Save Calories at Thanksgiving Dinner with This Stuffing Makeover

The average person eats 4,500 calories during Thanksgiving dinner. With leftovers, extra slices of pie and sitting on the couch while watching football, it’s easy to gain serious weight during the holiday season. Save your waistline this Thanksgiving without feeling deprived with healthier versions of the food you love.

Traditional stuffing is made with torn bread that is drenched in butter, herbs, spices and chopped vegetables. High in carbohydrates, calories and fat, stuffing is a side dish that can wreak havoc on a healthy lifestyle. Put your stuffing on a diet with this healthier version. Quinoa replaces the traditional bread, making it lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein. The butternut squash in the dish gives it a healthy dose of vitamin A and fiber, helping to keep you full. Finally, the cranberries and pistachios give it a sweet and salty taste that will make it a new family favorite.

Quinoa Pistachio Stuffing

Serves: 4-6 people
Preparation and Cooking Total: 45 minutes


1 white or yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 garlic cloves with peel still intact
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush lightly with olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss the onion, butternut squash and garlic together. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables until all are completely coated. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading evenly. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over the vegetables. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is softened and starting to brown on the edges. Remove it from the oven and set aside. Once the pan has cooled, remove the garlic cloves and discard.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and orange zest. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the quinoa for 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Fluff lightly with a fork and set aside until it has cooled to room temperature.

Once it has cooled, combine the squash mixture, quinoa, cranberries and pistachios in a large bowl. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve the stuffing immediately.

At Farmington Nutrition Counseling, we understand the temptations that come along with Thanksgiving. We are dedicated to helping our clients stay on track with their healthy lifestyles, without sacrificing the traditional foods of Thanksgiving.

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