New Twists on Old Thanksgiving Favorites

Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor Melanie Douglass has some approved twists you might enjoy.

Don’t worry; this isn’t the same old dietetics speech that comes up every year when Thanksgiving rolls around. I know that you know we all eat too much on this one, nutritionally fateful, day. Bleh.

I’ve given up telling everyone to eat less on Thanksgiving (hey, I can’t even do it!). But what I haven’t given up on is variety. Traditions run deep, I know. But variety is good… and every once in a while—when practicing a little variety—we come up with some real gems. Exhibit one: these three fabulous recipes. They are delicious, fun alternatives to Thanksgiving favorites that have less calories, fat, or sugar (shhh!!) and actually taste better (cross my heart) than traditional artery-clogging versions.

1. Instead of candied sweet potatoes/yams… try Caramelized Butternut Squash

This new recipe has just 40-60 calories per serving. That’s ridiculously lower and healthier than the usual sweet potato appearance, which ranges from 300 – 600 calories per serving.

Caramelized Butternut Squash

Nutrition info per 1-cup serving: 60 cals, 3 grams healthy fat, 4 grams sugar, 110% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C.


• 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)

• 5-6 tablespoons Canola Harvest soft spread (melted)

• 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

• 1/2-1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Cut off the ends of each butternut squash and discard.

3. Place squash in pot of boiling water for 5 minutes to soften the skin. Then peel and cut in half lengthwise.

4. Using a spoon, remove the seeds.

5. Cut the squash into 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ cubes (large and uniform is best), and place them on a baking sheet.

6. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper.

7. With clean hands, toss all of the ingredients together and spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet.

8. Roast for 45 minutes to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize.

9. Turn the squash while roasting a few times with a spatula to be sure it browns evenly.

2. Instead of pumpkin pie… try Carrot Pie!

This unique twist on pumpkin pie comes from Jamar Wilson of South Jordan. The carrots add a deeper, richer flavor and actually make the pie moister; and since carrots naturally contain fewer carbs than raw pumpkin, every slice comes out with a few less calories and sugar, but still has that perfect “pumpkin” flavor.

Carrot Pie

Nutrition info per 1/8 pie: 280 cals, 14 gm fat, 2 gm fiber, 23 gm sugar, 6 gm protein


• 1 cup cooked, sliced carrots

• 2 eggs

• 1 cup evaporated skim milk

• ¾ cup sugar

• 1 tbsp. flour

• 1 ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice


1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

2. Put all ingredients in the blender. Blend and pour into pie shell.

3. Bake at 400 for 40 – 50 minutes. Pie is done when knife slipped into center and comes out clean.

* It’s best to make the pie crust first so the filling can be put into the uncooked shell as soon as it is made.

* It’s easy to scorch carrots, so use plenty of water and watch carefully!

Instead of regular stuffing/dressing… try Crockpot Stuffing

This new recipe saves valuable time and oven space, has half the fat (you won’t even notice!) and is made with high-fiber wheat bread.

Crockpot Stuffing

Nutrition info per ½-cup serving: 150 cals, 7 gm mono fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 3 gm fiber, 4 gm protein (and 50-75% lower in sodium than other versions)


• 1/2 cup Canola Harvest soft spread

• 2 cups chopped celery

• 1 cup chopped onion

• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

• 12 oz. sliced mushrooms (opt)

• 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

• 1 1/2 teaspoons sage leaves, crumbled

• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

• 1 teaspoon thyme

• 2 beaten eggs

• 2 cups chicken broth

• 12 slices whole-wheat bread, cubed (I use Granny’s Wheat ‘n Fiber bread… perfect!)


1. Place the Canola Harvest, onions, celery and parsley in a pan and sauté until the onions are tender (~5 min on med-high)

2. Place the bread (you may toast it first), seasonings, eggs and sauté mixture (onion, celery, etc) in the crockpot and stir together.

3. Pour 2 cups of broth over the top (until moist) and cook in slow cooker on high for 45 minutes; then reduce heat to low for 4-6 hours.

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