Heart Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving certainly starts the holiday season off with a bang! It is easy to get carried away and ignore all the healthy eating habits you have been working on through the year. The average American gains at least 1-2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. The problem isn’t necessarily the weight gain; it’s the fact most people are never able to lose the excess. Over 5 years this would cause an increase of 10 lbs.

This season, focus on healthy substitutes instead of the usual holiday items.Each year at Davie Medical Center, the Cardiac Rehab staff and patients come together to share a meal demonstrating some healthy choices to “shake up” the traditional Thanksgiving table. The recipes included below are some of our favorites.

Grandma Gaines Cranberry Salad

1 lb fresh cranberries, washed and ground
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 apples, finely chopped
¼ cup sugar*
3 oranges (2 peeled and diced, 1 unpeeled and ground)
1 can crushed pineapple

Combine all ingredients and chill. A small food processor is helpful in executing this dish. Salad can be made 1-2 days in advance. It gets more flavorful as time progresses. 

*Originally this recipe had 2 cups of sugar, trust us, you don’t need it!

Mashed Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower
1 tablespoon reduced fat cream cheese, softened
¼ cup reduced fat grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon reduced sodium chicken bullion
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Fresh ground pepper and chopped chives to taste.

Boil a stockpot of water over high heat.

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for 6-8 minutes or until well done. Without cooling, drain well and pat dry between several layers of paper towels. In a food processor or blender, purée the hot cauliflower with cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, bullion, and pepper until smooth. Garnish with chives.

Homemade Stuffing

1 loaf of whole grain bread, cubed and dried
¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup celery, diced
½ large onion, diced
1, 5oz can water chestnuts, drained
¾ cup mushrooms, chopped
Pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, sage, thyme, and parsley to taste

A few days in advance, cube the bread and let it dry. When you are ready to make the stuffing, chop celery, onion, and mushrooms. Sauté celery, onion, mushrooms, and water chestnuts in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss with dried bread cubes and put in a greased (with olive oil cooking spray) 9x13 pan. Pour chicken broth on top until the bread rehydrates slightly (may only need ½ cup, or may need 1 cup). Bake at 325° for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Beets and Sweets

2-3 medium sized beets, washed, peeled, and cubed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ large onion, cut into chunks
1 cup diced carrots
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
Pepper, thyme, garlic etc to taste

Wash and chop all veggies into small cubes. Toss in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, balsamic, and honey. Add pepper, thyme, rosemary, basil, garlic powder (or any spices of your choosing) to taste. Spread on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Roast in 425° oven for 30 min, or until tender, tossing once for even cooking

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

4-6 sweet potatoes, cooked
1/3 cup low fat milk (or low fat coconut milk)
1/8 cup honey
1 Tbsp cinnamon
½ Tbsp nutmeg

Remove sweet potatoes from skin (or peel and cube before cooking to boil in water). Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend until smooth with a hand mixer.

Pie Crust

12 low fat, whole grain, honey graham crackers
1 Tbsp honey
2 medium bananas

Break crackers into small pieces. Add to electric mixer or food processor, until fine. Mash bananas with a fork and add to mixer. Blend for 3 minutes. Add honey and continue mixing until a dough-like texture forms. Press dough into a pie pan sprayed with cooking spray. Add desired filling and bake as directed.

Easy, No-bake Pumpkin Pie

1, reduced fat graham cracker crust
1 cup pure pumpkin
1 cup reduced fat Greek yogurt
1 box sugar free, instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix all ingredients and spread into pie shell. Mixture will be thick, take care not to crack crust. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.