Wellness for the Family: Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

With Thanksgiving just one week away, many of us are starting to get our recipes in order and our grocery lists made.

Before you hit the store, Michelle Dunaway and Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, show us some healthier versions of our favorite holiday classics.

Mini Pear-Almond Cheese Balls


  • 8 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium firm ripe pear, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. lemon rind
  • 1 scallion, white and green separated, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped toasted almonds


  1. Stir cream cheese, goat cheese, cheddar, pear, lemon rind, scallion white, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  2. Divide cheese mixture into 36 equal portions (about 2 teaspoons each), rolling to form 36 balls. Freeze 10 minutes.
  3. Just before serving, combine almonds and the reserved scallion greens in a shallow dish. Roll the cheese ball in the mixture, pressing to adhere. Serve immediately with crackers or veggies. Enjoy!


Kale and Butternut Squash Stuffing


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (omit for vegetarian)
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into 1/2- inch cubes
  • 3 small leeks, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 loaf stale whole-wheat bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth for vegetarian)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two small or one large casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage, if using. Cook until browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add butternut squash, leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook until leeks are soft, stirring occasionally. Add kale, cover, and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until wilted.
  4. Add bread and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, and toss to distribute oil. Whisk egg and chicken broth together in a separate bowl, and then add to pot. Toss bread mixture around to coat and cook for about a minute, until liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add stuffing to prepared casserole dish(es) and bake for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm. Enjoy!


Quick Baked Pears


  • 2 large pears
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or dried fruit mixture of your choice
  • ¼ cup low-fat granola
  • Vanilla frozen yogurt or low-fat whipped cream – optional


  1. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove core and seeds, creating a hollow space. Try using a melon baller or grapefruit spoon.
  2. Place pear halves, with hollowed core sides up, in a glass pie plate. Combine sugar and cinnamon with apple juice until sugar is dissolved. Carefully spoon mixture evenly and spread along each pear half.
  3. Combine dried fruit and granola; mound into hollows of the pear halves. Pour the apple juice in and around pear halves. Cover dish loosely with wax paper.
  4. Cook in microwave on HIGH 6-8 minutes or until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife. Let stand in the dish 5 minutes. You can also bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees F. Use a large spoon to transfer the pears to serving plates.
  5. Drizzle juices from pie plate over pears and serve with frozen yogurt or whipped cream. Enjoy!

For more tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle, click here.

Categories: Recipes, Wellness for the Family