Low-Calorie Thanksgiving Recipe Alternatives

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Mash potatoes, stuffing, yams, ham, turkey, and don’t forget the apple, pumpkin, olallieberry, and pecan pie! Just the mere reading of these foods make us salivate. We stuff ourselves until we hate ourselves, we pile our plate up with food, appetizers, drinks and desserts. This is the time of the year where our healthy food habits go right out the window! Not only are we overeating, but we are overeating high-calorie food.

To ease the guilt this year, here are a few lower-calorie Thanksgiving recipes you can create so you don’t gain that those holiday pounds.

Salads and Starters

California Spinach Salad
For a delicious and nutrient defense salad, try this spinach salad.

Ingredients:
8 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 avocados
3 handfuls of alfalfa sprouts
2 bell peppers
For the dressing:
1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 medium lime, juiced
1/4 cup chopped chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce (about 1/3 of a medium pepper)
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pepper, to taste
What to do:
Pile on the desired amount of spinach leaves in a salad bowl or plate.
Slice up the avocado and the bell pepper, and add to salad.
Sprinkle a handful of alfalfa sprouts on top.
Make dressing. There are two ways to do this: If you have a small food processor or blender, throw all of the ingredients in it and pulse until well-combined. If doing things by hand, chop all ingredients very finely and stir until well-combined.
Drizzle over the salad and toss to combine.

SIDES

“Vegan” Creamed Corn
For those who may be lactose intolerant or the vegans in your family, this is the perfect spin on a classic Thanksgiving favorite.

7 Ingredients
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 can (15 ounces) coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped scallions

Directions
Combine corn and coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until coconut milk has evaporated a bit and thickened, about 15 minutes.
Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, mix in parsley, red pepper flakes, and scallions.
MAINS
Quinoa and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Mushrooms
Try adding a new dish to this year’s Thanksgiving feast that both vegetarians and meat eaters will love!

Ingredients
4 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt
Pepper
3 cups greens (spinach or kale work well)
2 cups cooked quinoa
6 portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean

Directions
Heat oven to 450 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Toss sweet potatoes with oil and salt and pepper to taste on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping halfway through, until pieces are golden brown and cooked through.
Just before the sweet potatoes are done cooking, remove sheet from oven and add spinach on top. Place back in oven for the last 2 to 3 minutes. Once spinach has wilted, remove pan from oven and cool until veggies are cool enough to handle. Lower oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix quinoa, sweet potatoes, and greens. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Brush both sides of mushrooms with olive oil, and place gills up on the baking sheet. Spoon quinoa and sweet potato mixture into caps, mounding slightly in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked through.

Dessert

Quinoa Apple Cake

Made with whole quinoa, this hearty cake is both naturally sweet and filling.

1 cup quinoa
8 tablespoons salted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup raisins
2 apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon ginger (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine quinoa with 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Drain well and set aside.
Dip a pastry brush in melted butter and use it to grease inside of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
Put remaining melted butter in a large bowl, and mix with brown sugar and raisins until evenly distributed. Add apples and cooked quinoa, and stir to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger and nutmeg, if using. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to evenly combine.
Scrape mixture into prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top of cake is golden brown.
Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely before cutting to help cake maintain its shape.

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