• Ivan Flores

Healthy Thanksgiving, Healthy Alternatives

The holiday season is here which means one thing; great food! With great food comes a great amount of calorie intake. According to the Calorie Control Council, people typically consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving. It’s totally possible to enjoy many great foods during the holiday without gaining weight in a single day. Serena Wolf, author of the lifestyle guide titled “The Dude Diet,” shares some meal recipes for people to be able to enjoy their favorite foods without the guilt.

If you would like to fight the battle of the bulge but would like to keep the traditional feel of a Thanksgiving meal with your loved ones, see the following recipes below (Courtesy of CBS New York):

Lemon-Herb Roasted Turkey Breast (Serves 4)


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • zest of 1 small lemon

  • 1 boneless turkey breast (approximately 2½ pounds) with skin on

  • ½ cup chicken broth


  1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, thyme, rosemary, pepper, garlic powder, and lemon zest.

  2. Gently loosen the skin on the turkey breast with your fingers. Rub the breast all over with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, including underneath the skin. Rub 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture underneath the skin, then rub the remaining mixture all over the breast.

  3. Arrange the turkey breast neatly with your hands, tucking the edges under. You’re aiming for your “roast” to be as cylindrical as possible. Tie the breasts with a few loops of kitchen string, making sure to tie it once lengthwise to help keep it’s compact shape.

  4. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.

  5. Time to sear the turkey breast. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the turkey breast skin-side down. Sear, turning the turkey breast back and forth periodically to make sure the skin sears evenly, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Then turn the turkey skin-side up and sear the bottom and sides of the breast until lightly brown, about 3 minutes.

  6. Place the turkey skin-side up in a small shallow roasting pan or baking dish. Pour the chicken broth into the base of the pan.

  7. Roast the turkey for 1 to 1½ hours (depending on the size of your breast) until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160 and the juices run mostly clear with a little pink, basting at the 35, 55, and 1 hour 15 minute marks (if your turkey is still roasting at that point). This should take between 1 to 1½ hours depending on the exact size of your breast, though Wolf recommends checking the temperature after 55 minutes to benchmark your progress. (The internal temperature of the breast will continue to rise after you remove it from the oven, so be very careful not to overcook it!)

  8. Transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board. Tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Remove the strings from the turkey breast and slice crosswise into ¼-inch slices.

Cauliflower Puree with Parmesan and Chives (Serves 4-6)


  • 2 small heads cauliflower, cored and cut into florets (about 7 cups florets)

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

  • Fresh ground pepper


  1. Place cauliflower florets and chicken stock in a medium saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Please keep an eye on it, everyone, you want it to be tender but not mushy.

  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor. (No slotted spoon? No problem. Simply drain the cauliflower in colander.) Puree until the cauliflower is very smooth.

  3. Transfer the purée to a bowl (or a saucepan if you’re not serving it immediately). Stir in the Parmesan, salt, and chives, and season with fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts and Cranberries (Serves 6-8 as a side)


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups cubed squash)

  • 2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  • 1½ cups pearled or semi-pearled farro

  • Juice of 1½ lemons

  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced

  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

  2. Place the butternut squash cubes in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Add a healthy pinch of kosher salt and a small pinch of cayenne pepper and toss to combine, making sure each cube is coated. Transfer the squash to the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little bit of space between each cube.

  3. Roast the squash for 35-40 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time, until the squash is tender and lightly browned. Set aside and let cool slightly.

  4. While the squash is roasting, cook the farro according to the package directions.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Add the cooked farro to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Add the roasted butternut squash, walnuts, Craisins and scallions and gently fold all the ingredients together. Taste and season with freshly ground pepper and a little extra salt (if needed).

  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Autumn Kale Salad with Roasted Cauliflower and Apple (Serves 3 as a light meal, 6 as a side)


  • ½ head cauliflower, florets removed

  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • Kosher salt

  • White pepper

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, center ribs removed and finely chopped

  • ¼ medium red onion, very thinly sliced

  • 1 apple, thinly sliced

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • ¼ cup raw pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds)

  • ¼ cup golden raisins

  • 1/3 cup shaved ricotta salata

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1½ teaspoons pure maple syrup

  • Kosher salt


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Arrange the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning the florets halfway through the cooking time, until tender and lightly browned. Let cool to room temperature.

  2. Place the kale in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with the remaining teaspoon olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Time to give the kale a little massage. Just rub the leaves between your fingers, literally massaging the oil and salt into the leaves, until the kale darkens and becomes tender. (This will take 1-2 minutes.) Briefly set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Add the red onions in the bowl with the dressing and let them soak for 10 minutes.

  4. Place the apples in a separate bowl with the lemon juice. Toss to coat. (This will keep your apples from turning sad and brown.)

  5. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the pepitas and toast for 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until they’re lightly brown. (You may even hear some of them make a popping noise.) Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

  6. Assemble the salad. Add the roasted cauliflower, apples, toasted pepitas, raisins, and half of the ricotta to the bowl with the massaged kale. Add the dressing and red onions and gently toss to combine.

  7. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter and serve topped with the remaining cheese.

(If you prefer a more heavily dressed salad, double the amount of dressing, and set half aside for drizzling over the salad just before serving.)

Now, you decide to simply enjoy the food your relatives or loved ones make for Thanksgiving, take note of these tips you can stay snatched and fit during the holidays:

  • Go in with a plan.

- Decide before what you will and will not have.

- If your goal is to maintain your current body weight, have one plate with the majority of the plate as non-starchy vegetables.

- If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to commit to your current diet plan and be very mindful of limiting your intake outside of your nutrition prescription.

- Focus on the fun instead of just the meal. The purpose of Thanksgiving is about spending time with your loved ones, not just the food.

  • Use a small salad plate for hors-d'oeuvres. Limit yourself to one salad plate of hors-d'oeuvres.

  • Go easy on the alcohol. Treat yourself to a drink, but it’s important to be mindful that what you’re drinking has calories too..

  • For dessert, use salad-size plate serving. Limit yourself to one serving. If you are trying to lose weight, have half or less of the dessert.

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