Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! Healthy Side-Dish Recipes

Healthy Side Dishes for your Thanksgiving Meal

While that big bird seems to be the main event of a Thanksgiving spread, I enjoy filling my plate with a variety of delicious sides. Many of these dishes are healthier versions of comforting favorites but their common denominator is big, bold flavor that all your guests are sure to enjoy.

Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasting sweet potatoes is even easier than boiling and mashing them. Maple syrup glaze transforms this ultra-simple dish into something sublime.

4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing
4 medium organic sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter.

Cut each of the sweet potatoes into 8 evenly shaped wedges. Lay them out in the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and allow to dissolve. Mix in syrup and cook until smooth. Pour the glaze over the yams and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for about 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork but they still hold their shape.

Green Bean Casserole (minus the canned soup)

2 pounds organic fresh Green Beans, ends removed
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 whole Large Onion, chopped
1/2 cup organic Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
6 Tablespoons organic Butter
4 Tablespoons organic whole-grain Flour
2-1/2 cups organic Whole Milk
1/2 cup organic Half-and-half
1-1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
 Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 cup organic Panko Bread Crumbs

1. Cut green beans in half if you like pieces to be a little smaller.

2. Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they're cool and set aside.

3. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion, mushrooms and garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne. Turn heat off.

5. Add mushroom/onion mixture. Stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish and top with panko crumbs.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and panko crumbs are golden.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce with Thyme

Cranberry sauce: a Jello-jiggly mass filled with sugar (and who knows what else!) that always takes up space on the Thanksgiving table. How an awesome, nutrient-packed cranberry transforms into a less-than-appealing condiment will forever remain a mystery. This year, try making it from scratch. 
Traditional recipes call for a full cup of sugar for every 4 cups of fresh cranberries. In this version, I swap out the sugar for honey. Fresh orange juice and zest add more sweetness and flavor, and the mystery ingredient— thyme— keeps dinner guests guessing (in a good way!).

4 cups fresh organic cranberries
¼ cup fresh-squeezed organic orange juice (about ½ an orange)
2 tsp orange zest
¼ - ⅓ cup raw honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
¾ cup spring water 

1. In a sauce pan, bring water, orange juice and zest, thyme, and honey to a slight boil over medium-high heat.

2. Add cranberries and stir. Return to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries start to burst. 

3. Reduce heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is at the desired consistency.

4. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Remove from heat and let stand— the sauce will thicken as it cools.

Baby Spinach Pecan Salad

A festive Thanksgiving table requires a healthy salad topped with a light dressing.

Salad Ingredients:
 6 cups fresh organic baby spinach
 3/4 cup dried organic cranberries
 1/2 medium organic red onion, thinly sliced
 1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Dressing Ingredients:
 1 cup organic pecan halves
 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
 freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
 3/4 cups organic olive oil
 1/3 cup  organic Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar
 1 T. raw honey

1. In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar,salt, and pepper.
2. Whisk in the olive oil and honey. Add the pecans.
3. In a salad bowl, toss together the greens, cranberries, onion and avocado.  Drizzle with vinaigrette, and toss gently to coat.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Laurel ♥

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