We know, messing with tradition can be dangerous – especially when it involves relatives.
But, when it comes to traditional stuffing on Thanksgiving, recipes can be full of fat from sausage, butter and even heavy cream. One option is to try a healthy stuffing recipe rich with whole grains and flavored with fruit and nuts. It’s better for you, but still full of flavor.
Option 1: An alternative recipe
The bulgur stuffing with dried cranberries and hazelnut recipe (see below) features bulgur, a derivative of wheat. Bulgur is the kernel of wheat, cracked for cooking. It has a nutty flavor and is full of fiber.
“The nutrition in 1 cup cooked bulgur and 1 cup of cubed bread is fairly close,” said Rhonda Seifert, a registered dietitian at Marshfield Clinic.
Bulgur has more protein and fiber and a few more calories than bread, but it’s not a big difference, she said. This recipe is much lower in fat than traditional stuffing.
Option 2: Make healthy changes to your recipe
If you aren’t ready for a new recipe, you can make your favorite stuffing healthier with some easy substitutions.
“For instance, the difference between pork and turkey sausage is fairly significant,” Seifert said. Pork has 8 grams of fat per ounce and turkey has 3 grams of fat per ounce.
Butter and olive oil have the same amount of fat per serving; however, olive oil doesn’t have any saturated fat, which is better for heart health, Seifert said.
Also, substitute whole wheat or multi-grain bread for white bread crumbs. You won’t save calories, but you’ll get more fiber and flavor.
If your recipe calls for white rice, substitute brown rice, quinoa or a combination of the two. Here’s why:
- One cup of cooked white rice has 267 calories and almost 59 grams of carbohydrates, but no dietary fiber.
- One cup of cooked brown rice has 218 calories, about 46 grams of carbs and 3.5 grams of fiber.
- One cup of cooked quinoa has 222 calories, 39 grams of carbs, 5.2 grams of fiber and almost double the protein (8.1 grams) of either white or brown rice.
Bulgur Stuffing with Dried Cranberries and Hazelnuts
Prep time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10, 3/4 cup each
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups chopped onions, (2 large)
- 1 cup chopped celery, (2-3 stalks)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 cups bulgur, rinsed (see ingredient note)
- 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2/3 cup chopped hazelnuts, (2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and celery; cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, cinnamon and allspice; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add bulgur and stir for a few seconds. Add broth, bay leaf and salt; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the bulgur is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine dried cranberries and orange juice in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes. (Alternatively, bring dried cranberries and orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan on the stove top and remove from heat.) Set aside to plump.
Toast hazelnuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until light golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. When the bulgur is ready, discard the bay leaf. Add the cranberries, toasted hazelnuts, parsley and pepper; fluff with a fork.
Make ahead: The stuffing will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, place in a baking dish and add ½ cup water. Cover and microwave on high for 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
To stuff a turkey, prepare the recipe and let cool completely. Place about 5 cups of the stuffing loosely in turkey cavities; heat the remainder separately. Note: If you cook the stuffing inside the turkey, use a food thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165 F. This reduces the risk of food poisoning, according to foodsafety.gov.
Each serving contains about 210 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 2 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 7 g fiber; 114 mg sodium; 269 mg potassium.