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November 4, 2016

Give Thanksgiving Dinner a Healthy Makeover

The average person eats an estimated 4,500 calories – that’s more than double the daily recommendation – at a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, according to the Calorie Control Council.

ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca Dietician Shares Recipes

The average person eats an estimated 4,500 calories – that’s more than double the daily recommendation – at a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, according to the Calorie Control Council.

Since the big day is fast approaching, it is now a good time to start planning some healthier alternatives to a few holiday staples. Anne Menzies, registered dietitian at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca, shares these recipes to make some holiday favorites a bit healthier:

Green Bean Casserole
This is a holiday staple for many families.


  • 6 tsp. of oil, divided
  • 4 cups sliced onion, 2 large
  • Pepper to taste1 ¼ lb fresh green beans, stems trimmed, cut into 1 ½ inch lengths, or one 16 oz pkg frozen green beans, preferably Frenched green beans green beans, 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (8 oz. package)
  • 2 Tbsp. All-purpose flour
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup plain bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 8 x 11 ½ inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Add onions and salt, cook stirring often until tender and light golden, 20-25 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary and add a little water if onions brown too quickly. Transfer to a medium bowl and season with pepper. Rinse and dry skillet.

Meanwhile, if using fresh green beans, steam or boil until crisp tender, 5 to 7 minutes. If using frozen, cook according to package directions. Drain beans and refresh under cold running water.

Heat 2 tsp. oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring or shaking pan from time to time, until browned and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir for a few seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Simmer, stirring until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream, soy sauce and pepper. Stir in green beans.   Spread green bean-mushroom mixture in prepared baking dish. Top with caramelized onions. Mix breadcrumbs and remaining 2 tsp. oil in a small bowl, sprinkle over onions.  (Casserole can be prepared ahead. Cover and refrigerate for up to two days).

Bake casserole, uncovered, until heated through and topping is golden and crisp about 25 to 35 minutes.

Makes about eight ¾-cup servings.

Mashed Cauliflower
This is a healthier option to replace traditional mashed potatoes:


  • Raw cauliflower – 1 medium head makes about a pound of florets
  • Any combination of butter, milk, whatever you use when you make mashed potatoes – about ¼ cup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Instant mashed potatoes, add up to ¼ cup for texture
  • 2 minced garlic cloves or you could use 1 tsp. garlic powder


Break the cauliflower up into florets or just chop. Steam this or boil until it is tender: a fork should easily pierce it. Drain and put in mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to the consistency of mashed potatoes.

You should get about four servings per one pound of cauliflower.

Winter Vegetable Trio
This recipe makes a nice, healthier addition to your holiday table.


  • 1 ½ cups chopped parsnips
  • 1 ½ cups chopped carrot
  • 1 ½ cups halved Brussels sprouts
  • ½ cup sliced sweet onion
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt free seasoning if desired
  • Black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted


Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Toss parsnips, carrot, Brussels sprouts and onion with oil; season. Roast vegetables on a baking sheet until fork-tender, 20-25 minutes.

Whisk together vinegar, Dijon, and thyme; pour over roasted vegetables, add walnuts and toss.

Makes about 10 servings.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.