A Healthy Spin on Thanksgiving Classics

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Light & Creamy Pumpkin Dip

  • 4oz light cream cheese, soft
  • 8oz cool whip
  • 6oz plain light greek yogurt
  • 15oz can of pumpkin
  • Honey
  • 1 tbsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 small round pumpkin
  1. In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, cool whip, yogurt and pumpkin, and mix well. Add in nutmeg and cinnamon. Lastly, add in the honey gauging the sweetness to your liking, as I used a little less than ¼ cup. Stir well making sure to get everything mixed evenly and place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to cool and set.
  2. Cut top of small pumpkin off and scoop out insides thoroughly. Transfer pumpkin dip to the pumpkin and arrange dipping snacks.

After reading a few ingredient labels and skimming the store for some kid-friendly dippers, I decided upon these 4; sliced gala apples (you can peel skin before cutting), graham cracker sticks, sweet potato cinnamon crackers and dried apple slices. I would have to say my lil guy’s favorite was the dried apple slices and the hubbies had to be the graham cracker sticks.

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Cranberry Granola Sweet Potatoes

You don’t have to make your own fresh granola, but why not? So easy and the leftovers can be used for breakfast. Store bought granola can be loaded with processed items, sugar and super expensive.

I know many of you LOVE your marshmallows on top of the traditional sweet potato casserole, however there is plenty of flavor and natural sweetness in this casserole that you shouldn’t miss them at all! But if you do… here is a better alternative (still not great, but it definitely a better alternative than most). I have not tried the alternative, but simply compared! The site FoodFacts.com breaks down many food items and grades them based on their ingredients. I searched marshmallows and found Dandies is average, best alternative available receiving a “C” while our well known Jet-Puffed received an “F”.

Granola Ingredients: this is a large batch, cutting in half is plenty for the recipe, I wanted extra for breakfast and family in town.

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 1 ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin
  • 2-4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup of organic all natural maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Cooking spray
  • 5oz bag dried cranberries

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add syrup, honey, and almond extract; toss well. Spread mixture evenly onto a cookie sheet pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 300° for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Stir in cranberries.

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Sweet Potato Ingredients: I leave the skin-on my potatoes in every recipe, it is where all the nutrients are packed and once they are blended, you don’t even notice the skins are in the mix.

  • 2 pounds of sweet potatoes chopped, skin-on
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 tbsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin
  1. To prepare potatoes, place potatoes in a Dutch oven or large pot; cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Cool 5 minutes.
  2. Place potatoes in a large bowl; add ingredients and use a mixer at medium speed until smooth. You can also use regular milk for more creamy taste and add a little more or less depending on the texture you prefer, chunky or smooth. Pour potato mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.
  3. Add granola to top of potatoes and bake 350° for 25 minutes or until top is golden.

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Pumpernickel Dressing AKA Stuffing (but this is not made in the bird) 

Pumpernickel has a low GI or glycemic index. GI is a number given to food items and how it will affect your blood sugar. I thought what a great idea to use bread that has the lowest GI and a super yummy flavor in my dressing to help prevent the blood sugar from spiking quickly and then plummeting soon after. More on GI in bread HERE. Great bread choice for diabetics too.

  • 1 pound chicken sausage, casing removed
  • 1 celery stock chopped
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, leaves trimmed and chopped (Fresh Curly Kale)
  • 1 lb toasted pumpernickel
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or turkey stock
  • 1 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and spray large casserole dish.
  2. Heat 1-tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until golden brown, about 6minutes.
  3. Add 1-cup broth, the celery and squash and season with salt and pepper; cook until the celery is almost tender and the crunch is a nice texture in the dressing.
  4. Add the kale, toss and cover until the kale wilts, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpernickel cubes and the remaining broth. Let the bread absorb the remaining broth.
  5. Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Scatter the shredded cheese evenly on top and bake until golden and cooked through, about 40 minutes.

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“Not so Condensed” Green Bean Casserole

It may feel like a tenuous task of making your own cream of mushroom soup for the green bean casserole, but it is not hard at all – in fact it is super easy and quick, 10-20 min. Plus, it knocks out overly processed, super high sodium condensed soup and gives your recipe better flavor and a fresh taste. I love mushrooms so you can add a lot or just a little to this and a variety of types for more flavor. I used portobello and white mushrooms for this recipe.

Mushroom Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or turkey stock
  • 3 tbsp. of butter
  • ½ cup milk (I used almond milk and it turned out great)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½-1 cup finely-chopped fresh mushrooms
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. dried thyme

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Green Bean & Remaining Casserole Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of fresh green beans, trimmed (cut crosswise in half for a more traditional take on green bean casserole-just not out of bag or can)
  • ¼ cup panko
  • ¼ parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Making the soup. In a saucepan, melt the butter, add in chopped onion and mushrooms. Stir into butter and sauté until just about soft, 3-5 minutes. Gradually sprinkle in flour and stir in the milk and broth, don’t let the flour clump. Continue to vigorously stir over high heat until the soup thickens adding remaining ingredients. Set aside and let cool.
  3. Blanch green beans by adding to large pot of boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes, just until soft. Nice green color and tender crisp. Drain and shock in a bowl of ice water to stop from cooking.
  4. Mix together in a medium bowl, panko and parmesan, set aside.
  5. Drain green beans and toss with mushroom soup. Transfer mix into casserole dish and top with panko and Parmesan mixture. Bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown on top. If you want a little extra brown crisp on top, broil for 5-10 minutes after it is done cooking through.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

My photographer of Sarah Barry Photography and I are thankful for these TWO lil stinkers for making this cooking day eventful!

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