There are so many different traditions for Thanksgiving stuffing or dressing (including whether or not the turkey is stuffed or the dressing is baked alongside the turkey). One of the more common recipes for stuffing or dressing is Cornbread and Sausage. It’s a savory/sweet side dish with Southern roots that’s happily eaten at Thanksgiving tables all over the country.

Let’s gather round the Thanksgiving table as we alter the traditional Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing a bit to make it a lighter, healthier and less caloric side dish to the main attraction. O.k., we didn’t just alter the stuffing recipe a little … we took the sausage completely out of the equation, while still allowing you and your guests to enjoy a savory and satisfying stuffing experience!

The history or stuffing (or dressing) may predate Roman civilization. The earliest recipes for stuffing can be found in a Roman cookbook that was written in the late 4th century AD. Recorded in this book were recipes for stuffed chicken, rabbit, pig and dormouse (which, believe it or not, was considered a delicacy in ancient Rome.) In these ancient Roman recipes, featured ingredients in stuffing were vegetables, herbs, nuts and ancient grains like spelt. It was not unusual to find various organ meats included like liver and brains.

In England prior to the sixteenth century, stuffing was called “farce”. Then in the Victorian era, it became known as dressing. Because stuffing was common in England prior to the establishment of the American colonies, it is easy to assume that the Pilgrims, after deciding to make the turkey the focal point of the first Thanksgiving feast, would have naturally chosen to stuff it.

And undoubtedly, after that first Thanksgiving, stuffing recipes have evolved pretty dramatically. Cornbread or white bread? Stuffed inside the bird, or baked alongside? Eggs or no eggs? There are plenty of competing methods for preparing the much-loved and traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing recipes abound and this is one of the most popular preparations at Thanksgiving in millions of homes.

Sadly, though, the typical Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing boasts over 500 calories per serving, with over 38 grams of fat (oh my) and over 900 mg of sodium. That nutritional data isn’t exactly side dish worthy. Put the stuffing next to your turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie and the numbers might actually resemble two or three full days of food consumption!

Stuffing really needs to lighten up a little. So here’s our suggestion:

6 corn muffins (prepared from a good organic mix, like Shiloh Farms), crumbled
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion diced
2 large diced Portobello mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried sage
Half teaspoon dried rosemary
2 cups hot vegetable broth
1 tablespoon almond butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Crumble the corn muffins into a large mixing bowl
3. Melt two tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan
4. Sauté vegetables and garlic until softened – 4 to 5 minutes
5. Add vegetables to crumbled corn muffins
6. Stir in the herbs gently, evenly distributing in the muffin-vegetable mixture
7. Stir the almond butter into the vegetable broth
8. Pour over the muffin-vegetable mixture a little at a time until moistened throughout. Use additional broth if necessary. Mixture should be moist, not overly wet and no liquid should be evident at the bottom of the bowl.
9. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Transfer dressing into dish and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Cover dish with foil.
10. Bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil and return to the oven to bake for another 30 minutes until brown.
11. (Or you can stuff your turkey with the unbaked mixture and roast your turkey as usual – adding additional time per pound for the stuffing as per your roasting instructions.)

Portobello mushrooms add a savory flavor to any dish and make for a very enjoyable stuffing without the additional fat and calories from sausage. This stuffing is about 100 calories per serving, only 4.4 grams of fat and 45 mg. of sodium.

While Cornbread Portobello Mushroom Stuffing certainly puts a new twist on tradition, it really is a rich and flavorful dish. Unusually “meaty” for a meatless side, you’ll find that this recipe makes for a great inside-the-bird stuffing or an equally great baked dressing.

Our invitation to dinner will be open until Thanksgiving Day! All month long, will be taking a look at better preparations for all our favorite holiday foods. By the time we reach the end of November, we’ll have a great meal planned that we’ll all be able to enjoy that fits easily within our healthy lifestyle! And don’t worry … we aren’t going to forget dessert!