Thanksgiving Dinner

Feasting is at the very core of Thanksgiving. Of all the holiday celebrations that follow in the next six weeks, Thanksgiving Day is by far the most anticipated time for family gatherings and favorite foods. Adhering to a low-calorie, low-fat diet can be especially tricky at this time of year. To help keep you in a festive mood and help you stay on track, here are recipes for a full holiday spread; the only thing missing are those excess calories and surplus fat.

For starters, why not begin your holiday feast with a warming and welcoming bowl of velvety low-fat cream of pumpkin soup. It’s a wonderful appetizer for your Thanksgiving dinner. To make it picture perfect, swirl in a spoonful of plain low fat yogurt just before serving.

Low-fat Cream of Pumpkin Soup


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated fat-free milk
  • Freshly ground Black pepper to taste


Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened. Stir in curry powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and pumpkin. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add evaporated fat-free milk and cook for 2 minutes.
Transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Serves 6.

Per Serving: Calories 112, Calories from Fat 25, Total Fat 2.7g (sat 0.5g), Cholesterol 2mg, Sodium 101mg, Carbohydrate 15.6g, Fiber 2.9g, Protein 6.1g

Main Attraction: The Thanksgiving Turkey

You can relax; the star of your Thanksgiving table is a featherweight when it comes to fat. In particular, the white meat from your bird has one of the lowest fat contents of all meats, that is, if you remove the skin before eating. The dark meat, while a bit fattier, can be eaten in small amounts. So enjoy! This year, cook up a savory and juicy turkey using just a bit of olive oil, lemon and plenty of fresh herbs.


  • 1 12-14-pound turkey, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large sprigs rosemary
  • 6 large sprigs sage
  • 6 large sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove giblets and neck from inside the turkey and reserve to make stock if you wish. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Then, instead of stuffing, place your onion, half a lemon and 4 sprigs of each herb inside the bird’s cavity and secure legs with kitchen string. Place turkey breast side up on roasting rack in pan. Squeeze the juice from one lemon half into a small bowl. Brush bird with lemon juice and olive oil, and add salt and pepper.

Place the turkey in a 425 degree oven and roast for 15 minutes to seal in natural moisture. Then, reduce heat to 325 degrees. Baste turkey frequently with pan juices plus lemon and oil, and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees – about 3 to 3 3/4 hours for this unstuffed bird.

Remove turkey from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Transfer to a warm platter and garnish with remaining herbs. Serves 12.

Low Fat Bread Stuffing

You didn’t think we’d leave out the stuffing did you? What’s turkey without stuffing, especially if you can prepare a lovely low-fat bread stuffing that’s sure to please everyone.


  • 4 ounces chicken or turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound day-old artisan bread cubes
  • 1 14 1/2–ounce can fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, or 2 egg whites


Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Cook sausage meat until browned, breaking it into chunks with a spatula. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1 tsp canola oil to skillet. Add onion, celery and mushrooms, and sauté until tender.

In a large bowl, combine bread cubes with cooked sausage, vegetable mixture, herbs and pepper. Whisk together broth and egg, and pour over stuffing mixture. Toss well to coat.
Spoon stuffing into 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until browned. Makes 12 servings

Per Serving: Calories 134, Calories from Fat 24, Total Fat 2.7g (sat 0.6g), Cholesterol 23mg, Sodium 341mg, Carbohydrate 21.8g, Fiber 1.6g, Protein 6.5g

Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce

Tired of plain old cranberry sauce? Ready to spice things up? This recipe is sure to add a little zing to your Thanksgiving table.


  • 1 pound fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • juice and zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup light red wine (pinot noir is a good choice)


Combine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove cinnamon, cloves and zest.

Pour sauce into a bowl and chill. Serves 10.

Sautéed Green Beans

This recipe provides a heart-healthy side dish for your Thanksgiving table that can replace a fat and sodium laden green bean casserole. Simply sauté your beans in a spot of olive oil along with some shallots for a low-fat alternative.


  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallots
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Simmer green beans in a large saucepan for 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove from heat, drain, then plunge beans into ice-cold water to stop the cooking process and retain color. Heat skillet with oil.

Add garlic and gently sauté for one minute. Add blanched green beans and sauté for three minutes. Stir in lemon zest and serve. Serves 6-8

Per Serving: Calories 63, Calories from Fat 21, Total Fat 2.4g (sat 0.3g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 7mg, Carbohydrate 8.3g, Fiber 3.9g, Protein 2.1g

Pumpkin Cheesecake

You didn’t think we’d skip dessert did you? If you love cheesecake, then you’ll love this reduced-fat pumpkin cheesecake. This flavorful dessert uses light cream cheese, fat free cream cheese and egg substitute. It’s the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving feast.


  • 1/2 cup Ginger wafer cookie crumbs (about 10-12 wafers)
  • 1 8-ounce block of fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1 8-ounce block of reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of a 7-inch removable-bottomed tart pan with butter-flavored cooking spray. Sprinkle cookie crumbs on bottom of pan. Spray briefly with cooking spray and press crumbs down.

Cook base for 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

Place cream cheeses, pumpkin, spices, vanilla and sugar in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer beat on medium until throughly blended. Add egg substitute and beat on low until blended.
Pour pumpkin cream cheese mixture on to ginger cookie crumb base. If you have a little left over, pour it into a ramekin to cook alongside the cheesecake.

Bake cheesecake for 40 minutes until just set. Serves 6-8.

Per Serving: Calories 212, Calories from Fat 81, Total Fat 9g (sat fat 4.6g), Cholesterol 24mg, Sodium 317mg, Carbohydrate 23.1g, Fiber 1.3g, Protein 1.3g

Go ahead, enjoy your guilt-free Thanksgiving feast, but remember that the time you spend with friends, family and loved ones is the most important part of the holiday season.

NOTE: Our complete Thanksgiving feast consists of recipes by Fiona Haynes, a stay-at-home mom who loves low-fat cooking. These and other low-fat recipes can be found at