Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

You don't need to overeat on turkey day. You can prepare a tasty, healthy meal without the copious calories and fat. Devin Alexander, healthy chef and best-selling cookbook author of The Biggest Loser Cookbook: More Than 80 Healthy Treats That Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Without Breaking Your Calorie Budget and The Most Decadent Diet Ever! , reveals how you can turn your Thanksgiving family favorites into slim trimmings!

See Devin's simple swaps for sausage cranberry stuffing, decadent and delicious sweet potato casserole and macaroni and cheese.

"I focus on the flavors," Devin says. "A lot of people make the mistake — they take their family's favorite recipe and they'll substitute turkey for beef and do nothing else. And of course, you need to compensate for the flavor, you need to compensate for the moisture. I do all of that in these dishes, and that's why you really can't tell the difference."

Pumped-Up Pumpkin Pie Bites

These are like mini-pumpkin pies, but they have no artificial ingredients, and they're sweetened with agave nectar and maple syrup. Two bites have 94 calories and a trace amount of fat, compared to a slice of traditional pumpkin pie which has 450 calories.

Devin's Note: When making the crust for this recipe, it might, at first, look like the crumbs won't cover the bottom of the pan, but trust me, they will! The easiest way to distribute them evenly is to use a small piece of parchment paper, and gently press the cereal mixture until you get a nice even layer.

Butter-flavored cooking spray

3/4 cup all-natural, whole-grain, crunchy, high-fiber, low-sugar cereal (Devin uses Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets)
2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 large egg whites
15 ounce can (1 3/4 cups) solid pumpkin puree
3/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
32 teaspoons "Cut the Crap" whipped topping (see recipe below).

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spray an 11"x7" glass or ceramic baking dish with spray.

Add the cereal to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Process for 15 to 20 seconds, or until the cereal is crushed.

Transfer crumbs to a small mixing bowl and add the maple syrup and cinnamon.

Mix until well combined. (The mixture should be slightly sticky.)

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Using a small piece of parchment paper, gently press down on the cereal mixture, spreading it evenly across the bottom of the baking dish.

Bake the crust for 7 to 9 minutes, or until it is slightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, add the egg whites to a large mixing bowl. Using a sturdy whisk, lightly beat them until they bubble very slightly.

Still using the whisk, stir in the pumpkin, agave and flour until well combined.

Stir in the vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt and continue mixing until well combined.

Pour the filling over the baked crust. Using a rubber spatula, spread it into an even layer.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry (a few crumbs are OK).

Transfer the dish to a wire cooking rack, allowing it to cool to room temperature.

Carefully cut 32 pumpkin "bites" (three cuts along the width of the pan, seven cuts along the length, creating 4"x8" bites). 

Just before serving, top each bite with 1 teaspoon whipped topping, if desired.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Makes 32 bites.  Each two-bite serving has: 94 calories, 3 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates (15 g sugar), trace fat, trace saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber and 102 mg sodium.

"Cut the Crap" Whipped Topping

3/4 cup light agave nectar

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Add water to a medium saucepan until it is about ¼ full. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Off the heat, combine the agave, egg whites and cream of tartar in a large metal or heavy duty glass mixing bowl (that will fit onto the top of your saucepan).

Beat on medium-high with an electric mixer fitted with beaters until well blended.

Place the bowl over the pot of boiling water. (For safety, be sure to wear an oven mitt while holding the bowl over the heat, as it will get very hot).

Beat for about 7 minutes, occasionally running the beaters around the sides of the bowl to scrape any of the mixture, until stiff peaks form.

Remove the bowl from the water and continue beating for 5 to 7 minutes more, rotating the bowl and scraping down the sides with the beaters, or until the mixture is thick, very fluffy, and has very stiff peaks.

Good-Enough-for-Thanksgiving Sausage-Cranberry Stuffing

Butter-flavored cooking spray
12 slices whole-wheat bread (about 70 calories per slice)
Olive oil spray
Sweet and Slim Italian Sausage (see recipe below) -- cooked and unshaped.
1 1/2 cups finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups fat-free lower-sodium (not low-sodium) chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons light butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly mist a 2 1/2- to 3-quart ovenproof ceramic or glass casserole dish with butter-flavored cooking spray.

Place the slices of bread side by side in a single layer (they should not overlap) on a large nonstick baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes per side, until the slices are dry (not at all soft in the center), but not more than very lightly browned.

Meanwhile, place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, lightly mist it with olive oil spray and put in the sausage mixture. Cook, breaking the sausage into bite-sized chunks, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl.

Turn the heat to medium, re-spray the pan and put in the onions. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the celery and garlic. Continue cooking until the celery is bright green and starts to soften slightly, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the celery mixture to the sausage.

Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.

When the bread is cooled enough to touch, cut each slice into 9 squares.

Add the bread, cranberries and sage to the sausage mixture and stir until well combined.

Drizzle 1 cup broth slowly over the top and stir it in until the liquid is absorbed.

Slowly drizzle the butter over the top and stir that in.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared casserole dish. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup broth for a drier stuffing or 1/2 cup for a moister stuffing over the top.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the cover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and the stuffing is hot throughout.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.

Makes about 7 cups; 10 servings or 20 portions.

Sweet and Slim Italian Sausage

Olive oil spray
1 pound extra-lean ground pork
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon egg substitute
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400
° F. Lightly mist a small nonstick baking sheet with spray.

Mix the pork, egg substitute, bread crumbs, fennel seeds, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt and cayenne and black pepper in a medium mixing bowl.

Divide into eight portions (about 1/4 cup each). Shape each into a log about 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Place the logs side by side on prepared baking sheet. Mist them lightly with spray.

Bake for nine to 11 minutes, until no longer pink inside.

Serve immediately.