Tips and Recipes for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Maria O'Rourke, Food Fanatics Chef, DC Metro Area, US Foods

Tips and Recipes for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Traditional Thanksgiving foods are naturally good for you. Fresh cranberries, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and other root vegetables are packed with fiber and antioxidants. White meat turkey (without the skin) is a lean, low calorie source of protein. Keeping recipes simple and letting the seasonal ingredients shine is the key to creating a healthy but still indulgent Thanksgiving menu.

Here are some tips for lightening up your Thanksgiving:

  • Start the day with a pumpkin pie smoothie: Freeze canned pumpkin in an ice cube tray. Blend 4-5 cubes with a half cup of vanilla yogurt, a dash of pumpkin pie spice, half a cup of milk, and agave, honey or other sweetener of choice.
  • Instead of coating the turkey in butter, blend a little olive oil with fresh herbs and coat the turkey with this mixture instead.
  • Use whole grain rustic bread cubes, turkey sausage, fresh sage and vegetables to create a hearty, healthy stuffing.
  • Consider skipping the bread based stuffing entirely and make wild rice with toasted pecans leeks, celery and mushrooms for a healthier, gluten free option.
  • Skip the pie crust and make easy pumpkin "souffles". Simply make pumpkin pie filling and pour into greased individual ramekins. Bake at 325 degrees until almost set in the center.
  • Instead of the traditional green bean casserole made with high sodium canned soup, use the attached brussels sprouts recipe for a healthier but still indulgent vegetable side dish.
  • Use low sodium chicken broth and light sour cream instead of butter and milk in mashed potatoes. Try using Yukon Gold potatoes, which have a naturally buttery flavor. You can even skip the potatoes entirely and mash steamed cauliflower with some butter and a splash of heavy cream for a low-carb mash.

 

Autumn Kale Salad (Serves 8)

  • 8 ounces Lacinato or Curly Kale, large stems removed and cut into ribbon
  • 8 ounces diced butternut squash, roasted* and cooled
  • ½ cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • ½ cup pepitas
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled

Dressing:

  • ½ c. olive oil
  • ¼ c. cider vinegar
  • 3Tbsp. finely minced shallot
  • 1 Tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tsp honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard and honey until blended. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly.

To make the salad, mix all salad ingredients except goat cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and mix well. Add cheese and mix gently.

*To roast squash, toss with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Shallots (Serves 8)

  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced vertically into thin slivers
  • ½ c. diced pancetta
  • 2 medium shallots, sliced into thin slivers
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Combine the sprouts, shallots and pancetta. Drizzle with olive oil and spread out on a large baking sheet covered with a sheet of parchment.

Roast the mixture at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned.

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