Despite its historical trappings, Thanksgiving, for most of us, is a holiday about food and family (and, often, the watching of televised sports). While it’s also a day for home cooks to show their stuff, the expectations of the people doing the eating are what shapes the menu, which may be why that menu doesn’t change much year after year. So how do you keep your family’s tradition going when you’re also trying to stay healthy? We’ve tinkered with some of the stalwarts of the Thanksgiving table, stripping out fat and carbs while keeping the customary flavors very much intact. Think of it as a much-needed makeover.
You’ll notice that these potatoes use no heavy cream—and, in fact, no dairy at all. Instead, their smoothness is the result of olive oil and some of the potatoes’ cooking liquid. Another update: Parmesan cheese. Since Parmesan is quite intense, only a little bit is needed to produce a lot of flavor, compared with a milder cheese.
First up: We cut way down on the butter, which you probably won’t even miss. That means a lot less unhealthy fat. And instead of the usual brown sugar, crushed pineapple adds plenty of sweetness, meaning we could skip the goopy melted marshmallows, too.
The star here is the whole wheat bread, far heartier than the usual white, and full of good fiber. Instead of being loaded with butter, this stuffing is held together by the addition of very hot broth, which the bread cubes soak up. Meanwhile, dried cranberries or cherries add color and zing.
The secret is in the crust! Using graham-cracker crumbs instead of a traditional wheat flour means you need only add a teaspoon of canola oil rather than the typical heavy serving of butter or shortening. That saves you a lot of unwanted saturated fat. (The graham-cracker crust is a lot easier to make, too.) The filling for this pie is fairly traditional, save for the sugar substitute, which helps to cut its carbohydrate content.