For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family, friends and good food, without done-to-death commercialism. Unfortunately, a lot of what makes Thanksgiving wonderful for many people can also make it very difficult for people who are trying to lose weight, or at least not gain.

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But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Trim Down Club has assembled a Thanksgiving menu that focuses on the fresh, the natural, and the unprocessed, for the tastiest, least-fattening Thanksgiving ever.

If you eat meat, start with a good turkey: pasture-raised, if possible, from your local farmer’s market. It makes a difference. If the turkey is frozen, thaw slowly in the refrigerator at the rate of 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of frozen meat. Leave it in its original wrappings and place it in a large pan to hold the drippings. You will have to plan to do this, but it is the only safe way to thaw a frozen turkey. (Thawing a turkey at room temperature is practically putting out the welcome mat for food poisoning! Not the Thanksgiving memories you—or your guests—want.)

Turkeys are native to the “New World”: the Aztecs domesticated them, and the conquistadores brought some back to Spain in 1498. Within 100 years, turkeys had spread all over Europe, and the English had adopted them as the main course for a Christmas feast. When the Pilgrims came to New England and encountered wild North American turkey, they already knew that young turkeys had mild, succulent breast meat and older turkeys made tasty roasts.

The Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey is a blend of Old and New World flavors. The turkey and chili pepper originated with the Aztecs, while garlic, limes, mint, pepper and sage are of Old World origin.

If you’re an adventurous cook or comfortable with smoking, this Stovetop-Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey would be a wonderful centerpiece for the Thanksgiving feast, and the carcass would make a superb chowder.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Stovetop-Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

Regardless of which recipe you use, gravy is usually a Thanksgiving tradition, and we’ve provided a tasty recipe for Simple Homemade Gravy that your waistline will also appreciate.

In either case, you may spatchcock the turkey: with poultry shears, cut out the spine. Then turn the turkey breast-side up, place your hand on the breast, close to the breastbone, and press until you hear a crack. You may want to stand on a stool for additional leverage. This method will make the presentation less dramatic: the stuffing must be placed under the bird or in a separate pan. However, it has significant advantages.

  • Both dark and light meat will cook at approximately the same time. This means no overdone, dried-out breast, underdone thighs, and soggy back skin.
  • The fat from the skin will seep into the meat, moistening it, leaving the skin crisp and crackling.
  • The stuffing underneath the turkey will be infused with turkey flavor as well.
  • The spine will enrich any turkey stock you make.

If you spatchcock, you must use a meat thermometer: spatchcocking reduces cooking time by about 1/3 to 1/2 of the time for a whole bird of similar size. Baste it well and watch it to make sure it doesn’t overcook.

Not everyone who loves Thanksgiving loves turkey—some of us are vegetarians, some of us are vegans, some of us just don’t like turkey—and the breast is the worst part. We’re waiting for the Great Pumpkin, which has low-carb starch outside and protein inside. But even people who love turkey will enjoy it—and it makes a fabulous centerpiece.

The Great Pumpkin

The Great Pumpkin

Whether you’ve spatchcocked the turkey and are roasting it on a bed of stuffing, stuffing a whole bird, or roasting whole bird and stuffing separately, we’ve got three wonderfully different recipes for you. Try one or even all of them, you won’t be disappointed.

Our Classic Stuffing recipe is a great variation of a family favorite, with croutons, celery, onion, sage and stock, vegetable for a vegan option.

Our Native American Cornbread Stuffing calls for turkey stock, but it’s both vegetarian- and vegan-friendly and a protein component means it can double as a main dish.

If you or some of your guests need a grainless stuffing option, our Paleo Nut Stuffing is sure to please, with its flavorful, omega-3 rich base of finely ground hazelnuts and flaxseed.

The Native American Green-Bean Casserole is an excellent twist on the traditional green-beans-in-canned-mushroom-soup recipe: it’s light, citrusy, incredibly flavorful, and its ingredients will help control your blood sugar—which will be important for dessert.

Instead of mashed potatoes, try this light, creamy, fluffy, garlic-enriched Creamy Cauliflower Mash. It’s a proven, low-carb, vegan-friendly favorite that you can enjoy without any regrets.

Everyone loves candied yams, but not everyone can tolerate the carbs. Now you can indulge with our Low-Carb Candied Yums!

Low-Carb Cranberry Sauce

Saucy Low-Carb Cranberries

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce, but not everyone wants (or can handle) the huge amounts of sugar in traditional cranberry sauce. Our Saucy Low-Carb Cranberries are incredibly flavorful: they’ll satisfy your cranberry cravings without sending you on the blood sugar roller-coaster.

Of course, pumpkin pie is the traditional end to Thanksgiving, and we have two versions for your pleasure.

Please-Everyone Holiday Pie will do just that: you don’t have to bake it, it’s gluten-free and can also be nut-free, vegan-friendly and low in both cholesterol and sugar. It’s also incredibly rich-tasting, with that pumpkin base we all love.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie calls for a butter-and-lard crust, a combination that makes the texture almost miraculous in texture and flavor (try to get pastured products for a more healthful option), though the vegan options provided are not far behind! If kosher or halal are important to you, going all-vegan is the safest bet. In texture and flavor, this pie is both light and rich; serve it with real whipped cream (dairy or vegan) for a new favorite.

Recipes that are long on flavor and short on added sugar, salt and fat combined with reasonable portions will allow you to enjoy Thanksgiving without derailing your weight-loss goals.

To learn more about how the Trim Down Club can help you reach those goals, click here.

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