It’s almost Thanksgiving, the official beginning to the end-of-year eating season. It’s a holiday steeped in tradition, and unfortunately for our health, many of our best Thanksgiving traditions are founded on unhealthy amounts of fat and salt. Portion control can help to keep your weight and disease management on track, but greater-than-usual temptations — not to mention a lack of healthy options — can make sticking to a sensible diet that much more difficult. This holiday, you can aim for better nutrition by giving a Thanksgiving staple a healthier makeover.
Pre-packaged stuffing mixes may have unhealthy levels of sodium that lengthen their shelf life and enhance flavor. Instead, ditch the boxes and bags and try making your own from scratch. This simple baked stuffing is lower in sodium and assembles in a few easy steps, with mushrooms and artichoke hearts lending it a subtler, earthy flavor.
Spruced-Up Savory Stuffing
Servings: 12 | Time: About 1 hour
12 ounces plain, unseasoned croutons
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large heat-proof mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and broth until incorporated. Add croutons and stir until all have soaked up some liquid. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add artichokes, garlic, thyme, and pepper and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the bread bowl and stir until incorporated.
- Lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and press the stuffing evenly across the bottom. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes, until nicely browned.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Calories: 125; Fat: 2.9 g; Cholesterol: 32 mg; Sodium: 239.4 mg; Carbohydrates: 20.1 g; Fiber: 2.7 g; Sugars: 1.5 g; Protein: 5.8 g.
- Technically, this recipe is for ‘dressing,’ as it is baked outside the turkey. If you choose to make proper ‘stuffing’ and bake it inside a bird, be sure to carefully monitor the entire dish for doneness. Adding stuffing adds to baking time, and the stuffing will be the last part that reaches the safe internal temperature of 165°F, after the meat is cooked through. Best to have a meat thermometer on hand and check the breast, thigh, and stuffing cavity to be safe.
- For even more homemade goodness, you can try making your own bread cubes from 5-6 slices of firm, dry bread (e.g. sourdough, French, Italian). This link contains step-by-step instructions for cutting and toasting your own.
- The variety of mushroom is your choice: this recipe will work with conventional white mushrooms, but the flavor gains complexity with more exotic varieties such as shiitake.
- For garnish, you can add a splash of parsley or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese — but remember that the latter will change the fat and sodium content slightly.
- Stuffing is an incredibly versatile dish. So long as it contains bread, liquid, and seasoning, it can support any number of clever and delicious variations. Click here for a fairly exhaustive overview of concocting your own stuffing. (Keep in mind that with every ingredient you modify, the nutrition content will change accordingly.)
- There are many substitutions and alternate dishes that can be healthier options on your Thanksgiving table. For example, try roasting vegetables instead of hiding them in a creamy, fatty casserole, or replace mashed potatoes with this ingenious mashed cauliflower. And this diabetes-friendly pie will be a welcome sight at dessert.