Sausage Cranberry Stuffing

Around Thanksgiving time, I tend to get inundated with questions asking if I have a recipe for low-carb stuffing. My response is always the same: My idea of low-carb stuffing is eating plenty of turkey; plenty of salad, coleslaw or other healthy, low-carb sides; and just a little bit of stuffing made with real whole wheat bread. Here, I lower the carbs even further by adding a generous amount of turkey sausage and lots of celery and onions, and help you fill up by using whole-wheat bread instead of white. Just be sure to pick a fluffy whole-wheat bread, not a grainy one.

butter-flavored cooking spray
12 slices whole-wheat bread (about 70 calories per slice)
olive oil cooking spray
1 lb lean chicken or turkey sweet Italian sausage, uncooked and unshaped
1½ C finely chopped sweet onion
1 C finely chopped celery
1 T minced fresh garlic
½ C dried cranberries
1 T finely chopped fresh sage
1¼–1½ C fat-free lower-sodium (not low-sodium) chicken broth, divided
2 T light butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly mist a 2½- to 3-quart ovenproof ceramic or glass casserole dish with butter-flavored cooking spray.

Place the slices of bread side by side in a single layer (they should not overlap) on a large nonstick baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 14–16 minutes per side, until the slices are dry (not at all soft in the center), but not more than very lightly browned.

Meanwhile, place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, lightly mist it with olive oil cooking spray and put in the sausage mixture. Cook, breaking the sausage into bite-sized chunks, until no longer pink, 3–5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl.

Turn the heat to medium, respray the pan and put in the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, and then add the celery and garlic. Continue cooking until the celery is bright green and starts to soften slightly, 7–10 minutes. Add the celery mixture to the sausage.

Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.

When the bread is cooled enough to touch, cut each slice into nine squares.

Add the bread, cranberries and sage to the sausage mixture and stir until well combined. Drizzle 1 cup broth slowly over the top and stir it in until the liquid is absorbed. Slowly drizzle the butter over the top and stir that in.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared casserole dish. Drizzle the remaining ¼ cup broth for a drier stuffing or ½ cup for a moister stuffing over the top. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 10–15 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and the stuffing is hot throughout. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Makes about 7 cups and serves 10.

Per serving (heaping ⅔ cup): 205 calories; 15 g protein; 29 g carbohydrates; 4 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 32 mg cholesterol; 4 g fiber; 538 mg sodium.
Traditional version: 514 calories; 16 g protein; 27 g carbohydrates; 38 g fat; 8 g saturated fat; 56 mg cholesterol; 2 g fiber; 924 mg sodium.
You save 309 calories; 34 g fat; 7 g saturated fat.

Recipe from The Most Decadent Diet Ever! by Devin Alexander(Broadway 2008).