Thanksgiving Meal Planning + Potato Recipe and Pumpkin Dip Recipe

11 Nov

Happy Veteran’s Day and Friday to you all!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I can’t wait.  I’m not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving, but I am finding the older I get, the more I’m starting to enjoy it.  I like searching for the perfect recipes and spending the day in the kitchen creating lots of amazing eats with loved ones.  That is of course after our morning rituals of working out, hitting up the grocery store for newspapers (got to love black Friday ads) and watching the Macy’s parade!

Today, I am going to highlight two of the recipes Keith and I will be having.  But first, this is what our Thanksgiving menu looks like right now (it could change over the next two weeks):

Pre Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Easy homemade cinnamon caramel sticky buns  <—The best ever! 
  • Pumpkin dip served with apples and graham crackers

Thanksgiving Dinner:

  • Turkey breast  (I’m still searching for the perfect recipe)
  • Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing (I’m still searching for the perfect recipe)
  • Classic green bean casserole  <—Keith’s favorite and must have dish
  • Bread of some sort (more than likely a roll)
  • Apple or pumpkin pie (we haven’t decided on this yet and if we even need dessert since we are having sticky buns in the morning)

We normally do a giant green salad but decided this year to skip it since most people just eat a little bit to get it over with before heading onto the traditional Thanksgiving menu items.  Since it is just going to be Keith and I this year, we want to keep the menu simple yet good and also not go overboard with food since we wont be able to eat it all (unless we want to be eating Thanksgiving food for weeks).

Since we wont be eating our standard foods on this day, I’ll be making extra sure to keep with my healthy eating and workouts the week prior to Thanksgiving and plan my cheat meal into the holiday day as opposed to the weekend when I normally indulge.  By doing this, I can enjoy the holiday guilt free and not have to worry about how many cinnamon caramel sticky buns I enjoy!  Remember, you want to eat the foods that look most appealing to you, and to stop eating when you first starting feeling the slightest bit full (or even earlier).  Do not use the holiday as an excuse to throw your healthy habits out the window and stuff yourself until you’re sick or to binge on food.


Now, onto the recipes

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (adapted from


Keith and I first made these mashed potatoes on our first anniversary back in August.  We knew immediately we wanted to make them for Thanksgiving and have been waiting to make them ever since.

Servings:  8

Ready in:  1 Hour 10 Minutes


  • 1 medium head of garlic (we used 4 small)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2lbs russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (we used 3lbs and cut them in 2 inch pieces)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened (we used 5 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup milk (we used 3/4 cups milk)
  • salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle garlic with olive oil, then wrap in aluminum foil.  Bake in preheated oven for one hour.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes (it took us about 20-25 minutes).  Drain, cool and chop.  Stir in butter, milk, salt and pepper.  Remove the garlic from the over, and cut in half (we didn’t).  Squeeze the softened cloves into the potatoes.  Blend potatoes with an electric mixer (I used our Kitchen Aid) until desired consistency is achieved. 

Pure perfection!


Pumpkin Dip

(Slightly adapted from

Yields:  6 cups


  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 6 ounces 0% Greek yogurt (you can use vanilla flavored if you like or plain/vanilla regular yogurt.  Using the Greek yogurt will add protein to this dip)
  • 8 ounces cool whip (you can chose any kind you like such as fat free)


1.  Mix pumpkin with brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin pie seasoning. 

2.  Mix in yogurt.

3.  Fold in cool whip and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. 

Serve with your favorite fruits such as apple wedges, graham crackers, ginger snaps, wafers or whatever else sounds appealing!

Before I go, I want to leave you with some tips on how to make this Thanksgiving your healthiest one ever (taken from the American Counsel of Exercise):


How Can I Have a Healthier Thanksgiving?

by Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD

With Thanksgiving Day right around the corner, you may have begun considering what you’re going to contribute to the feast. As we all know, the day is famous for its indulgences and, for many, an annual ritual to overeat and then lounge lazily for the rest of the day watching football games, napping, and spending time with family and friends.

This holiday is a little bit of a challenge for highly health conscious individuals. After all, if you show up to the feast with a dressing-free salad and whole wheat dry rolls, you might be turned away at the door. And, honestly, a once-per-year day of overeating most likely isn’t going to sabotage your diet plans, though sustaining this eating behavior throughout the holiday season could lead to a few extra unwanted pounds to lose in the New Year.

The good news is that there are some simple changes you can make to your Thanksgiving plans this year that will save you some calories (without sacrificing taste or your reputation) and add some fun to your holiday.

