BMI Thanksgiving Feast Recipes

heart healthy thanksgiving recipes

The Arkansas Heart Hospital Bariatric & Metabolic Institute (BMI) cooks up a delicious BMI-friendly Thanksgiving feast. Dishes include roasted cornish hens with herbed gravy, southern dressing, cheesy broccoli “rice” casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls and pumpkin spoonbread. Watch the BMI team cook live from the kitchen below, and find a shopping list, ingredients, instructions and nutrition information.


Roasted Cornish Hens with Herbed Gravy
Southern Dressing 
Cheesy Broccoli “Rice” Casserole
Cranberry Sauce 
Pumpkin Spoonbread 

Shopping List: 


  • Celery (1 bunch) 
  • White onions (1 bag) 
  • Cranberries (1 bag) 
  • Orange (1) 
  • Lemon (1) 
  • Riced cauliflower (1 16-oz bag; do not freeze) 
  • Broccoli florets (12-oz, frozen) 


  • Cornish hens (found in freezer section) 
  • Eggs 


  • Butter (1 pound) 
  • Block cheese (32 oz) 
  • Light sour cream (24 oz) 


  • Kitchen string 
  • Keto Hawaiian rolls (Healthy Life brand) 
  • Zester 


  • Better than Bouillon roasted chicken 
  • Pumpkin (1 can; Libby’s brand) 
  • Low sodium chicken bone broth (1) 


  • Kosher salt 
  • Black pepper 
  • Ground sage 
  • Poultry seasoning 
  • Garlic powder 
  • Almond flour 
  • Coconut flour 
  • Splenda 
  • Nonstick cooking spray 
  • Zanthum gum 
  • Corn starch 
  • Baking powder 
  • Baking soda 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Pumpkin pie spice 
  • Canola oil 

Cornish Hens 


  • 2 Cornish hens (thawed) 
  • ¼ cup Basic Blend (equal parts salt, pepper, garlic powder)  
  • Spice blend of preference (Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute used)  
  • Thinly sliced lemon 

Pull thawed hens out of refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting. Preheat oven to 400?F. Loosen skin, season top of skin and under skin with basic blend. Liberally season with spice blend of choice. Place a couple of thin lemon slices in cavity, tie legs with kitchen twine. Roast at 400?F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350?F and cook another 40 minutes basting with pan juices every 10 minutes. Hens are done when they reach 180?F in thigh. Allow to rest 10-15 minutes before carving  

Make ahead tips: 
Line baking pan with aluminum foil. Pat thawed hens with paper towels until dry. Place on paper towel lined baking sheet which will absorb any extra liquid. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to use.  

Nutrition per 3-oz serving:
Calories: 150
Carbohydrates: 0g
Fat: 10.5g
Protein: 14.5g 

Herbed Gravy  


  • 5 Tablespoons butter  
  • Basic blend (equal parts kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder)  
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum  
  • 1 ½ cup reduced sodium chicken bone broth  

Melt butter in medium saucepan. Allow to begin browning (about 4-5 minutes, this may take longer depending on thickness of saucepan). Lower the heat and gradually add in xanthan gum, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Continue whisking 3-4 minutes or until the butter starts to thicken. While whisking, add remaining ingredients. Continue whisking at least 5 minutes or until gravy has reached your desired consistency.  

Nutrition per 2 Tbsp (1oz) gravy: 
Calories: 45 
Carbohydrates: 0g net
Fat: 4.5g
Protein: 1g 

Southern Dressing 


  • 2 ½ cups almond flour  
  • 2 Tbsp ground sage 
  •  2 tsp poultry seasoning  
  • 2 tsp baking powder  
  • 1 tsp kosher salt  
  • 3 eggs  
  • 1 Tbsp butter  
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter  
  • ½ onion, finely chopped  
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped  
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups reduced sodium chicken bone broth  

Preheat oven to 350?F. Spray 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery, sauté 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sage, baking powder and salt. Whisk well to remove any lumps. Add the eggs and butter and whisk together until well combined. Fold in the onion and celery. Slowly add the broth and whisk until well combined. The mixture will be VERY thin and runny. Pour into prepared baking dish and place in oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is browned and the center is not jiggly. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.  

Nutrition per serving (roughly 12 servings per dish):
Calories: 200
Carbohydrates: 2g net
Fat: 16g 
Protein: 7 

Cheesy Broccoli “Rice” Casserole 


  • 1.5 cups light sour cream  
  • 1 Tbsp Chicken Better than Bouillon  
  • 24 oz cheese of choice shredded (do not use pre-shredded)  
  • 1 16-oz package riced cauliflower (cooked according to package directions; use fresh, available in the produce section)  
  • 1 12-oz package frozen chopped broccoli (cooked according to package directions) 

Put sour cream in 6-quart pot. Turn heat to medium, whisking sour cream to prevent scorching. Add Better than Bouillon and whisk to combine. Add 2 cups of the shredded cheese, whisk constantly until cheese is completely melted. Follow cooking directions on riced cauliflower & broccoli. Add to cheese mixture. Add an additional cup of cheese to mixture to thicken. May be baked at 350 for 20 minutes if desired or served immediately.  

Nutrition per serving (roughly 18 servings per dish): 
Calories: 200
Carbohydrates: 4g net
Fat: 15 

Cranberry Sauce: 


  •  ½ cup water  
  • 1 cup Splenda or equivalent (for sweeter sauce increase to 1.5 cups)  
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch  
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries  
  • Pinch of salt  
  • Zest of one orange 

In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, Splenda, and water over medium high heat, stirring until granules are dissolved. Add cranberries and orange zest and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until cranberries begin to pop and mixture has thickened. Add a pinch of salt and stir until combined. Set aside to cool. Pour into bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours. If smooth cranberry sauce is desired, place it in blender or blend with immersion blender. Strain and refrigerate.  

Nutrition per 2 Tbsp (1oz) sauce: 
Calories: 20
Carbohydrates: 3g net
Fat: 0g
Protein: 0g 

Pumpkin Smush Bread (Spoonbread)  


  • 1 cup canola oil  
  • 2 cups Splenda  
  • 3 large eggs  
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract  
  • 2 cups solid pumpkin  
  • ¾ cup coconut flour  
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 1 tsp baking soda  
  • 2 tsp baking powder  
  • 2 tsp cinnamon  
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice  

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the oil, Splenda, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not overmix. Grease and flour a 6×9 pan baking dish. Pour the batter into the dish. Bake at 325?F for 45-50 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick into the center of the loaf, and it comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to fully cool.  

Nutrition per serving (roughly 18 servings per dish): 
Calories: 150 
Carbohydrates: 2.2g net
Fat: 14g
Protein: 2g