There are roughly 10 days until Thanksgiving, which means that there is still plenty of time to look for new and healthier versions of your favorite recipes. Have you ever wondered what a RD eats? Here is a sampling from my menu that I serve alongside my turkey.
Each year my menu for Thanksgiving seems to get healthier yet, “cleaner”, while at the same time, more delicious. By cleaner, I mean that the foods I serve are closer to their natural state. Instead of a green bean casserole, I simply prepare fresh green beans tossed in a bit of olive oil (I use a spritzer) with a touch of parmesean cheese sprinkled on top.
Being that I always serve at least 2 vegetables, I make a point of serving 1 vegetable that my family and friends may not eat on a regular basis. For instance, fresh brussel sprouts tossed in a very hot pan with a bit of olive oil & a hint of nutmeg. Or, fresh beets which have been wrapped in aluminum foil and roasted in the oven @ 350 until soft (approx 45 minutes). A green salad with spinach, roasted nuts and dried cherries or pomegranates and a bit of low-fat feta cheese with a light balsamic vinaigrette is always appreciated.
For the stuffing, I use a 100% whole wheat/grain baguette which I cut into cubes. Sometimes, I use a blend of rye and Italian breads too. I then use fat-free chicken stock with lots of veggies, dried fruits and seasonings. Apples and cranberries are a great addition to stuffing, as are celery and onion. Keep in mind that you can add anything that you like to your stuffing.
For the potatoes, I leave half of the potatoes unpeeled which increases the fiber and vitamin content. The trick to making mashed potatoes healthy is to keep it simple. As the potatoes simmer, I add 2 cloves of garlic-this allows the potatoes to soak up the flavor of the garlic. When mashing, I use a combination of fat-free chicken stock and skim milk with a little bit of butter (2 Tbsp). My secret ingredient is about 6 sections of roasted garlic along with chives. I guarantee they will love the potatoes!
Fresh sweet potatoes are so delicious in their natural state that one does not need to add much more than skim milk and a bit of brown sugar. After you puree the pulp of the sweet potato with milk and brown sugar, simply warm in the oven until hot.
I always use fresh cranberries. Once they have “popped”, I then add fresh orange peel, orange juice, sugar & some roasted pecans. This is the only recipe that I will use and, by far, the best recipe ever! ( I have included the recipe:)
Lastly………. dessert. There are so many festive autumn desserts that can easily be made from scratch. I always make my mother’s pumpkin pie recipe which I modify by using fat-free evaporated milk plus skim milk, & eggs, which I separate & then fold the whites into the mixture. Also, I serve it as a flan. In other words, to save calories, I do not use a crust. I simply pour the pureed pumpkin mixture in a pan & bake, as I would a pie. For those who do not like pie, I make pumpkin bars and pecan bars.
I hope that you find my modifications to otherwise standard recipes useful and more nutritious than their previous counterparts. There are many ways to cut calories, sodium and fat from your family recipes. But remember, the most important part of the season is to enjoy and be thankful for your family and friends:)
Cranberry Pecan Relish
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
½ Tsp ginger
4 cups cranberries
½ cup roasted pecans
Bring first 5 ingredients to simmer over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add berries & stir until they pop. Stir another 5 minutes. Remove from heat Stir in pecans. Refrigerate.