Healthier Stuffing Variations for a Happy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without stuffing. The ultimate turkey partner, stuffing is almost universally loved, definitely expected on the table and served up in generous amounts.
And while stuffing will never be a diet food, the healthy cook has many opportunities to keep the high-fat ingredients in check while adding high-fiber and nutrient-dense elements that are delicious and better for you. Here are a few places to make some healthy changes:
Seasoned breadcrumbs form the base of traditional stuffing. (We love rice stuffing too, but it is not necessarily a healthier choice.) To lighten up, use whole wheat bread for your crumbs, use a higher ratio of chopped vegetables (celery, leeks, mushrooms, onions) to bread and, of course, substitute up to 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs with Kretschmer Toasted Wheat Germ.
Butter and oils
Modern stuffing recipes rarely call for a full stick of butter, but often half a stick (4 tablespoons) finds its way in to the baking dish, especially if you grease the pan with it. Check out our butter-free recipe here and see how well olive oil does the trick in moist and delicious stuffing recipes. Our editorial advisory board member Liz Della Croce recommends that instead of using butter or oils, sauté chopped bacon (lardons) in a pan and then use the grease for sautéing all the other vegetables. This adds lots of flavor without the extra fat.
Used often in older stuffing recipes, eggs create a rich, dense stuffing and serve as a binder to hold everything together. However, many of us trying to reduce the fat in our recipes have delicious stuffing results without them.
No question that meats such as bacon, ham and sausage add tons of flavor to stuffing. The tip here is to keep your meat measurement on the small side, especially cured meats, which have a very concentrated flavor. Supplement with other flavorful vegetables like butternut squash, shallots and portobello mushrooms.