This Thanksgiving, try these healthier versions of traditional sides, from Liberty Wellness Works, and check out the nutrition trips from nutritionist John Fairchild.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Apples and Turkey Sausage (Eating Well)


  • 1 1/4 cups wild rice (8 ounces)
  • 4 cups cubed Jewish rye bread (1/2-inch cubes), preferably day-old
  • 1 pound sweet turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 2 tart apples, cut into 1/4-inch dice (Honey Crisp, Rome, Mcintosh, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place rice in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by about 1 1/2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until tender, about 1 hour. (Or prepare according to package directions.) Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, spread bread on a baking sheet; bake, stirring once halfway through, until dry and crisp, about 25 minutes.
  4. Increase oven temperature to 425°. Coat a 3- to 4-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  5. About 15 minutes before the rice is done, cook sausage and leeks in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until the sausage is browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add apples and celery; cook for 3 minutes more.
  6. Transfer the sausage mixture to a large bowl. Add the rice and bread, then stir in broth, cherries, pecans, marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and cover tightly with foil.
  7. Bake the stuffing for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is browned, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare rice (Step 2), cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days; toast bread (Step 3), cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.


Per serving: 290 calories; 9 g fat ( 1 g sat , 4 g mono ); 24 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrates; 5 g added sugars; 13 g protein; 5 g fiber; 523 mg sodium; 339 mg potassium.

Acorn Squash

The deeper the yellowish orange color of the flesh, the sweeter it is.

 Harvested when fully ripe, the average acorn squash weighs from one to three pounds. Any larger and you risk getting a dry, stringy squash. A good balance between green and orange coloring is optimum. When comparing, be aware that lighter weight ones have lost moisture through the skin and will be drier. Only cut or cooked acorn squash should be refrigerated. They will suffer chill damage at temperatures below 50 degrees F. Before freezing, acorn squash must be cooked.

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.

2 Using a strong chef’s knife, and perhaps a rubber mallet to help, cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don’t burn and the squash doesn’t get dried out.

3 Brush on a teaspoon of maple syrup to each half.

Grade A Light Amber (or Fancy) is very light in color and has a faint, delicate maple flavor.
Grade A Medium Amber is darker and has an easily discernible maple flavor.

Grade A Dark Amber is very dark and has a strong maple flavor. Mostly used for cooking and baking.
Grade B, sometimes called Cooking Syrup, extremely dark in color and has an extremely strong maple taste as well as hints of caramel. Because of its strong flavor, this is predominantly used in baked goods.

4 Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not under cook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any liquid that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

Pumpkin Mousse


  • 2 small packages of instant sugar-free vanilla pudding (butterscotch)
  • 2 cups of no-fat (skim) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice (allspice)
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 8 ounces of fat-free Cool Whip


  1. Make pudding first with the 2 cups of skim milk.
  2. Fold in the rest of the ingredients – spice, pureed pumpkin and Cool Whip.
  3. Serve!

Calories 102 Total Fat 4.9g Total Carbohydrates 13.2g Sugars 7.6g Protein 2.0g

Nutrition Tips

Wild Rice

Wild rice is significantly richer in protein than white rice or most other grains. It is high in complex carbohydrates and is a good source of fiber. In contrast, its sodium content is refreshingly low and one serving offers 10 percent of the U.S. RDA for iron.
Wild rice has nearly twice the amount of fiber per serving than brown rice
Grain producing grass – Wild rice is the edible grain of the plant

Bring 1 cup of wild rice to boil in 3 cups of water or stock.  Cover and simmer for 50 minutes, until kernels blossom, turning puffy and tender.  Drain, and season to taste

Winter Squash Varieties

Winter squash can be harvested very late into the fall, has a longer storage potential, and still provides an outstanding variety of nutrients. Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, potassium, fiber and manganese. In addition, winter squash is a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin-vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid.

Here are some great squashes to choose from:

Acorn Squash is a nutty and delicious selection, easy to prepare, and can be cut in half and stuffed for a meal all on its own. When choosing, the rind should be hard and dull, not shiny or soft. Choose the firmest and heaviest of the selection to ensure that it’s fresh and has good flavor.

Banana Squash is so large that grocers usually cut into smaller chunks before putting it out. It’s tasty, but its biggest virtue is the beautiful golden color of its flesh.

Buttercup Squash has a sweet, creamy orange flesh. It can be a bit dry. To select the best, choose specimens that are heavy for their size.

Butternut Squash is easy to use and a popular selection. The rind is thin enough to peel off with a vegetable peeler. It has a sweet, pleasantly nutty flavor.

Delicata Squash is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like sweet potatoes. Choose squash that are heavy for their size.

Golden Nugget Squash has a pleasant flavor, but it doesn’t have as much flesh as other squashes and the heavy rind makes it hard to cut before cooking. Select specimens that are heavy for their size, and that have a dull finish. Those with shiny rinds were probably picked too young, and won’t be as sweet.

Hubbard Squash has tasty flesh, but it’s too large for many families to hand and the rind is hard to cut though. Some grocers cut them into smaller pieces before putting them out.

Kabocha Squash taste similar to sweet potatoes, and are the richest and creamiest of all the squash. After cooking, you don’t even have to remove the skin. Kabocha is actually the generic name used for the different varieties of Japanese winter squash.

Spaghetti Squash provides long yellow strands that you can pull out with a fork once it’s cooked. These strands resemble spaghetti but taste like squash, providing “noodles” that can serve as a low-calorie substitute for pasta.


Antioxidant rich in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health.

Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protect against heart disease.

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts
(1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)

Calories 49
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Vitamin A 2650 IU
Vitamin C 12 mg
Potassium 564 mg
Folate 21 mcg

The top pumpkin production states are Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California. In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling. Pumpkins are fruit. A pumpkin is not a vegetable; it’s a fruit! In fact, it’s a berry-botanically.


Avoid any turkey with the words “enhanced,” “self-basting,” or “marinated in natural broth solution” anywhere on the packaging. You can also check the Nutrition Facts panel. Non-enhanced turkey typically contains between 55 and 65 milligrams of sodium. If the sodium count is any higher than that, it’s likely the bird contains extra sodium or phosphorous. Or go organic; although the USDA allows these additives in turkeys labeled “all-natural,” phosphate, potassium, and other brining solutions are not allowed in certified-organic turkeys.


  • Thaw in Refrigerator
  • Cook to 160 degrees and let stand for 20-30 minutes (check inner thigh then breast)
  • Season under skin and inside cavity
  • Use giblets for gravy (don’t use liver and can use neck)
  • After one hour, cover breasts (cooks faster) with foil (bike seat shape)
  • Use a fat separator for gravy