A gluttony-free Thanksgiving

If you’re looking to eat a hearty dinner without too much self-indulgence, try some of these recipes


Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you I’m no Martha Stewart.

Sticking my hand into the carcass of a bird wasn’t my idea of a fun Wednesday night, but I did it in preparation for hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner party this weekend.

I started with a test: five recipes, dozens of ingredients and one goal — a Thanksgiving meal that wasn’t reminiscent of an all-you-can eat contest gone awry.

The answer? Portion control and the elimination of face-stuffing ingredients. The challenge? How to maintain the home-cooked, rich Thanksgiving taste while keeping waistlines in mind. By opting for a roasted chicken over a turkey, quinoa over mashed potatoes, portion-controlled green beans, cider and of course, dessert, my Thanksgiving weekend is looking to be glutton-free.

Roast chicken

I’ll only be cooking for a couple of people this weekend, and determined to avoid food comas, I decided to break the cardinal rule of Thanksgiving food by roasting a chicken, allowing for smaller portions. With smaller size options and more flavour, roasting a chicken limits the drying of meat and can help cut back overusing gravy or cranberry sauce.


1 three-pound roasting chicken
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Black pepper and salt
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1 lemon
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat


1. Let chicken and 1 tbsp. butter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the giblets and excess fat from chicken cavity. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water. Dry chicken with paper towels.
2. Tuck the wing tips under the body. Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper.
Set aside.
3. In the centre of a heavy-duty roasting pan, place onion slices in two rows, touching. Soften the lemon by rolling it slowly back and forth, applying gentle pressure. Pierce entire surface of lemon with a fork. Insert garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs and lemon into cavity. Place chicken in pan on onion slices. Cut about 18 inches of kitchen twine, bring chicken legs forward, cross them and tie together.
4. Spread the softened butter over entire surface of chicken and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place in the oven, and roast until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and the juices run clear when pierced. Check back in about 45 minutes.
5. When chicken seems done, poke into it to ensure it’s cooked.
6. Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board. Let chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle.


Quinoa squash “stuffing”

Make it healthy by serving as a side dish and not as stuffing.


2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup quinoa rinsed
1 ½ cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
½ cup water
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups mushrooms,
finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 sage leaves, minced
2 cups of butternut
squash cubed
Zucchini, shaved
Two mint leaves (optional)
1 tbsp. of lemon zest
¼ cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a pot, boil the squash until tender. Drain and mash it into a paste.
2. While the squash is boiling heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a saucepan. Add half the onion and cook until softened. Add the quinoa, broth, water and rosemary, mint and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to
20 minutes.
3. In a skillet, heat remaining oil, and add rest of onion, mushrooms, celery, zucchini, corn and sage. Sauté until vegetables are soft and no more liquid from
mushrooms remains.
4. Toss mushroom mixture with cooked quinoa, along with the dried cranberries.
5. Add the squash and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the lemon zest.

Modified from onegreenplanet.org

Pumpkin Nutella snack cake

When I came across this recipe I was in disbelief that two of my favourite ingredients could be paired into one Thanksgiving-themed recipe. By pre-cutting the cake into small squares, you can easily limit your portion of this rich dessert.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. of cinnamon
½ tsp. fresh nutmeg
¼ tsp. ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup Nutella


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well-blended. Add the pumpkin purée. Reduce speed to low, and mix in the flour mixture until just combined.
4. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Drop Nutella all over the pumpkin cake batter. Swirl in gently with a knife.
5. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the sides pull away from the pan and a toothpick comes out clean. Place cake on a wire rack and cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.


Warm cider rum punch

The hero of the day was the cider punch. With flavours such as cinnamon, nutmeg and apples, it’s a Thanksgiving must.


4 cups apple cider
1 apple, thinly sliced crosswise
1 orange, thinly sliced crosswise
6 cinnamon sticks
4 mint leaves
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cups dark rum


1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients except rum. Boil on high; reduce to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Keep warm over low, up to 2 hours. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Transfer to a punch bowl; serve warm.

Modified from marthastewart.com

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.