If you’re worried that you have to give up your favorite tastes and traditions in order to lose weight during the holiday season, fret no more!  The reason The Skinny works as a way to slim down now and stay fit for life is that it’s not about drastic sacrifice, it’s about little changes that add up to dramatic results... and this skinny-fied version of my Grandmother’s Gravy proves it.

At holiday feasts, for as long as I can remember, my family could never get enough of that rich and delicious stuff.

But once we all got back to healthy weights again, the original recipe presented a big fat dilemma.

Grandmother’s Gravy started with a roux made of butter, fat from the turkey drippings and white flour…to which she added heavy cream and broth made from the giblets.

Hmm…No matter how skinny I made our side dishes, our own sides would be anything but skinny if our meal was swimming in that stuff.

But by making just a few simple changes to this southern classic, we can now enjoy  the same taste sensation that we crave but with half the calories and fraction of the unhealthy fat.

In this version, I still boil the giblets with herbs and vegetables to make a tasty broth….but instead of making a roux with full fat butter and turkey fat (which can have 100-120 calories a tablespoon and tons of artery clogging fat and cholesterol) we substitute  50-calorie heart healthy Smart Balance Light Butter Spread.  Fat free half-and-half adds the same richness of heavy cream and gluten free brown rice flour works just as well as all purpose flour.  The result?  A flavorful and creamy gravy that everyone loves..and every body can be thankful for.


If you’re using the dry brine method for your bird, you can make the broth and the base of the gravy days ahead…which means the only thing you have to do to finish the gravy on the day of the meal is re-heat the gravy base, add a few tablespoons of turkey drippings (fat skimmed off!) and cook a bit to thicken or add more broth to thin it to the consistency your family prefers.

This guideline calls for 8 cups of liquid which, once cooked down, only yields about 4 cups of broth, which makes about 2 cups of actual gravy. Adjust the amount of water, prepared broth, herbs, vegetables and seasonings according the amount of broth (and gravy) you want to make.

1 bag of turkey giblets (neck bone, liver, heart)

2 stalks celery (broken into pieces)

2 peeled carrots (broken in half)

1 large onion, quartered

1 bulb garlic (cloves smashed, but no need to carefully peel or chop)

1 big handful of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, oregano)

1 T black peppercorns ( if you don’t have those, just add a teaspoon of ground black pepper)

4 c prepared turkey or chicken broth (boxed, canned or made from Better Than Bouillon paste)

4 c water

Empty the giblets into a stock pot, add all of the vegetables and herbs and the prepared chicken or turkey broth. Bring to a hard boil and skim off the scary looking foam.

Reduce heat and simmer the mixture for at least 4 hours until it is reduced by half.

Taste. You want it to have a strong flavor… but don’t want it too salty because when you turn it into gravy, the broth will reduce by half again and the salt will concentrate.  Take it off of the heat and strain out the solids. Toss out the mushy vegetables and herbs and heart, but set aside the neck bone and liver to cool.

Carefully pick the dark and rich neck meat from the bone and add to the strained broth. Those tiny bits of meat will add flavor and texture to your gravy. If your family likes the flavor of chicken liver, crumble that into the broth as well. If you loathe the liver, skip it and toss it.


This recipe makes about 2 cups of gravy.  The key is the technique of adding the well flavored broth in small amounts, and tasting as you go. (Cook’s privilege!)

4 T Smart Balance Light Butter Spread

4 T brown rice flour

4 c homemade turkey broth

1/2 c fat free half-and-half

In a non-stick skillet, melt the Smart Balance over medium heat. As it melts (much more slowly than real butter), sprinkle in the flour and start stirring. You want all of the flour to be coated and cook in the melted butter spread.


After a minute or two, start adding in the broth, 1/4 cup at a time.

If you made the broth days before, as I do, microwave it so it is hot when you add it to the flour.


Keep adding in small amounts of broth and stirring like crazy with a wooden spoon, letting the broth get absorbed by the flour before adding more to avoid lumps.

When all the broth is incorporated, cook and stir until it is just a little thicker than the consistency you prefer.

Stir in the fat free cream and cook until you think it’s perfect.

Taste again for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Fill your plate with vegetables and add no more than 3-4 ounces of turkey (that’s a about the size of a deck of playing cards), drizzle with gravy to add richness and flavor.

By keeping your turkey portion controlled and making little adjustments to your gravy and side dishes, you’ll be just as full and satisfied as you’ve been in the past, but less likely to need stretchy pants (or a stretcher!) at the end of your feast…which means a really happy holiday!

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