New Jersey Bariatric Center
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NJBC Eats: Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

By NJBC Registered Dietitians | November 20, 2020


With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s a great time to share some of our favorite and healthy holiday recipes. Below you will find appetizer ideas, a bariatric-friendly stuffing, some roasted veggies and a low-carb, low-sugar pumpkin dessert.



Appetizer: Mini Turkey Meatballs - Karen Kelly, RD

Who says turkey is just for the main course? These mini meatballs are easy to make, are filled with veggies and packed with protein. 


  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 8oz mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning


  1. Add mushrooms, onions and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until fully minced. Transfer the mixture to a pan with 2 tbsp olive oil and cook until soft. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  3. Add the breadcrumbs and spices to the cooled vegetable mixture, then add the ground turkey. Gently mix until combined. Roll the mixture into mini meatballs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 18 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165F. 

Some other lower-calorie appetizers include shrimp cocktail, veggie and hummus platters, and deviled eggs.

Side Dish: Roasted Veggies - Dana Babeu, RD

Since my extended family won’t be getting together as we usually do this Thanksgiving, we’ve decided to do a recipe swap instead. I am always asked to bring roasted veggies to dinner and while I may choose slightly different varieties from year to year, the preparation is always the same. Here’s my go-to recipe for roasted veggies, I hope you try it and make it part of your healthy Thanksgiving tradition.


  • 1 cup sweet potato, peeled and 1” diced
  • 1 cups parsnips, peeled and 1” diced
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered depending on how large they are
  • 2 cups white or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 1 cup red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup sweet onion, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, 2 tablespoons finely chopped (can substitute 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon good quality salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil. 
  2. Prep vegetables and place into 2 large mixing bowls. In one bowl, combine sweet potato and parsnips. In a separate bowl combine Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, pepper and onion. 
  3. In a measuring cup, stir together olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle or spoon equally over 2 bowls of veggies and stir to coat. 
  4. Pour contents of potato/parsnip bowl onto one baking sheet and spread out evenly in a single layer. 
  5. Pour the contents of the remaining bowl onto the second baking sheet and spread out evenly in a single layer. 
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes. 
  7. Check for doneness. Veggies are done when slightly browned and caramelized. The parsnip and sweet potato tray will require an additional 15-20 minutes cooking time. 
  8. When all vegetables are done, toss together and serve. 

Side Dish: Cauliflower Stuffing - Clarissa Padua, RD

A Thanksgiving meal is not complete without the stuffing. However, typical stuffing can be high in carbohydrates and calories, delaying your weight loss process. Substituting bread for cauliflower gives you a traditional Thanksgiving stuffing that’s lower in carbohydrates and guilt-free with loads of flavor.


  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • ½  large onion, sliced 
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Kale, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup carrots, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning blend (sage, thyme, rosemary) 
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 1/2 c. low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • ⅓ cup almond Flour 
  • 4oz parmesan cheese 


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to pan, or line with foil and grease with cooking spray
  2. In a large bowl, stir together and combine chopped cauliflower, onions, celery, carrots, eggs, and garlic. Mix in olive oil, poultry seasoning (sage, thyme, rosemary), sea salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle in almond flour and cheese; stir to combine.
  3. Spread the mixture in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. (You may need two sheets depending on the size). Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft and cauliflower is starting to brown a little.
  4. Whisk together fresh parsley, kale, pistachios, chicken broth in a bowl. Add and mix in gently to the pan
  5.  Roast for 10-15 more minutes, until broth is absorbed and makes dish tender, the pistachios are lightly toasted, cauliflower and onions are reasonably browned.  

Dessert: Low-Carb Pumpkin Bars - Kelly Beneduce, RD

Pumpkin is a very popular Fall flavor that is used in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory. Pumpkin is a winter squash that actually has many different health benefits. It’s rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, it’s low in calories and is a great source of fiber. Pumpkins are also high in antioxidants which help our body protect against cancer and chronic illnesses. Most sweet pumpkin recipes have a lot of sugar added so I decided to create a delicious pumpkin dessert that’s great for Thanksgiving and is lower in carbohydrates and sugar.


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ⅔ cup Splenda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup Swerve confectioners blend
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp half and half


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper.   
  2. Using a small bowl, melt together the cream cheese and vegetable oil in the microwave or broiler on the stove. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, cream cheese/vegetable oil mixture, eggs, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. In another bowl, stir together the almond flour, Splenda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer until combined.
  6. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  

Cream Cheese Frosting:  

  1. To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese, Swerve powdered blend, vanilla extract, and half and half.  Let the bars cool completely before cutting and frosting. 


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