Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner Tips and Preparation


Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

This is an awesome time of years as Thanksgiving approaches.

Thanksgiving is a celebration on the 4th of November but the planning, shopping and cooking begins well before that day for sure! When you think about it, the main focus of the day is what?... FOOD! (And plenty of it!)

Being that the meaning of Thanksgiving is a “celebration of harvest” it is only natural that the day revolves around food, but the typical American consumes between 3000-3800 calories in that ONE MEAL!

Think about this, 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat.

Most people are still going to consume food during the day other than that one meal including breakfast, snack type food and even maybe repeat the meal in some form later in the evening (perhaps that might be a famous turkey sandwich with some sides). This can result in an average 5-7 pound weight gain over the next 8 weeks! Yikes!

This can result in an average 5-7 pound weight gain over the next 8 weeks! Yikes!

Have you ever said to yourself......

“Well, it's the Holidays!! I am going to simply enjoy the day with great food and I will definitely get back on track after the Holiday!”.

This can be a dangerous way of thinking because what can happen after the “day of indulgence”?  You step on the dreaded scale and see the WEIGHT GAIN!thanksgiving-weight-gain

This can throw you into a self-defeating mode and then the over consuming can continue.

One of my clients and I are coming up with a different plan this year. She has lost 60 pounds with me so far and we have another 42 to go to get her to her goal weight.

This can be a stressful time of the year for anyone who has worked so hard on weight loss and lifestyle changes because it is daunting to think about the many temptations at Thanksgiving! I discussed with my client that the key to her success over Thanksgiving is PLANNING!

We talked about her overall Thanksgiving plans and broke it down to make it less overwhelming! She told me that her family was coming into town on Wednesday and would be staying with her at her house. Realistically that means that the night they fly in, more than likely everyone will want dinner that night. I suggested something simple should

I suggested something simple that could be prepared in advance. We came up with my delicious chili that can be made in the crock pot! This can reduce the stress of cooking as there will be plenty of that on the day of Thanksgiving!



  • 1 pound lean ground meat
  • 4 cans ranch-style beans
  • 1 package frozen seasoning blend (chopped onion, celery and bell peppers)
  • 4 cups reduced sodium beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (my secret)


Brown the meat, seasonings, and vegetables in a large skillet. Combine the beans , broth and meat mixture in a crock pot and put on low for 6 hours. Stir occasionally.

I serve this with about a Tbsp of reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of light sour cream. YUM!

This recipe makes the house smell great as it cooks and is really easy to serve to a crowd!

My client and I then talked about preparing for Thanksgiving Day. Delegating the food prep is really important and takes away some of the work as well as the temptation of making all the food yourself! My client has 4 people coming to stay so the first thing we did was plan the menu.

She wanted traditional roasted turkey for sure. It’s low in calories (35 calories per ounce for white meat and 50 calories per ounce for dark meat). She also insisted on mashed potatoes which I told her she can substitute the cream she used to use with chicken broth and the butter for “I can’t believe it’s not butter”. This will give the potatoes the same creamy texture without all the added calories.

Her family is also used to the higher fat traditional green bean casserole topped with the famous fried onions, but we decided she could go a different route with steamed veggies instead. One of my favorite recipes is steamed fresh asparagus with shaved parmesan! This simple recipe not only cuts down on the calories but saves room in the oven on Thanksgiving Day!

Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

I take 3 pounds of fresh asparagus and “snap off” the ends and layer “criss crossed” in a casserole dish. Put about two inches of water on the bottom and drizzle with ¼ cup of butter spray. Sprinkle with garlic salt and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 8 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and microwave for another 2 minutes.

This will keep the beautiful green color and light crispness to the asparagus. (You could do the same recipe with fresh green beans or sugar snap peas!) Remove from microwave and drain any remaining water and place on a platter to serve. Sprinkle with fresh shaved parmesan and fresh ground pepper. Delicious!

pumpkinpieWe then talked about the stuffing. In their family, the traditional stuffing is made with homemade cornbread. I suggested that we come up with a healthier version for them to try this year to cut some of the calories! Over the next two weeks, I will be posting recipes!

I explained to my client that the desserts are another “kick to the waistline” and can add a tremendous amount to the overall daily intake. YIKES!

There are many ideas I have about how to cut those calories and replace the traditional desserts (such as pumpkin and pecan pie).

I will be posting a great recipe next week of a crustless pumpkin pie that is sooo good! There Are also some great ideas that include using winter fruits that are in season such as apples and pears!

The most important part of getting through the Holidays is to PLAN AHEAD! It is important to follow these three steps:

Think of Thanksgiving as a 3-day event. This means looking at where you will be. At home, with company? At friends or families house? Then plan then plan your healthier meals for the day before, the day of Thanksgiving and the day after.

Make sure you have the foods needed to carry out your plan. Shop accordingly.

Make a physical activity plan for those three days!

If you follow those steps, you can have Thanksgiving and STILL meet your weight loss goals!


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