Does the thought of facing Thanksgiving dinner have you dusting off your elastic waist pants? I’m here to tell you, no worries if you use some of my tricks for taking out the calories but leaving in the flavor.
I have been transforming my holiday and party recipes into delicious, low fat, low calorie dishes. I had to take a big leap to try recipes that don’t start with bacon fat, but I promise, you won’t miss it! Honest! Here are a few I’ve already tested:
Instead of green bean casserole, try green beans with caramelized shallots. I am very pleased with how easy this recipe is, but, wowee-delicious! I caramelized the shallots in a teeny tiny bit of olive oil in a non-stick pan. I cooked them over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. They became lusciously browned with a bit of crunch.
I used the pre-cleaned bagged green beans that come in a microwavable plastic bag. If you haven’t tried these yet, I must insist – try them – immediately!! They have become my go-to vegetable, holiday or no holiday. You poke a few holes in the bag with a fork and microwave them for four minutes. Instant farm stand green beans with no fuss, no muss.
After I caramelized the shallots, I nuked the green beans. I added them to the shallots and tossed to coat the beans with all that yummy shallot flavor. Add a sprinkle of coarse ground sea salt and a bit of black pepper and serve. I can’t believe how good these are! And the best part, you can do the shallots ahead of time. Let them hang out on the back of the stove until you are ready to serve. Nuke the beans, toss together and this dish is ready in a flash. Click here for the recipe.
How about fresh Brussels sprouts roasted with fresh cranberries? Look how gorgeous they are. And this is another, super easy side dish. I tossed the Brussels sprouts with a tad bit of olive oil and spread them out on a foil lined cookie sheet. I tossed the cranberries with a dressing I made from honey and orange juice (a tablespoon of each). I sprinkled the coated cranberries over the Brussels sprouts and sprinkled everything with smoked sea salt. Smoked sea salt?? Yeah baby, it’s all the rage and it has become my new favorite “tastes like bacon” ingredient. You can find a wide variety of smoked salts in gourmet shops and online.
Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and put them cut side down on a foil lined pan. This way, they get evenly browned and beautiful. Roast the sprouts and berries for 20 minutes at 435 degrees with no turning or stirring. When you turn them into the serving bowl, give them a light spray of Pam and a fresh sprinkle of salt. This dish will be a crowd pleaser! Click here for the recipe.
Wait til you try this twist on the classic butternut squash side dish! How about kicking up the flavor with sage and a hint of onion? Who needs all that butter when you have those yummy holiday herbs and flavors added? And my super-secret short cut for this dish – use frozen cooked butternut squash puree. If you’re afraid you might be smited by the ghost of your great grandmother, then by all means, buy the fresh squash. You can peel it, seed it, roast it and mash it if you like. I tested the recipe both ways and couldn’t taste the difference when I used the frozen squash. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I think I was just poked by an ancestor!
Another trick to boost the flavor using less fat is to use “brown butter” In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 teaspoons of butter until it becomes toasty and browned. Be careful not to burn it, just lightly toast it until you can smell the nuttiness and see the slight browning of the butter.
Meanwhile, grate half of a large sweet onion. Grate the onion on your box grater. I guess you could use a food processor, but it is really easy to use the box grater. You’ll end up with lot of onion juice and some onion pulp. I like to use grated onion when I don’t want the onion chunks, but I want the fresh onion taste. Add the grated onion and onion juice to the browned butter. Saute over medium heat until most of the onion juice has evaporated.
Add a tablespoon of dried rubbed sage and saute for another minute or two. I don’t recommend fresh sage for this dish. I find fresh sage is good if it is cooked for a long time, but in a quick dish like this, fresh sage can taste bitter and has a medicinal flavor.
Add the pureed squash (fresh or frozen, I’ll never tell) to the onion sage mixture and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a garnish of fresh sage leaves. Delish delish delish!! Two measly teaspoons of butter for the whole dish is plenty, thanks to the flavor boost from browning the butter and the onion and sage. Added bonus – this dish can be made ahead of time and reheated. Yay!! I love make ahead holiday dishes!! For the complete recipe, click here.
If you don’t have the calorie budget for pumpkin pie, or you can’t find your elastic waist pants, try this amazing knock off. No-crust pumpkin pie custard cups with a dollop of fat free cool whip or fat free frozen vanilla yogurt. You won’t miss the crust. I tested this recipe by making a batch of the standard pumpkin pie filling, except I made a few substitutions. I substituted fat free evaporated milk for the full fat kind. Also, I used a little bit of real brown sugar and the rest Splenda artificial sweetener. I used whole eggs because you need the yolks to make a good custard. I added the standard spices and poured the mixture into custard cups that had been sprayed with Pam. I baked them for about 50 minutes at 350. Really really good. Try the recipe by clicking here!