Beyond Thanksgiving: A Week of Healthy Meals and Recipes

Healthy dishes to serve your holiday visitors all week long.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for so many reasons: its meaningful origin, the fact that it inspires us to take time to be thankful - and, of course, the feast laden with comfort foods. Most of the excitement is focused on the big day, but if you think about it, there is a whole week of potential meals with visiting friends and family! You may have children coming back home, relatives staying with you for the week, or friends stopping by. For all these wonderful reasons, here is a week of healthy meals and recipes designed specifically for Thanksgiving week:


Breakfast: Everyone in the house can make a Breakfast Burrito by cooking up 1/2 cup of vegetables (try onions, mushrooms, raw or frozen spinach) and adding 1/3 cup egg substitute. Top with an ounce of reduced-fat, shredded cheese and roll it all up in a high-fiber tortilla (some of them have more than 10 grams of fiber).

Lunch: Get a serving of fish today with a tasty Tuna Melt. Start by mixing up a tuna salad using canned tuna packed in water, chopped onions, and celery and apple (if desired). Blend it all together with a light bottled vinaigrette, or a blend of light mayonnaise and fat-free sour cream, then season with pepper to taste. Spread about 1/2 cup of the mixture on a slice of whole-wheat bread, bun, or bagel. Top the other slice of bread with a slice of reduced-fat cheese. Place both slices on a sheet of foil and pop quickly into the toaster oven or broiler (just long enough to melt the cheese -- about a minute). Serve with raw veggies like sugar snap peas and baby carrots.

Dinner: Burgers are exactly 8 minutes away when you're armed with your indoor grill. You can make and form the burgers ahead of time and keep them on a plate (covered) in the refrigerator until you're ready to grill them. Try Cajun Sirloin Burgers on toasted whole grain buns topped with tomato slices, lettuce and onion. Serve with a fruit salad or fruit kabobs made with in-season fruit.

Cajun Sirloin Burgers

1 pound ground sirloin or ground turkey with around 6% fat
3 tablespoons dry Italian bread crumbs
3 to 4 tablespoons egg substitute
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
4 slices (4 ounces) reduced-fat Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese
4 whole-grain buns
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
4 lettuce leaves
4 large tomato slices
about 12 rings of red onion

  1. Preheat grill for high heat.
  2. In an 8 cup measure, blend the ground beef, bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons of egg substitute, green onions, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, and mustard by mixing with hands. Form into 4 patties by hand or using a patty press.
  3. Lightly coat the grill grate with canola cooking spray, and cook the patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Place a slice of the cheese on each burger, and allow to melt.
  4. Serve the burgers on whole grain buns dressed with barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion.

Yield:4 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 420 calories, 35 g protein, 39 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 6.3 g monounsaturated fat, 1.4 g polyunsaturated fat), 46 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 800 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%.


Breakfast: To get your family in a festive fall mood, try Pumpkin Pecan Waffles. You can even make them ahead of time and keep them frozen in a sealable bag. Just pop them in the toaster in the morning, and serve.

Pumpkin Pecan Waffles

1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
3 large egg whites (keep 1 yolk and discard the other two)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons egg substitute
1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk, well-shaken
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons canola oil
About 7 tablespoons dry-toasted pecan pieces
Canola cooking spray

  1. Preheat a Belgian waffle iron.
  2. Whisk together flours, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in medium-sized bowl; set aside.
  3. Add egg yolk and egg substitute to medium bowl and whisk in milk, buttermilk, pumpkin, and canola oil. Continue to whisk until mixture is smooth. Add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture, whisking just until smooth.
  4. Add egg whites to another mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes). Gently fold the egg whites into the pumpkin-and-flour batter.
  5. Coat hot waffle iron with canola cooking spray. Spoon batter (use a slightly heaping 1/4-cup of batter per 4-inch waffle, depending on your particular waffle iron) into the waffle iron, spreading quickly. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of dry-toasted pecan pieces over the top of the two waffles (you can sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or mini chocolate chips instead, if desired). Close lid and bake about 3 minutes, until steaming almost stops and the waffles are golden brown. Serve warm!

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