Thanksgiving is not one of those times.
That said, it doesn't hurt to include Turkey Day dishes that are both delicious and incidentally, healthy. Homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts are all pretty solid choices, and a little bit of dark meat never hurt anybody. With some careful planning, you can add stuffing to that list, as well.
This Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffing is an adaptation of Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh's popular Food Network recipe. The original version was fairly lean to start out, and with a few tweaks, it came to a highly respectable 209 calories per serving, with around 6 grams of fat and 5.5 grams of fiber. Plus, it's delicious. Curse me for trotting out light cooking clichés, but no one will know it's a lean stuffing.
To healthy up the dish, I swapped sweet Italian turkey sausage in for breakfast sausage, reduced the meat quantity, drastically knocked back the butter, and increased the apple to make up for lost bulk. A Vidalia stood in for leeks, as well, because leeks are roughly a million dollars at my local Key Food. As always, changes are reflected here.
What's extra nice is these kinds of substitutions can be made in a lot of stuffing recipes. Frequently enough, there are so many flavors competing anyway, you never miss the butter and oil. (Note: my dad's stuffing excluded. He is the Paula Deen of Thanksgiving side dishes.) Give it a shot with your favorite, and see what happens.
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving, and go ahead and have that second piece of pie. It's okay. I promise.
- 10 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage (about 3 links)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium large Vidalia (sweet) onion, chopped
- 2 1/2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped (NOT peeled)
- 1 cup celery, chopped small
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 6 cups good whole wheat bread cubes
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups reduced sodium, low-fat chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Remove sausage from casings. Sauté in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned (about 10 minutes), breaking it up as it cooks. Spoon cooked sausage into a large mixing bowl. Melt butter in skillet. Add onion, apples, celery, and poultry seasoning, and saute until onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Kill the heat and stir in cranberries, sage, and rosemary. Pour into bowl with sausage. Add bread cubes and parsley and stir to combine. Gradually pour in broth, stirring until everything is moist (but not sopping). Season with salt and pepper.
Pour stuffing into 9x13 baking dish and bake 20 to 30 minutes, until top is browned and middle is hot. Serve to numerous rounds of applause.