a little too sweet for my liking, so I tend to offer mashed sweet potatoes. If guests wish to add some mini marshmallows, that's just fine, but i think I'll pass!

8. Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Fiona Haynes
Enjoy creamy mashed potatoes without the butter and cream! Nonfat milk and fat-free sour cream give these mashed potatoes a creamy consistency. You can also use nonfat or low-fat buttermilk instead to add a nice tang. Plus, if you use a buttery potato to begin with, such as Yukon Golds, then you can feel like you're indulging even though you're not.

9. Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Fiona Haynes
If there's too much mashed this and pureed that at your Thanksgiving table, offer some roasted vegetables for a change in texture. Roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness, as with this delicious pairing of carrots and parsnips.

10. Cranberry Pear Sauce

Make a fresh-tasting cranberry-pear sauce to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey. It's not overly sweet, and the aroma of ginger and cinnamon while it cooks will make your kitchen smell heavenly. Make a day or so ahead and refrigerate.

11. Lower Fat Pumpkin Pie

Lower Fat Pumpkin Pie
Fiona Haynes
If you simply cannot live without pumpkin pie, try this lower fat version, but enjoy a modest-sized portion of it, and enjoy it a few hours after your main meal, giving your body time to digest all the main meal. While it's undoubtedly easier to opt for a prebaked crust, you will save some fat and calories by baking your own.

12. Maple Pecan Tarts

Maple Pecan Tarts
Fiona Haynes
In terms of fat and calories, and overall nutrition, a slice of pumpkin pie is a little better for you than pecan pie. But if you have a hankering for pecan pie, then these maple pecan tarts might just be the answer. Perfectly portioned, these little tarts allow you have your pie and eat it!

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