Low-Fat Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dishes
November 20, 2021 2:42 PM   Subscribe

My dad has unexpectedly put himself on a diet and needs a low to no fat Thanksgiving this year. My family is vegetarian and we typically eat all the best sides for dinner, but historically those all have butter and cheese in them because hello, that's what makes them yummy. Care to share some recipes for both dinner and dessert with us? Allergies: soy, coconut. Thank you!
posted by Hermione Granger to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
stuffed & roasted acorn squash has been a mainstay at my house for years - omnis, vegan, and veg all seem to like it! (stuffed with a sort of wild rice pilaf that i make up on the fly out of whatever is around - just roast the halves and spoon in the stuffing!)
posted by megan_magnolia at 2:45 PM on November 20 [5 favorites]

Yogurt parfait: non-fat yogurt, fruit and 1/4 cup of high-fiber cereal (GrapeNuts or somesuch). Healthy and tasty.
posted by SPrintF at 2:48 PM on November 20

In my opinion, you can't beat a big sheet tray of roasted vegetables spiced as simply or not as you like. I lean towards moroccan spices for this, but this oil free roasted vegetables technique from Minimalist Baker suggests curry (which also sounds good) and honestly just salt (if you're not also low salt) and pepper is pretty delicious.
posted by the primroses were over at 2:49 PM on November 20 [7 favorites]

The ShaneandSimple.com blog is great for very low-fat vegan dishes, and he has a whole section on holiday recipes.

I can personally attest to his sweet potato casserole being wonderful.
posted by FencingGal at 3:12 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]

This apple crumble is tasty, and very flexible as far as the fruit goes. I'd probably use cherries because they're a local specialty; you could try soaking dried cranberries in cider and mixing them with apples for a Thanksgiving-y reference.

For the main course, I would consider homemade yeast rolls and the kind of soup that involves roasted vegetables and an immersion blender (ginger carrot? roasted squash?)
posted by yarntheory at 3:17 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]

the best and laziest sweet potato preparation needs no fat:

take big sweet potatoes. wash them (don't peel.) wrap them up in a bundle of foil; put the bundle on a cookie sheet or in a pan to contain drips. Bake them in the oven a LONG time, like two hours; this is where the crazy caramel flavor comes from. Leave them til cool enough to handle. The peel will come off easily. Mash up with some orange juice (orange juice concentrate is best) and/or lemon zest and vanilla.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:46 PM on November 20

Steamed asparagus with vinaigrette.

Dessert: poached pears or apples (has all the sugar of the fruit, though).

Quorn roast, cooked so that it is very moist, maybe with a foil dome and some broth/sauce, maybe with a separate pan filled with water in the oven with it.

Any of a hundred recipes for green beans with tomatoes, some with garlic.

Wild rice.
posted by amtho at 4:07 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]

I made something akin to this lentil balti recipe for vegetarian Thanksgiving a few years ago by tweaking the spices just a little bit to more resemble pumpkin spice. It has some fat in it but it could probably be reduced and obviously you wouldn't want to use coconut oil.
posted by Candleman at 4:09 PM on November 20

Sounds like he should be doing the emotional labor of coming up with dishes.

vinaigrette is oil-based.

Jell-o. Add fruit to it if desired, top with marshmallow. Pure carbs.
posted by flimflam at 4:38 PM on November 20 [4 favorites]

Vinaigrette is oil + vinegar; you can reduce the amount of oil to almost zero, for asparagus or salad, or just use vinegar or lemon juice or...just salt :) It's delicious, salt is.
posted by amtho at 4:56 PM on November 20

Slow cooked green beans with caramelized onions and sundried tomatoes.

Chestnut stuffing with a combination of different breads including some pumpernickel and seeded breads, plenty of herbs and the best veggie stock you can muster.

Agreed about the sheet pan roasted root vegetables. We usually do a combination of carrots, parsnips, golden beets, and sweet potatoes, cut up into similarly sized chunks, tossed with a great amount of minced garlic and some rosemary, plus s&p and olive oil, though you could use a silpat and use less oil or maybe even some stock. Roast until throughly browned, toss, roast again. Crispy and delicious.

Roasted mushroom gravy needs a little fat but honestly not much. Thicken it with a cornstarch slurry instead of a roux and use some rehydrated shiitake for their massive flavor alongside whatever other shrooms you can get your hands on. If alcohol is okay, deglaze the roasting pan with cognac and toss in some sprigs of fresh thyme to be pulled out later. Put it your mushroom soaking liquid, your top notch veggie stock, and the chopped roasted mushrooms, simmer until everything has mingled and season to taste. Add the slurry and bring to a boil until thickened to your liking. At the table if you want you could have two gravy boats, one where you mix in a healthy amount of sour cream and one where you leave it as-is.

Whenever I’ve made homemade veggie stock and I’ve tossed in a good amount of kombu it’s been miles more delicious than without, even if it doesn’t seem like kombu would go with everything else. Also vital: leeks, parsley stems, onion peels.
posted by Mizu at 4:59 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sounds like he should be doing the emotional labor of coming up with dishes.

My father has been fatshamed his entire life and has always been very sensitive about people dictating what he should and should not eat. It has left him with a lot of guilt and anxiety about food. This Thanksgiving he is willingly letting my mom and I redo the menu to help him with this diet, which we are incredibly grateful for and glad to do because we love him and have been waiting until he was comfortable enough to ask for help.

