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!

Yield: 14 (4-inch) Belgian waffles, about 7 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving (including pecans): 289 calories, 9.5 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate, 10.5 g fat (1.4 g saturated fat, 6 g monounsaturated, 2.7 g polyunsaturated), 33 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g fiber, 371 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.

Lunch: No matter what age they are, most people love making their own personal pizzas, even if using an already prepared crust (or French bread, as in Easy French Bread Pizza). You can buy pizza sauce in bottles or cans, then grab a bag of reduced -fat shredded sharp cheddar and a bag of shredded, part-skim mozzarella. Toppings to have on hand include chopped green onions, green peppers, sliced mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, sliced reduced fat salami or pepperoni, Canadian bacon, crushed or chunks of pineapples (drained).

Easy French Bread Pizza

2 French-bread sandwich rolls, split in half
Olive oil or canola cooking spray
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
1/2 cup bottled pizza sauce (or substitute marinara sauce)
3/4 cup shredded, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese

Assorted vegetable toppings:
Chopped green onions
Tomato slices
Zucchini slices
Mushroom slices
Artichoke hearts
Sliced olives

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Spray the tops of the French-bread roll halves with canola or olive oil cooking spray, then sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the top of each.
  3. Broil bread halves until lightly brown on top (watch carefully).
  4. Spread 1/8 cup pizza sauce over each half, then sprinkle 1/4 of the cheddar cheese and 1/4 of the mozzarella over each bread half.
  5. Arrange any vegetables you choose on top of the cheese.
  6. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly (about 2 minutes).

Yield: 4 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving (without the vegetable toppings): 189 calories, 12 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 6.5 g fat (4.3 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 430 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 36%.

Dinner: Salad Night! With a bag of greens (spinach or Romaine) in your crisper, along with baby carrots, cherry or grape tomatoes, dried cranberries and cherries, pre-shredded cheese, etc., tossing a main dish salad together can be simple! Need an idea? Try this Shrimp & Avocado Salad recipe.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1 cup cooked shrimp meat, rinsed and patted dry (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and halved lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
4 pinches of paprika

  1. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, and chili sauce in a medium bowl and whisk briefly to blend well.
  2. Stir shrimp, red pepper, and chives into the dressing. Spoon the shrimp mixture into the avocado halves, and sprinkle lemon juice over the top of each.
  3. Serve each avocado half on a bed of romaine lettuce (about 1 cup each). Dust the top of each shrimp-stuffed avocado half with a pinch of paprika.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 239 calories, 13 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 14.5 g fat (2.6 g saturated fat, 9.7 g monounsaturated fat, 2.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 84 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 206 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 53%.


In anticipation of "Turkey Day," Wednesday shall be poultry-free!

Breakfast: Have a no fuss bakery breakfast today (try a make-ahead dish like Overnight Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake) so you can get a head start making some of your Thanksgiving dishes.

Overnight Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Canola cooking spray
1 cup cake flour (regular white flour can be substituted)
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (you can delete this and use 2 cups of cake flour if desired)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (Splenda® can be substituted)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream (light can be substituted)
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1 large egg
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup granulated sugar (Splenda® can be substituted)
6 tablespoons cake flour or white flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons no- or low-trans fat margarine (butter can be substituted)
2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream.

  1. Coat a 9x9x2-inch square baking dish (or similar round pan) with canola cooking spray.
  2. Add cake flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, sugar or Splenda®, baking powder, salt, canola oil, fat-free sour cream, low-fat milk, and egg to large mixing bowl and beat for about 30 seconds until blended. Carefully stir in blueberries and spread in prepared pan.
  3. Add the crumb topping ingredients to a small food processor (or use a pastry blender and a medium-sized bowl) and mix together briefly -- just until blended and crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over cake batter.
  4. Cover dish well and put in refrigerator overnight.
  5. In the morning, preheat oven to 375°F. Bake in center of oven until cake tests done (about 45 minutes).

Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving (using Splenda): 219 calories, 6 g protein, 32 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 4.1 g monounsaturated fat, 2.6 g polyunsaturated fat), 27 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 398 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%. Per serving (using sugar): 340 calories, 6 g protein, 63 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 4.1 g monounsaturated fat, 2.6 g polyunsaturated fat), 27 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 398 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.

Lunch: Enjoy a meatless sandwich, such as a Tuscany Meatless Sandwich.

Tuscany Meatless Sandwiches

1 large slice sourdough or French bread, or a 7-inch-long baguette half
About 7 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon olive oil (flavored or extra-virgin)
3 large, thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1.5 ounces)
1/2 large vine-ripened tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  1. Cover the bread with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon olive oil evenly over the basil. Top that with fresh mozzarella slices.
  2. Broil sandwich, watching carefully, until cheese is melted and starting to lightly brown in spots (about 5 minutes in a toaster oven).
  3. Lay tomato slices on top of the mozzarella, then drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar over all.

Yield: 1 open-face sandwich

Nutritional Information: Per open-face sandwich: 314 calories, 18 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 11.5 g fat (5.3 g saturated fat, 4.4 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat), 23 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 560 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.


Which is one of the few drinks to be considered a superfood? See Answer

Dinner: Now for something completely different from tomorrow's meal - and easy to fix -- how about chili and cornbread? You can make the chili anytime during the morning (even the day before). Then just add it to the slow cooker and keep it warm until you're ready to serve. Beef & Beer Chili is a mild slow-cooker favorite - add extra chili powder, cayenne pepper, or jalapeno if you want a hotter chili.

Beef and Beer Chili

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound beef top round (such as London broil), trimmed of fat and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
31 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced or chopped garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
14 1/2 ounce can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes (or similar)
1 cup light or non-alcoholic beer (beef broth or water can be substituted)
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped chili pepper (jalapeno chili, halved and seeded (optional), finely
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped chili pepper (jalapeno chili, halved and seeded (optional), finely chopped
15 ounce can low-sodium kidney beans (or pinto beans), drained and rinsed
Finely minced onion for serving (optional)
Grated reduced-fat sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, nonstick frying pan or skillet. Add beef, onion, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until browned (about 3 minutes).
  2. Spoon beef mixture into crock pot. Add paprika, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and stewed tomatoes (including liquid), beer, jalapeno if desired, and beans. Stir to combine. Cover and turn crock pot on LOW. Cook 8-10 hours.
  3. Sprinkle each serving with minced onion and grated cheese if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 231 calories, 23 g protein, 22 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 39 mg cholesterol, 7.5 g fiber, 211 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.

When you have an extra 15 to 20 minutes: Assemble breakfast for tomorrow -- this keeps your holiday morning stress-free and frees up some time for last-minute Thanksgiving dishes. Some examples of "make ahead" possibilities include making overnight French toast (see recipe below) a light strata, or a batch of cinnamon rolls that keeps in the refrigerator and is baked the next morning. You could also bake a light coffee cake or quiche and serve it with fruit the next morning. Or you could make crepes, keep them in the refrigerator in a plastic container or bag, then serve with fruit and vanilla yogurt or light whipped cream the next morning.

Overnight Creme Brulee French Toast

3 tablespoons low- or no-trans fat margarine or butter
5 tablespoons reduced-calorie pancake syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier® (or other orange liqueur), divided
At least 8 (1 inch thick) slices of French or sourdough bread (you might need more to cover the bottom of the pan depending on the size of your bread)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters®)
1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Garnish: fresh strawberries or other berries and a dollop of light whipped cream or Light Cool Whip®.

  1. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with canola cooking spray. Melt margarine or butter in a small nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Mix in reduced-calorie pancake syrup, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier®, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  2. Remove crusts from bread and arrange slices in the baking dish in a single layer on top of the brown sugar mixture (enough slices to cover the bottom of the pan).
  3. In small bowl, whisk together eggs, egg substitute, fat-free half-and-half, vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier®, and salt. Pour mixture evenly over the bread. Cover well and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the dish from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  5. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes until puffed and lightly browned. Serve with fresh fruit and a dollop of light whipped cream if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 294 calories, 12 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 6.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 2.1 g monounsaturated fat, 1.8 g polyunsaturated fat), 82 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 537 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 20%.


Breakfast: Simply bake or assemble the "make ahead" breakfast you put together on Wednesday.

The Feast (Lunch/Dinner): If you're hosting, you can make your day easier by delegating a few dishes to family members or family. If Aunt Martha makes the best pumpkin pie, ask if she wouldn't mind bringing one. And maybe your sister has a new stuffing recipe she wants to try --sign her up! While many desserts, appetizers and side dishes can be assembled the day before, certain key components are best made the day of, like the roasted turkey, green salad and some vegetable side dishes like Easy Green Bean Almandine. You can actually make the mashed potatoes a day before, but you might need to add more milk to soften the texture once they're reheated.

Easy Green Beans Almandine

1 24-ounce bag extra fine French green beans
1 1/2 tablespoons whipped butter
2 tablespoons Amaretto (or similar almond liqueur)
1/4 cup toasted flavored sliced almonds

  1. Briefly rinse frozen beans in hot water from the tap to lightly thaw. Start heating a large, nonstick frying pan, skillet, or wok over medium-high heat. Add the whipped butter and let it brown just slightly (about a minute), stirring constantly.
  2. Add the green beans and saute about 2 minutes, stirring often. Drizzle Amaretto liqueur over the top and continue to saute 2 to 3 minutes more or until beans are still a nice green and just tender.
  3. Spoon the green beans into a serving bowl and sprinkle the almond slices evenly over the top.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving (if 8 per recipe): 73 calories, 2 g protein, 8.5 g carbohydrate, 3.2 g fat (0.9 g saturated fat), 4 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 60 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 38%.

Just A Thought: Everyone wants to save their appetites for the big feast but it's good to have some quick, light appetizers that you can put out before the feast (if your family is having a Thanksgiving dinner) or after the feast, once people get hungry again (if your family is gathering for a Thanksgiving lunch.)

Some easy appetizers for light munching:

  • Fruit and cheese platter (buy pre-sliced and prepared fruit if you're short on time). Some fruits that complement cheese nicely are pears, apples, grapes, and melon.
  • Veggie platter (buy pre-sliced or diced vegetables if you are short on time). Good vegetables to use are celery sticks, baby carrots, zucchini and cucumber coins, broccoli and cauliflower florets, sugar snap peas, cherry or grape tomatoes, etc.
  • Soup can be light if it's broth- or tomato-based (and not creamy or cheesy). You can have homemade soup made and ready to warm up, or keep some store-bought favorites on hand.
  • A nice hot dip or spread, such as my Parmesan Artichoke Dip can be quite satisfying when served with high fiber bread or crackers.

Parmesan Artichoke Dip

4 ounces light cream cheese
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons mild, chopped, canned green chilies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add cream cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic to a small mixing bowl and beat on medium low until blended. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2 quart casserole or baking dish and bake until bubbly (about 30 minutes).

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving (not including the bread): 164 calories, 6 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 13 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 352 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 55%.


Breakfast: The day after Thanksgiving calls for a high fiber breakfast chased down with plenty of no-calorie beverages (like water, tea, coffee) to help keep your intestinal tract moving along. Here are some options:

  • 2 regular sized whole grain muffins (around 300 calories total) such as Apple Oat Muffins.
  • Bowl of high fiber whole grain cereal like Raisin Bran topped with fresh fruit and skim milk.
  • Low fat yogurt topped with fresh fruit and some high fiber granola or grape nuts sprinkled over the top.

Apple Oat Muffins

1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons less-fat margarine (with 8 g fat per tablespoon)
2 to 3 tablespoons oats

2 tablespoons less-fat margarine
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar blend with Splenda® or Equal®)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk (or mix 2 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half with 1/4 teaspoon vinegar and let stand)
2 apples, cored and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. Add the brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, pinch of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon to a large mixing bowl and beat briefly to blend, with mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add the 2 tablespoons margarine and beat on low until crumb mixture forms. Work the oats in with your hands. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Return mixing bowl to mixer and add the 2 tablespoons margarine, sugar (or sugar blend), and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat to combine, scraping sides of bowl.
  4. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a 4-cup measure, and whisk to blend.
  5. Add the flour mixture all at once to the mixing bowl, along with the sour cream and buttermilk. Beat on low speed just until blended (scraping down the sides of bowl after 5 seconds). Stir in the apple chunks.
  6. Spoon a slightly heaping 1/8 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of each muffin. Bake for about 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and top springs back after being pushed.

