Dietitian’s Corner – Simple Low Cal Thanksgiving Foods

Thanksgiving Table Setting


Don’t let the calories and abundance of food at Thanksgiving lead to extra pounds. A little bit of each dish can provide you with the full taste sensation of this wonderful meal, while not leaving you with the overloaded feeling afterwards.

Choose fresh, simply prepared foods as opposed to processed foods. Making your own sides can really reduce calories – it’s easy! Here are some quick pointers and ideas you can try this Thanksgiving:

  • Simple Stuffing – diced onion & celery, low fat butter, salt, pepper, sage, whole wheat bread dried and cubed– if you like, add some chopped apple!
  • Lighter potatoes – rice your potatoes with a ricer instead of mashing, omitting butter and milk/cream;
  • Prep your veggies – cut corn kernels fresh off the cob, scraping the cob to get all the corn ‘milk’ as liquid to cook in, slice carrots and cook in a splash of your favourite liquor, serve green beans with crispy shallots or parmesan-garlic breadcrumbs;
  • Make your own Cranberry Sauce with frozen berries for less sugar and preservatives than store-bought canned, add a splash of OJ for a real flavour boost!
  • Sweet Potatoes are sweet enough on their own – just slice or cube and roast! If you wish, add chopped pecans to the roasting pan for the last 5 minutes and toss all together to serve;
  • Squash – just slice and bake to release natural sweetness;
  • Gravy can be reduced in fat by making your own, using a few tablespoons of the turkey drippings with the same amount of flour to make a “roux”, then blend with reduced-fat broth (or better yet, your own homemade broth to control the fat and salt!)
  • Light desserts can include poached pears, or apple/pear/cranberry crisp such as this recipe:
  • Or miniaturize your desserts – for just a taste! A mini-pumpkin tart instead of a whole slice of pie; a mini-ginger or carrot cupcake with a dusting of icing sugar; maybe a delicious Blooming Apple – slice the top off apples, use a melon baller to core, cut into rings, make vertical cuts in the sides of rings (not through), place in a baking dish and top with a dab of butter, and a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake 30 minutes, during dinner so dessert is done when you are!


Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!