Spare the guilt this Thanksgiving with these healthy alternatives

Ah, Thanksgiving. The day we all gather around and give thanks to what we’re grateful for in our lives, or as we all call it, I-ate-so-much-I-am-about-to-explode-day. The aftermath of the Thanksgiving dinner gives us the realization that we do not self-control and we do not have the money to purchase new clothing that will not squeeze the soul out of us. But fear not, there are alternative healthy meals that will spare us the guilt of pigging out. Now let’s all gather around the table and stuff our faces like there is no tomorrow:

Green Beans and Caramelized Shiitakes


* 1 ½ lbs. green beans (trimmed)

* ½ of shiitake mushrooms (caps sliced, stems removed or saved for stock)

* 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

* 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)

* 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

* 1 ½ tablespoons of reduced-sodium soy sauce


1. Steam the green beans until tender for approximately 5 minutes.

2. Sauté the mushrooms along with 2 tablespoons of the oil until they’re browned in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.

3. Push the mushrooms to the side and add the remaining tablespoon of the oil.

4. Sauté the garlic in the oil for 30 seconds and add the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Stir along with the mushrooms and sauté for about 1 to 2 minutes until all the sauce is absorbed.

5. Toss the green beans with the mushrooms and heat through.


Reason to not feel guilty: 90 calories to enjoy! 


Pumpkin Rice Pudding


  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of Arborio rice
  • 3 cups of reduced-fat (2%) milk
  • 1 cup of solid-pack pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¾ cup of honey
  • 1 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon of ground cinnamon (plus more for garnish)
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream (whipped)


  1. Place the 2 cups of water in an ovenproof 4-quart saucepan to boil. Stir in the rice and cover. Reduce heat to low and let the rice simmer for 20 minutes until it is cooked.
  2. Whisk together the milk, pumpkin, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add the mixture while the rice is still hot to the saucepan and stir well to combine. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until liquid is reduced to about a 1/3 and the mixture is foamy and bubbling.
  4. Remove from the oven and stir well to combine all the ingredients. Transfer to a large bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. The pudding will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle cinnamon.

Reason to not feel guilty: 240 calories, and no reason to be ashamed about it!

Pomegranate and Pumpkin Seed Tabouli



* 1 ½ cups of bulgur wheat

* 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

* 2 cups of water

* ½ cup of lemon juice

* ½ tablespoons of kosher salt

* 1 cup of flat-leaf parsley leaves (chopped)

* 1/4 cup of mint leaves (chopped) (optional)

* 3 green onions (thinly sliced)

* 1 cup of pomegranate seeds

* ½ cup of toasted pumpkin seeds


1. In a medium spacepan, place 2 cups of water to boil and stir in the bulgur wheat. Cover and turn off the heat. For approximately 8 minutes, let the bulgur stand until the water is absorbed. Uncover and fluff with fork and allow it to cool.

2. Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and salt in a large serving bowl. Mix in the parsley, mint (if you decide to use it), green onions, and pomegranate seeds.

3. Mix in the bulgur wheat and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds. Serve.

Reason to not feel guilty: Only 190 calories!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes


  • 1 ¼ pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 large cloves garlic (peeled and quartered)
  • ½ cup of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place potatoes and garlic in a steamer basket fitted over a large pot of boiling water. Cover and steam for 12 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are knife-tender.
  2. Warm the chicken broth in a small pot on the stove or in a glass container in the microwave.
  3. Remove the steamer basket and drain the water from the large pot. Transfer the potatoes and garlic to the pot (or the glass container), add the oil, salt, pepper, and broth, and mash until it’s smooth. Serve.

Reason to not feel guilty: It’s only 170 calories! 

Butternut Squash with Pumpkin Seeds and Cranberries


1 lb of butternut squash (diced into ½ inch cubes)

  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of pomegranate juice or orange juice
  • 1/8 of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds (toasted)
  • 3 tablespoons of dried cranberries


  1. Steam the squash until tender for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain any water.
  2. Whish together the mustard, vinegar, juice, salt, and oil in a large bowl.
  3. Toss the squash in the bowl with the mixture.
  4. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and cranberries. Serve.


Reason to not feel guilty: Contains only 190 calories! 

Complied by: Karina Hernandez