  1. Fit it all on one plate. Prevent over-stuffing yourself by fitting your Thanksgiving feast all on one plate (This works best if you don’t use an oversized plate filled to the brim). Sample small portions and avoid going back for seconds. If you’re tempted to return for more, give yourself 20 minutes (about how long it takes to feel full) first.
  2. Eat slowly. Thanksgiving foods are likely to be richer and more filling than your everyday fare, so eat slowly and savor every bite.
  3. Enjoy the company of family and friends. Socialize during your meal and festivities. You can’t eat and talk at the same time — so the more conversation you enjoy, the less you’ll eat.
  4. Get moving. Sign up for a local Turkey Trot 5K or 10K and spend your Thanksgiving morning getting some exercise. Not only will you burn some calories, but you’ll also enjoy some holiday fun!
  5. Make some easy Turkey day substitutions. For example:
    • Eat the white meat without the skin instead of the dark meat with skin and shave off 190 calories.
      Turkey — white meat, no skin (6oz): 180 calories, 3g fat
      Turkey – dark meat, with skin (6oz): 370 calories, 20g fat
    • Make your own cranberries rather than the jellied stuff and save 120 calories.
      Cranberries (boiled in sugar) (1/2 cup): 100 calories, <1g fat
      Jellied cranberry sauce (1/2 cup): 220 calories, <1g fat
    • Cut the marshmallows on your sweet potatoes and instead add a little bit of spice to save 100 calories.
      Sweet potatoes, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (2/3c): 200 calories, 3g fat
      Candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows (2/3c): 300 calories, 3g fat
    • Skip the green bean casserole and instead just steam some green beans and cut 110 calories.
      Steamed green beans (1/2C): 20 calories, <1g fat
      Green bean casserole (1/2C): 130 calories, 7 g fat
    • Choose pumpkin pie over the pecan pie for dessert and decrease your caloric intake by 160 calories.
      Pumpkin pie (1/8 pie): 340 calories, 15g fat
      Pecan pie (1/8 pie): 500 calories, 25g fat
    • Add it all up and you find that you’ve saved yourself 650 calories.
      More Healthy Total: 850 calories, 23g fat
      Less Healthy Total: 1500 calories, 56g fat

There are 3,500 calories in a pound, so if you calculate the calorie savings from these substitutions, you will find that you saved yourself nearly ¼ pound weight gain! That’s not including the other four other tips above that will help you eat less and move more and save yourself from holiday weight gain. Try adding a few new traditions to your holiday this year with some healthy Thanksgiving Day recipes.



  • What is your favorite go to Thanksgiving recipe?
  • What are you planning on making for Thanksgiving?
  • What is your favorite non food related thing to do on Thanksgiving?



11 Responses to “Thanksgiving Meal Planning + Potato Recipe and Pumpkin Dip Recipe”

  1. Lisa @ Healthy Diaries November 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Great tips! I usually have a little bit of everything without overdoing it too much!

    My oldest sister always has the entire family at her house so I look forward to it. My husband & I are in charge of Easter dinner!

    Have a great weekend!

    • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life November 14, 2011 at 10:32 am #


      It must be fun having the whole family over for Easter! I would probably get so excited each year to host that holiday! I love Easter!

  2. Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers November 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    I typically go overboard on Thanksgiving. Green bean casserole and stuffing are my favorite things, but loading up on those is never diet-friendly. Of course, the glasses of wine I have don’t help either. haha

    • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life November 14, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      I’m going to miss wine this year! I usually drink champagne during the day while preparing all the food and then swtich to red wine once everything is ready!

  3. Erica November 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    We just started planning! Loveeee that pumpkin dip- seiously addictive! My moms cranberry is my favorite part hands down!

  4. Heather November 12, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Yum, that pumpkin dip sounds so good! My favorite thanksgiving dish is my mom’s squash casserole. So good. I love running early in the morning, not many people are out in the morning so it’s peaceful to me! Thanks for the recipes!

  5. the wicked noodle November 17, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    This looks incredible! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Dip recipes November 29, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    Making variations with this kind of recipe is easy by adding some ingredients like ham or bacon even cheeses and herbs.


  1. Another Holiday Recipe(Cinnamon Caramel Rolls) and a quick Wednesday Recap « - November 17, 2011

    […] week, I shared with you two recipes we will be having on Thanksgiving (pumpkin dip and roasted garlic mashed potatoes).  This week I have the most amazing cinnamon and caramel sticky bun recipe.  These rolls […]

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