A Low(er) Calorie Thanksgiving

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Joan Lunden

Recipes /

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Thanksgiving has arrived! and so has the desire to eat...

With Thanksgiving being the most gut-busting day of the year, we are bound to overdo it, but there are ways you can still enjoy your holiday meal without feeling the guilt afterwards. The key to staying healthy during the holidays is to shave down the calories in little ways here and there. While cooking, try to use low fat butter where you can, light cream vs. heavy cream and if you have the option, choose regular-bread stuffing over cornbread.

Every year we celebrate Thanksgiving at my house, I love to cook and decorate  my home for my family. This year I want to share some Thanksgiving recipes that won't necessarily make you feel like a stuffed turkey after you eat and some tips on how to cut the calories though out the day.

We all love our mini finger foods, but they can be dangerous; 1 turns into 2, which turns into 5 and then before you know it, you have eaten to many too count. These Spinach-and-Brie-Topped Artichoke Hearts are perfect as an appetizer and act as a great replacement for your spinach and artichoke dip!

Spinach and Brie Topped ArtichokeSpinach-and-Brie-Topped Artichoke Hearts


  • 1 box (9 oz.) frozen artichoke hearts
  • 2/3 cup(s) cooked, chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 18 slices (thin) brie


  1. Preheat broiler. Prepare artichoke hearts according to package directions.
  2. Combine spinach, lemon pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Top each artichoke heart with the spinach mixture and brie. Broil until cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pear, Prosciutto and Hazelnut Stuffing Pear, Prosciutto and Hazelnut Stuffing 

When it comes time for dinner my family loves their stuffing! I recently found this healthier stuffing recipe that I'm going to add on to our menu this year.


  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced, cut into ribbons
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 2 cups diced fennel bulb
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary 
  • 8 cups stale baguette, preferably multi-grain (not sour dought) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 Bosc pears, ripe but firm, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted 
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto; cook, stirring, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel
  3. Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, fennel and shallot and cook, stirring until softened and beginning to brown, 6-8 minutes. Add sage, thyme and rosemary and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Transfer everything into a large bowl and gently stir in bread, pears, parsley, hazelnuts and the prosciutto. Add both; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the stuffing into the prepared baking dish; cover with foil. 
  4. Bake for 40 minutes; remover the foil and bake until the top is beginning to crisp, 25-30 minutes more.

 Frozen Pumpkin Moose PieFrozen Pumpkin Moose Pie

If you have successfully avoided feeling too stuffed after dinner and would like to indulge in something sweet, try this recipe! While the traditional pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving icon, this recipe shakes it up bit. It sounds delicious and I can't wait to try it!


  • 30 small gingersnap cookies, (about 7 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups frozen low-fat vanilla ice cream, softened (see Tip, below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan with cooking spray.
  2. To prepare crust: Combine gingersnaps and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add oil and pulse until blended. Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.
  3. Bake the crust until set, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  4. To prepare filling: Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix well. Add ice cream and stir until blended. Spoon the mixture into the cooled pie crust. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Let the pie soften slightly in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.  *Tip: To soften ice cream quickly, microwave on Medium-Low for 30 to 60 seconds.

*Tip: If you like to have a glass of wine with your meal, pour yourself a small glass of Pinot Noir, compared with other reds, it's richest in resveratrol (antioxidants)

With all the cooking and preparing that goes into making Thanksgiving special, we have to remember to look past the 18 pound turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie. We have to remember why everyone is gathered around the table. Thanksgiving is about appreciating all the good things in your life that you can share with your family and friends. Every year my older girls take a break from their busy lives in NYC to help me prepare for the holidays. It is a tradition I am Thankful for every year.

Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, or just making a dish to bring to your family or friend's house, these recipes will be a hit!

If you have any recipes that your family enjoys, or if you want to share what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving, I would love to hear them!

~This Thanksgiving, have fun, relax and enjoy~

Categories: Holiday, Recipes
About The Author
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Joan Lunden truly exemplifies today’s modern working woman. An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, one of America’s most recognized and trusted television personalities, this mom of seven continues to do it all. As host of Good Morning America for nearly two decades, Lunden brought insight to top issues for millions of Americans each day. The longest running host ever on early morning television, Lunden reported from 26 countries, covered 4 presidents and 5 Olympics and kept Americans up to date on how to care for their homes, their families and themselves.

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