Low-Calorie Twists on Classic Thanksgiving Dishes

There’s nothing like a holiday that’s all about eating to remind you that you’re on a diet. Instead of settling for two bites of every dish and walking away from the table hungry, prepare a low-calorie version of a classic Thanksgiving meal with some simple swaps that give you plenty of taste without all that extra fat.

Mashed Potatoes

A creamy pile of mashed potatoes is truly the glue that holds many a holiday celebration together, but it’s also a fast way to wreck any diet. Just grab some fresh cauliflower. You can boil and mash cauliflower, and this dish is way lower in calories that mashed potatoes. But if you’ve just got to have potatoes to make the meal, bake some sweet potatoes. They have a lot fewer calories than white potatoes, and everyone can choose how much butter, sour cream and other fixings they want to apply to their individual potatoes.

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole has become a modern holiday classic. The problem is, green bean casserole is often made with crunchy fried onions and heavy cream sauce. Sure it’s delicious, but it’s also a ton of calories you don’t really need.

Cook roasted Brussels sprouts instead. Roast your sprouts with just a little bit of margarine, add salt and pepper, and you’ve got a tasty vegetable to add to the Thanksgiving table.

The Turkey

Instead of a roasted turkey basted with butter, cook a low-calorie turkey breast. This won’t take as long to cook and won’t dry out as much, so you don’t have to slather it with butter. Instead, baste your breast with broth that has way less fat than butter and still packs in a bunch of taste.


If turkey is the main attraction, stuffing is clearly the co-star of the Thanksgiving meal. It’s also a massive amount of calories. As an alternative, make a risotto. This dish is still filling and full of flavor, but it’s got way fewer calories than stuffing. Add mushrooms and aromatics to add even more flavor. And since you can’t put your stuffing in a Thanksgiving bird, how about “stuffing” a hollowed-out pumpkin? This looks adorable on the table!


It’s practically a law in some parts of the U.S. that you can’t conduct Thanksgiving without gravy. And truth be told, sometimes turkey does tend to get dry. But gravy is packed with calories, and just a little bit of it will go a long way toward destroying your diet.

Put a small bowl of yogurt on the table instead of gravy. Get plain yogurt to add your own savory flavors, such as dill or rosemary, and this can be put on all sorts of delicious Thanksgiving dishes.

Pumpkin Pie

No pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? It’s likely that wars have been started for less, this item is such a staple of the holiday. But you can get something just as good without the high-calorie pie. Serve a pretty pumpkin parfait in martini glasses. Whip pumpkin puree and layer it with whipped cream, which is already low in calories, and you’ve got a very pretty, pumpkin-y dessert without all those pie crust carbs.

A Low-Calorie Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is so filled with food, it seems a lot easier to break your diet than stick to it. But there’s no rule that you have to ingest a ton of calories to enjoy the holiday. Try some low-calorie meal swaps, and try eating healthier this Thanksgiving. You may just love the way a low-cal Thanksgiving tastes.

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