Yield: 12 muffins (6 servings)

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 130 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat), 18 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 192 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 17%.

LUNCH: Make your own "day after Thanksgiving" designer turkey sandwich. My favorite is turkey topped with light cream cheese, cranberry sauce, and alfalfa sprouts on whole wheat bread.

Dinner: Slow cooker Shepherd's Pie is made with leftover turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and vegetables. You can assemble this in you slow cooker anytime in the early afternoon and let it get hot and stay hot until you are ready to serve it for dinner.

Slow Cooker Shepherd's Pie

Mashed Potatoes:
6 cups cooked, peeled, hot, drained, potato quarters (if potatoes are large, cut into 6 or 8 pieces)
2 tablespoons whipped butter or less fat margarine
6 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half (or low fat milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

Meat Mixture:
2 cups cooked lean meat of your choice, cut into bite-size pieces (roasted turkey, roast beef, etc.)
2 1/4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, lightly cooked or thawed (such as a blend of green beans, wax beans, and baby carrots)
10.5-ounce can condensed cream of celery soup (with around 4.5 grams fat per 1/2 cup serving of soup)
1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
4 green onions, white and part of the green, chopped


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3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. Add hot potatoes (from colander) directly into large mixing bowl. Add the whipped butter and fat-free half-and-half, and beat on low until desired texture is achieved.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste. Coat inside of the slow cooker with canola cooking spray and spread mashed potatoes in the bottom. Sprinkle black pepper over the top, if desired. Spread pieces of meat evenly over mashed potatoes. Top with mixed vegetables.
  3. Add condensed cream of celery soup to a 2-cup measure. Stir in sour cream and green onions. Spread mixture over the top of the vegetables in the slow cooler. Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. Afterward, if you are using cheese, sprinkle it over the top and cook on high until cheese is melted (about 20-30 minutes more.)

Yield: 4 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 367 calories, 29 g protein, 46 g carbohydrate, 6.8 g fat (1.1 g saturated fat), 61 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 487 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 17%.


Breakfast: Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes (using half whole wheat flour) served with fresh fruit and light pork or soy sausage links, such as Sing the Blues Flapjacks.

Sing the Blues Flapjacks

1 cup cake flour or unbleached white flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs (or 1 egg plus 1/4 cup egg substitute, or 2 egg whites)
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup reduced-calorie pancake syrup
1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh unsweetened blueberries

  1. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in medium bowl and blend well with fork.
  2. Beat eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla in mixing bowl on medium-low speed until smooth.
  3. Add canola oil, pancake syrup, and dry ingredients to egg mixture in mixing bowl and beat on lowest speed, scraping with rubber spatula, just until blended. Gently fold in blueberries. Do not over mix.
  4. Let batter rest for 20 minutes. Spray griddle lightly with canola cooking spray. Preheat griddle until a drop of water skittles across the surface. 5. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto griddle. Cook over medium heat until bubbles form (30-60 seconds). Turn over with spatula and cook another 30-60 seconds or until golden brown. Serve pancakes with your preferred toppings.

Yield: 5 servings (3-4 pancakes each)

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 314 calories, 11 g protein, 54 g carbohydrate, 6.5 g fat (1.3 g saturated fat), 46 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g fiber, 840 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 19%.

Lunch: Set up a Quesadilla Bar, where everyone can make their own quesadillas by putting a higher fiber flour tortilla or a couple of corn tortillas on a plate and topping with reduced fat shredded cheese and assorted fillings. Choose from chopped green onions and tomatoes, sliced avocado, corn kernels, roasted vegetables, and cooked lean meat, if desired. Top the filling with a second tortilla and slide the quesadilla onto a medium-hot, nonstick frying pan coated with canola cooking spray. When underside is lightly brown, flip over and brown the other side. Serve with nonfat sour cream and your favorite salsa.

Dinner: How about a hearty pasta and beef dish like Beef Stroganoff served with a nice green salad? You can even make this dish on Friday and heat it up in 5 minutes!