Sometimes emotional labor means putting trust in the people around you after decades of being too ashamed to do so.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:01 PM on November 20 [38 favorites]

I just want to be sure whoever is making decisions is aware that the science largely recommends against low fat diets for healthy weight. (Not a randomized clinical trial but you can absolutely find the primary sources if you want to take the time.)

I've lost and kept off more than 80 pounds on a very low fat vegan diet and also normalized my blood pressure. The phrase "the science" erroneously gives the idea that there's only one legitimate point of view. There are plenty of scientists and physicians, in fact, who support this way of eating for weight loss and general health. Some of them even publish research.

More importantly, the OP has asked for recipes, not a critique of her father or his dietary choices.
posted by FencingGal at 6:20 PM on November 20 [18 favorites]

Susan Voisin's website - fat free vegan - may be helpful for you. I make her green bean casserole every thanksgiving, and it's excellent (it does call for soy products, but I think you could easily replace the soy creamer with oat milk and soy sauce with salt). I've only made a couple of her recipes but they've all been good and I bet she has a lot of recipes that could work for thanksgiving.

Stuffing is easy to make lower fat. I'd still sautee your veggies and such in a little oil, but with a good broth and enough seasoned onions/celery/tidbits, you don't need to use butter or eggs to get to a nice flavor and texture. If you usually include pecans, you could swap in chestnuts for a lower fat option.

You might think about a pavlova with autumn fruit compote for dessert. That could be made fat free, I think, and would be nice with a caramel sauce on top.

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes are your friend here too -- tons of roasted garlic and some good broth will yield tasty potatoes.

This harissa-sauced squash is excellent. The recipe calls for a lot of olive oil, but I've cut it down to maybe a tablespoon and have enjoyed the results, so, if this looks good to you, I think it's amenable to being tinkered with.
posted by snaw at 6:57 PM on November 20 [5 favorites]

For stuffing, I would highly highly recommend getting some TVP (textured vegetable protein). It can turn mushy easily while still having a somewhat meaty texture. Prime stuffing alternative material.
posted by defmute at 8:35 PM on November 20

Please make this cranberry-apple chutney that I know my family won’t let me swap into our thanksgiving table! I think it could also make a nice dessert used as the filling in a crumble.
posted by assenav at 10:32 PM on November 20

The Washington Post has some good ideas: Thanksgiving vegetarian and vegan mains that may eclipse that turkey

A vegetarian lasagne will be very low-fat and calories if you make it with a bechamel with low-fat milk or oat milk.
Make a soffritto with finely chopped onions, celery and carrot. Fry in a little olive oil till the onions are translucent and soft, not brown. Add crushed garlic to taste, stir a bit, and then add finely chopped eggplant. Stir a bit more, but again, you don't want any browning. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, and season with salt, pepper, oregano and a teaspoonful of balsamico. Let this simmer for a while. If it gets too thick and begins to stick to the pan, add water or vegetable stock.
Meanwhile, make a bechamel. Begin with equal amounts of butter/vegan butter and flour (about a tablespoon of each). Don't worry, remember a portion will only have an eighth of this fat. When the butter and flour are cooked through, add a pint of milk (low fat or oat milk) slowly while stirring vigorously. Bring to a simmer, still stirring, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste (be careful with the nutmeg). Add a cup of freshly grated parmesan or an other hard, strong cheese. It's important that it is freshly grated, because you don't want a lot, just a bit for taste. If using pre-grated cheese, only use half a cup. When both sauces are ready, layer the sauces with sheets of pasta as usual: red sauce, bechamel, pasta, red sauce, bechamel, pasta, etc. The last layer should be bechamel, so make sure you don't use too much in the other layers, there can just be dollops, not a whole cover. Maybe save a cup for the top layer. Bake at very high heat for 15-20 minutes. Then let it rest for 15 minutes so it sets a bit.
The whole idea is that each portion just has a tiny bit of fat, and it is very low in calories too, but it tastes like a classic holiday treat. Normally, the eggplant will absorb a lot of oil, but here they essentially cook in the tomato juices (and water/stock). And by using a very light bechamel instead of a soft cheese, you also cut a lot of fat.
posted by mumimor at 4:12 AM on November 21

Ups, I made a mistake above. It's half a cup of freshly grated cheese, and half of that if the cheese is pre-grated. Sorry about that, I'm translating from metric in my head.
posted by mumimor at 5:18 AM on November 21

And I just made this cauliflower cheese with low-fat milk (0.5%) and some of the cauliflower cooking water instead of full milk and it was delicious.
Again, I used an aged parmesan cheese, and much less than in the linked recipe. Because of the stronger flavor of the cheese, I could do with about half the amount.
posted by mumimor at 11:44 AM on November 21

I'm happy to see Susan Voisin's recipes listed above--they'll be a huge asset for you. Also note that the Engine 2 cookbooks are free from added oil/fat (so the only fats in the recipes are in the form of whole foods, i.e. nuts, avocado, etc.). There are a lot of E2-type recipes indexed online for specific holidays, including Thanksgiving. The E2 approach sprung out of the Cleveland Clinic's long term studies on diet and lifestyle impacts on chronic health conditions like diabetes and Chron's disease. I've got the latter and have been following this approach since being enrolled in a trial of it more than a decade ago. The food is great, I relearned how to cook without fats and oils, and there's nothing shameful about it--my Crohn's has been in almost complete remission since then so I'll never go back.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:47 AM on November 22

« Older Talk Turkey to Me!   |   Trying to find a particular artist, Google-fu... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments