Thanksgiving-How my family celebrates and mom’s sugar-free banana pudding

This week many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving with our families. For the first time in more than 12 years…I will be home in Haleyville with mine. I have always had to work on Thanksgiving and the day after. This year, I am blessed to have those 2 days off. I plan to spend it with my sweet Grandmother and parents (my brother and his family are coming on Saturday). I am looking forward to sitting around Grandma’s table surrounded by those I love. I’ve missed out on so many holidays through the years. it has been difficult to be away from them. I feel like a college kid counting down the days until Thanksgiving break 🙂

As I have said countless times, Grandma West is a phenomenal cook. She handled all of our big family meals growing up. For Thanksgiving she always prepared a feast…turkey and ham, her famous dressing and homemade rolls, corn, peas, my great-grandmother’s sweet potato casserole, mac and cheese, green beans, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, slaw, fruit salad, and every kind of desert you can imagine. Carb heavy, calorie laden, but oh so good!!!

Grandma isn’t able to cook anymore. I sure do miss eating those big meals. My mom handles the menu now and as much as she would like to prepare and serve the same dishes we grew up on, our families diet has changed drastically. 3 of us can’t eat sugar and we have to watch our carb intake too. So how do you feed a big family at the holidays and still find something everyone will eat? It takes some planning, let me assure you.

I’ll meet mom and dad at Cracker Barrel Thursday (my first Thanksgiving off and mom isn’t cooking ha!). Then on Saturday-when the family is together she is smoking chicken. We will have all kinds of healthy vegetables to go with it. The desert table will be sugar-free too. Before you feel sorry for us…this will be a fantastic meal! Sure we will miss some of the old staples but you learn to make adjustments and move on. And this year, it’s not about the food…it’s about enjoying time with GG.

Now if Grandma were cooking…she would tell you to sit down and eat up! As Lane says “she likes to feed her company to death.” He’s right 🙂 But for those of us who want to keep our weight in check…here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you sit down to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal. First, Don’t stress out…Second, don’t let your nerves get the best of you…and third, don’t punish yourself. Enjoy the day but try to make healthy choices.

The key to eating healthy during Thanksgiving is self-control (which I lack when it comes to home cooking). Don’t starve yourself the whole day and then overdo it at dinner. Eat breakfast when you get up and a light, early lunch. Keep a protein drink and protein bar handy to help keep hunger away.

If you’re the one cooking the Thanksgiving dinner, modify the recipes to reduce their calorie and fat contents. Whip up mashed potatoes with skim or low-fat milk instead of whole, and cut the amount of butter you add in half — if you add these ingredients at all. Use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream to top baked potatoes.

If you need a recipe to follow…try this one. It’s from my buddy Dawn.

Savory Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes

10 ½ oz russet potatoes, boiled and peeled

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 oz reduced-fat Neufchatel Cheese

1/8 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1 tsp light Smart Balance

1/8 tsp garlic, minced

1/8 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning

1/8 tsp dried sage

dash onion powder

sea salt (to taste)


1. Peel and cube potatoes, then boil for 20 minutes or until fork tender. et cool. ahead of peeling, cubing, and cooking in boiled water for 20 minutes until tender; drain.

Tip:I like to leave a few chunks of potato for added texture.

2. Using a potato masher or electric beater, slowly blend the rest of the ingredients into potatoes until smooth and creamy. Season with sea salt to taste.

Nutrition Facts:Calories 96, Fat 3.51g, Carbs 15.31g, Protein 3.29g

If you’re making a green bean casserole, don’t use creamy soups as a base, but instead opt for a water-based broth. Skip the high-calorie pecan pie and opt for a pumpkin pie instead.

If there are baked sweet potatoes, steamed beans and other vegetables, munch on those while waiting for the turkey to arrive or simply have them as side dishes.

Avoid appetizers, snacks and finger foods. These are usually high in fat and calories and won’t fill you up. Instead, save up the calories for the main dishes. Go easy on the stuffing too. A cup of homemade stuffing contains about 400 calories.

Let’s talk sweets. If you are in charge of the menu you can control the calorie and sugar content without sacraficing taste. None of your guests have to know they are eating healthy for Thanksgiving!! Best of all, you will get all the praise for these delicious treats and you won’t feel guilty.

My family has 3 sugar free favorites mom must fix around the holidays. I am sharing her recipes with you. The first is a sugar-free pumpkin pie, my brother’s favorite. The next is egg custard made with Splenda, my favorite. And sugar-free banana pudding, everybody’s favorite!!

I hope you all have a blessed holiday. Be safe if you are traveling and by all means…enjoy the time you have with those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Mom’s Happy Holiday Pumpkin Pie

1 prepared pie crust 1 teaspoon sugar free maple syrup

3/4 cup Splenda

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teasppon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 egg white

1/3 cup fat-free half-and-half

3 Tablespoons heavy cream

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend pumpkin puree, Splenda, cornstarch, spices and salt in medium bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well blended. In a separate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Stir well. Add to pumpkin mixture and stir well. Pour pumpkin filling into a prepared pie crust. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until set in the center and the crust is golden brown.

Egg Custard Pie

2 1/2 cups milk

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cups Splenda

pinch of salt

1 unbaked pie crust

Bring milk and sugar to boil. Add eggs. Add salt and vanilla. Pour hot milk over egg mixture slowly and mix well. Pour into pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Linda’s Creamy No-Cook Banana Pudding

1 large vanilla instant pudding mix, sugar free

1 large Cool Whip

1 box vanilla wafers

1 (8 ounce) sour cream (mom’s secret ingredient)

3-5 bananas

Mix sugar-free pudding with 2 cups cold milk until thick. Add Cool Whip and sour cream. Stir together. Layer bananas and wafers. Top with 1/3 pudding mixture. Put another layer of bananas and wafers. Add the remaining pudding. Top with whole wafers. Chill.

*you can also use dietary vanilla wafers

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2 Responses to Thanksgiving-How my family celebrates and mom’s sugar-free banana pudding

  1. Leigh says:

    Those all sound yummy I will be making the banana pudding I so can’t wait 🙂

  2. Josie says:

    Your recipes look delicious!! Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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