Beef Stroganoff

About 2 pounds top sirloin steak, trimmed of visible fat, cut into 1/3-inch strips
Salt and pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
3/4 pound thickly sliced mushrooms
10 1/2-ounce can beef consomme
2 tablespoons Cognac (vodka can be substituted)
3/4 cup fat-free half-and-half
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
8 cups cooked whole-wheat blend pasta of your choice
Paprika, as desired

  1. Pat meat strips well with paper towels, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper if desired. Heat oil in heavy nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add meat in single layer and cook just until brown on both sides (about 1 minute per side). Remove meat to a holding plate.
  2. Add shallots and mushrooms to the same frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Pour 1/8 cup consomme over the top and simmer until mushrooms are tender, scraping up browned bits as it cooks (about 6 minutes).
  3. Pour in the remaining consomme and cognac and continue to cook until liquid thickens (about 10 minutes). Stir in the fat-free half-and-half and the Dijon mustard. Add the meat strips and any juices from the holding plate. Simmer over medium-low heat until the meat is heated through and cooked to your desired doneness (about 2 minutes). Stir in chopped dill. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
  4. Serve stroganoff over cooked noodles and sprinkle paprika over the top as desired.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Nutritional Information: Per Serving (if 8 per serving): 410 calories, 38 g protein, 43 g carbohydrate, 9.5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 76 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 331 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.


Breakfast: You can set up a Bagel Buffet in about 15 minutes! Just put out assorted sliced bagels, two types of light cream cheese (plain and flavored), and two protein choices (lox and thinly sliced lean ham, for example). Assorted fresh fruit would add color and fiber to the meal as well.

Lunch: How about a hot supper meal that cooks while you are hiking with your family or attending a church service? Apple Spiced Pork Roast, a slow cooker recipe, will make for a festive Sunday supper.

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Apple-Spiced Pork Roast

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram (you can also substitute dried sage)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper
2 1/3 to 2 1/2 pound pork sirloin tri-tip roast
1 cup spiced apple cider (bottled)
2 Fuji or Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 3/4- inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons quick-mixing flour

  1. In a small bowl, mix together rosemary, thyme, marjoram, salt, and pepper. Rub the herb mixture all over the outside of the pork roast. Place in the slow cooker. Pour apple cider around the roast. Cover roast with apple pieces, then top apples with onion pieces. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the top of the apples and onions.
  2. Cover slow cooker and cook on low about 4-5 hours (a meat thermometer inserted into the center of roast should register at 165 degrees). When cooked throughout, remove roast to serving platter.
  3. Turn slow cooker to HIGH. Add maple butter to a microwave-safe custard cup and microwave on HIGH for about 5 seconds to soften. Stir in flour (add a tablespoon of juice from slow cooker, if needed). Stir maple paste into the apple-onion-cider mixture in slow cooker. Cook for 30 minutes longer, or until thickened nicely. Meanwhile, after pork has cooled slightly (about 10 minutes), cover with foil to keep warm.
  4. Serve sliced pork roast with apple-onion sauce, and steamed yams if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 365 calories, 26 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 107 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 250 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%.

Dinner: Choose a nice broth or tomato-based soup with vegetables and serve it with some toasty whole grain rolls. A favorite is Whole Grain Chicken Noodle Soup.

Whole-Grain Chicken Noodle Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced celery
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups chopped sweet onion
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, roasted or grilled (or skinless meat from 1 rotisserie chicken)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Black pepper to taste
3 cups boiled and drained whole-wheat blend pasta (like Barilla Plus® penne pasta)
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (canned or reconstituted from packets)
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh chopped fresh herb blend (such as parsley, sage and oregano)

  1. Add olive oil to large nonstick sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add celery, mushrooms and onion and saute until vegetables are lightly browned (about 5 minutes).
  2. Stir in shredded chicken, garlic, and black pepper, and toss to blend well.
  3. Add the pasta, chicken broth, and fresh herbs and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover pot and let simmer about 10-15 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 223 calories, 20 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 41 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g fiber,171 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 29%.

Recipes provided by Elaine Magee; © Elaine Magee

Published November 14, 2007.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

©2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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