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Healthy Home Cooking
Home Cooking: Traditional Thanksgiving Treat

Hi! Thanks for joining us in the kitchen again, where we are giving you food for thought, as well as food recipes that are easy, healthy and tasty!   Enjoy!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, with all of the excitement of gathering our families around a grand spread of food. The family part is easy, but the thought of all that food going to our waistlines can be hard. 

First let’s look at food choices and how they fit into our grand meal.  First, the root: sweet potato. If you only think about them covered in gooey marshmallows and next to your turkey, you are not enjoying this vegetable near enough!  Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene—by eating just one medium sweet potato you can meet your daily requirement of vitamin A.   Sweet potatoes are best prepared by either baking or roasting. 

Sweet potato is not related to the common white potato, but you might want both at your Thanksgiving meal. What we think of as white potato actually comes in about 100 different varieties.  Most common at the supermarket are Russet, White, Red, and Yellow-fleshed (Yukon Gold).  They are high in potassium (nearly twice as much as a banana), have no fat, and very little sodium.  Here’s how to make the best mashed potatoes.  For a 6 serving batch, quarter 6 medium potatoes and boil until they are tender in just enough water to cover them.  Drain the
potatoes, but do not throw the water away.  Return the potatoes to the saucepan, whip them gently with an electric mixer, then add about 1/2 cup of the reserved potato water, 1/3 cup non-fat dry milk powder, and 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream.  Continue whipping with the mixer until smooth. 

Of course you’ll need gravy for those mashed potatoes.  Yes, you can make good, low-fat gravy from scratch.  First, pour turkey drippings into a saucepan and set the pan in your freezer for at least 15 to 20 minutes so that the fat can congeal on the top and be skimmed off. With a large spoon, skim the hardened fat off and discard. The remaining liquid is the low-fat gravy stock. Now, pour one cup of either potato water or regular water into a large jar.  Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, screw the lid on, and shake until the mixture is well blended. This easy step assures that you won’t get lumps in your gravy! 

Pour that mixture into the low-fat gravy stock along with your favorite seasonings to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until mixture thickens and starts to boil.  This will yield 2 cups of a nice smooth low-fat gravy.

Turkey, the star of any Thanksgiving meal, is second only to seafood when it comes to lean animal protein sources.  A skinless turkey breast contains very little fat and virtually none of the heart-clogging saturated fat found in most animal products, is low-sodium, and is a rich source of niacin, which is necessary to help convert protein, fat and carbohydrates from the foods you eat into a form of energy that is stored in your muscles and liver. Turkey is also a good source of zinc, which helps to maintain metabolism and blood sugar levels.  But, remember we are talking about skinless turkey breast. If you don’t want to roast a whole turkey, you have other options, such as turkey tenderloins, cutlets, and medallions, all from the breast.

Now it’s off to the kitchen to start preparing for that grand spread! And when you’re done, these recipes are great to use with leftovers. You can enjoy these foods in the holiday season and all year long.  Remember, you can reap the benefits of the Thanksgiving feast anytime during the year by cooking these nutritious foods.


3/4 cup Bisquick Heart Smart Baking Mix
3/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1 cup (5 ounces) diced cooked turkey breast
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup Oscar Mayer or Hormel Real Bacon Bits
3/4 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (2 1/4 ounces) shredded
reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine baking mix, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, and milk.  Stir in turkey and parsley flakes.  Spread mixture evenly into prepared baking dish.  Bake for 10 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup mayonnaise and bacon bits.  Spread mixture evenly over partially baked crust.  Evenly sprinkle tomato and green onion over mayonnaise mixture.  Sprinkle Cheddar cheese evenly over top.  Continue baking for 8 to 10 minutes.  Place baking dish on a wire rack and let set for 5 minutes.  Cut into 6 servings.

Serves 6 – Each serving equals:         
173 Calories, 5g Fat, 15g Protein, 17g Carbs, 601mg Sodium, 116mg Calcium, 1g Fiber
Diabetic Exchanges:  1 Starch, 1/2 Fat Free Milk, 1/2 Protein
Carb Choices:  1


3 cups (16 ounces) diced cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 cup finely sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped pecans
4 ounces fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup unsweetened orange juice
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, celery, and pecans.  In a small bowl, stir cream cheese with a sturdy spoon until soft.  Stir in orange juice a little at a time to mix with cream cheese.  Add parsley flakes.  Mix well to combine.  Add cream cheese mixture to sweet potato mixture.  Mix gently to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Gently stir again just before serving.

Serves 4 (3/4 cup) – Each serving equals:
181 Calories, 5g Fat, 6g Protein, 28g Carbs, 244mg Sodium, 49mg Calcium, 4g Fiber
Diabetic Exchanges:  1 1/2 Starch                                        Carb Choices:  2

We hope you enjoyed our time together in the kitchen.  Remember, if you’d like us to revise one of your family favorites so it’s healthier, send your request to: Healthy Exchanges PO Box 80, DeWitt, IA 52742.  Also, be sure to visit our Web site at for more information on how you too can receive the only national food newsletter for diabetics, heart/cholesterol concerns, and healthy weight loss.  Until next time . . .