How can I make my holiday dinners healthy and delicious?

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Dear Robyn,

My husband and I just bought a house this summer, so we are hosting our first Thanksgiving. [Various family members] will be joining us. Now my mother usually cooks a dinner of turkey, sweet potato pie, green been casserole (with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions), mashed potatoes (with cream or at l least whole milk), creamed spinach, cornbread stuffing, chicken soup, etc And then come the desserts - chocolate silk pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, ice cream, etc...

Now that I'm fueling, this is not the kind of meal I want to eat. Also, I'm trying to convince my parents (my mom and dad both have type 2 diabetes, both are overfat, and my mom has recently had run-ins with colitis and breast cancer) that they don't have to give up wonderful food in order to fuel their bodies and be healthy. I do need to convince them that it won't kill them to give up the "lard" (as they so jokingly call it) that they love so much.

Do you have any ideas or cookbooks where I can find recipes for a high carb, low fat, totally yummy thanksgiving meal that my parents will eat?


-Toni R.



What a wonderful letter and question. I am so pleased when people are thinking along these lines. I applaud your commitment to your family, and to producing real change even beyond your own table.

First, check out the Sensational Stuffing recipe on my site. :) Second, check out these cookbooks: The Peaceful Palate, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, Main Dish Soups, and actually the whole rest of the Moosewood Line. I think Moosewood may have a holiday book, too. I don't offhand know of a "fueling"worthy cookbook that focuses ONLY on Thanksgiving (great idea, though!) but I know you can get recipes and ideas from bits and pieces out of these books. Some are available out of my bookstore on my site, and you can read more about them there.

I put on a wonderful vegetarian Thanksgiving feast for us and veg friends, and it's fairly simple, yet absolutely delicious and full and hearty. You could add many of our courses to your dinner. We have baked sweet potatoes, my sensational stuffing (a main dish for us, with vegetarian sausage or tofu and many other goodies), fresh steamed/sauteed/roasted vegetables, fresh breads, pumpkin soup, roasted delicata squash, and apple, berry and/or peach cobblers (these are out of The Peaceful Palate!) with various frozen yogurt and frozen soy desserts. Here are our own holiday menus. It might be inspiring. You need not mimic it completely, but you could use it as a starter point.

It really isn't hard to find fabulous breads, or to cook veggies in a luscious yet not-too-greasy-way, or to find/make awesome rich desserts that no one would know were low-fat. Please see the Food Brand Recommendations page of my site for specifics. If you have more questions, feel free to write.

Thanks and Happy Holidays to all,

Robyn :)


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