Feel less guilty and more grateful with these Thanksgiving meal swaps & recipes


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We’re all bound to indulge a little bit on Thanksgiving, but if we dig in to healthier options, we’ll feel less guilty and more grateful. Fitness and wellness expert David Kirsch has devised a “Good, Better, Best” system for all of your favorite Thanksgiving treats to ensure that you have a happy, healthy holiday.

Click on the chart below for healthier suggestions for traditional Thanksgiving dishes that are just as satisfying. You will find some of the featured recipes below.

Thanksgiving turkey boosted with herb spread and stock injection


  • Large handful parsley leaves
  • 8 large sage leaves
  • 8 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 8 sprigs oregano, leaves only
  • Grated zest of a large unwaxed organic lemon
  • 1/2 cup Olivio olive oil spread
  • Approx. 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 lbs. turkey
  • 3 3/4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • A large square of cheesecloth


To make spread:
Chop herbs and transfer to a bowl. Add lemon zest, Olivio and fresh black pepper and stir until well-combined. Divide into two.

For turkey:
Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Inject the breast and thighs with 3/4 cups stock, injecting 3-4 sites on either side of the breast and 2-3 sites on each thigh and drumstick. If possible cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 450F. Lift the skin around he neck of the turkey and gently use your fingers to ease loose the skin over the breast. Rub half of the herb spread over the turkey breast, in the pocket you have just made between the flesh and the skin. Spoon some of the rice stuffing into the neck of the turkey. Fold the skin over the stuffing and secure with toothpicks. Spoon the remainder of the stuffing loosely into the body cavity of the turkey and tie the legs together tightly with string. Put the turkey breast side down on a roasting rack and roast for 30 minutes. Meanwhile melt the remaining herb spread and transfer to a bowl. Add the cheesecloth to the bowl and just enough olive oil to saturate the cheesecloth.

Turn the turkey over so it is breast side up and lay the soaked cheesecloth over the turkey breast. Turn the oven down to 350F. Add the carrots and celery plus 2 cups of the chicken stock to the roasting pan and roast for a further 2 hours, basting every 30 minutes. Top-up the pan with water if it becomes dry. Remove the cheesecloth and roast for another 30 minutes.

Take the turkey from the oven and check the temperature of the thickest part of the leg with an instant read thermometer, it should be at least 170F. Check the temperature of the stuffing in the cavity; it should be at least 150F. If the turkey is not ready then return it to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes.

Transfer the turkey to a large plate and tent with foil. Leave in a warm place to rest for 30 minutes. Spoon the vegetables from the pan into a blender and whiz to a puree.

Add the remaining chicken stock to the roasting pan and stir well. Pour the liquid from the pan into a gravy separator and leave to stand. Once fat has risen to the top pour off the de-fatted stock and transfer to a saucepan then simmer until reduced by half. Whisk in enough of the vegetable puree to thicken the gravy.

(Serves 4)


Holiday rice stuffing


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock, for cooking
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten


Put rice and stock in a large pan and bring up to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45-50 minutes, until rice is tender. Drain well and leave to cool. Put the olive oil in a skillet with 1 tbsp water and sauté shallot 7-8 minutes until soft, then add to the rice along with the cherries, nuts, thyme leaves and egg white. Season with black pepper and mix well.

(Serves 4)


Oven-roasted sweet potato chips


  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Small bunch chives, chopped, to serve.


Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the potatoes into wafer-thin slices - a mandolin is best for this. Put the oil in a large bowl and whisk in the nutmeg and fresh black pepper. Add the potato slices and toss to coat. Spread the potato slices out in single layers on 2-3 large cookie sheets. Roast for 8 minutes, then turn over and roast for a further 8-10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Transfer to trays lines with kitchen paper and blot any excess oil, then sprinkle with a little crushed sea salt and chopped chives before serving.

(Serves 4)


Haricots verts with shallots and almonds


  • 1 lb haricot verts, trimmed
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds


Preheat oven to 450F. Blanch the beans in a large pan of boiling water for 1 minute, drain and shock by
immediately plunging them into a bowl of ice water. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Put the beans
in a large bowl with the shallots and olive oil and toss together. Lay the beans on a large cookie sheet
and scatter over the shallots. Roast for 15 minutes, until the beans are tender and the shallots are soft.
Sprinkle over the almonds and roast for a further 1-2 minutes, to toast the almonds.

(Serves 4)

Almond brittle with apricots and dark chocolate


  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup ready-to-eat dried apricots, cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 oz good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped


Grease a small cookie sheet with a little canola oil. Mix the almonds and apricots together and spread in an even layer over the cookie sheet. Put the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved to a syrup. Raise the heat, bring to a boil and boil for 8-10 minutes, until the sugar turns a golden caramel colour. Do not stir the sugar once it has started boiling but you can pick up the pan occasionally and swirl the sugar around in the pan. Pour the hot sugar over the fruit and nuts on the cookie sheet. Leave in a cool place until set then break the brittle into bite-sized pieces.

Just before serving put the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of warm water, without letting the base of the bowl touch the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Dip the brittle in the melted chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off.

(Serves 4)

Berry tart with whole wheat crust


  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat all purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons Earth Balance vegetable shortening, cut into small cubes
  • 4 handfuls of mixed berries – blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
  • 1 persimmon
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yoghurt, to serve
  • Powdered cinnamon, to serve


To make the crust put the flour and shortening in a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like sand. Add 1 tablespoon of ice water and pulse 4-5 times to combine to form damp crumbs. Squeeze a small amount of the dough with your fingers, it should hold together.

If it does not hold together then add extra water, a teaspoonful at a time. Divide the dough crumbs equally between 4 small (3 1/2 in) loose-bottomed quiche tins and use your fingers to press the crumbs firmly together onto the base and sides of the tin. Freeze for 15 minutes, until firm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. Line the tart shells with squares of baking parchment and fill each one with a handful of baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes then remove the parchment and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the tart shells to cool in their tins, then carefully remove and transfer to a plate. Fill with mixed berries and sliced persimmon. Serve with a little nonfat Greek yoghurt, dusted with cinnamon.

(Serves 4)