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A feast of healthy Thanksgiving options

Last Modified: 5/22/2018

We’re less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving and the culinary planning is well underway. This year, pitch in a lighter option for the potluck with these delicious recipes from Kyla Zehr, MA, RND, registered dietitian nutritionist, Parkview Center for Healthy Living.


Red Quinoa and Cranberry Salad    

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
⅔ cup dried, sweetened cranberries
3 green onions, sliced diagonally into ¼-inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1. Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
2. Combine cranberries, green onions, garlic, pecans, mint, and parsley in a medium bowl. Stir in quinoa.
3. Combine oil and remaining ingredients; stir well. Pour oil mixture over quinoa mixture; stir well. Chill or serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe featured on kumquat 


 Colorful Cabbage Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Cranberries

1/2 medium green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium unpeeled crisp apple such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady, thinly sliced
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Put the green cabbage, red cabbage, apple, walnuts, cranberries, and onion into a large bowl and mix well.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, celery seed and salt.
3. Pour the oil mixture over the cabbage and toss well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Adapted from a recipe featured on Moms Kitchen Handbook


Buttermilk Whipped Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

4 medium potatoes (about 1 pound), diced into large cubes
2 1/2 cups cauliflower (about 1/2 of a large head)
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Dried parsley, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add potatoes and boil for 15-20 minutes, until fork-tender.
2. Add the cauliflower and continue to boil an additional 15-20 minutes.
3. Remove the potatoes and cauliflower from the water and add the remaining ingredients.
4. Whip the potatoes in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or beat with a hand-mixer until smooth.

Adapted from a recipe featured on Prevention RD


Better-for-You Brussels Sprouts Gratin

2 pounds Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces prosciutto, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2½ cups 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup sherry
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel off any damaged outer layers of Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem to make it flush. Cut small sprouts in half and larger ones into quarters lengthwise. Keep a bit of the core attached.
2. Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the prosciutto and sauté, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the Brussels sprouts and stir continuously for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add the flour and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and sherry, raise the heat, and bring to low boil (keep stirring). Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid thickens and reduces by about a third, 7 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, pepper, nutmeg and salt.
4. Transfer to an oven-proof casserole dish. Cover with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the Brussels spouts are tender and the top turns golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe featured on Meal Makeover Moms


Roasted Sesame Brussels Spouts

1/2 pound large Brussels sprouts (about 11 sprouts)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove any wilted or loose leaves from the Brussels sprouts. Rinse and dry them. Quarter them so that each piece still has a bit of the core attached. Place in a bowl and toss with the sesame oil. If there’s not enough oil to coat them lightly but evenly, add a little more. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. When the Brussels sprouts are done marinating, sprinkle with the salt and a few cranks of pepper. Spread the sprouts in one layer on a baking sheet or in a stoneware baking dish.
3. Place in the oven until the sprouts start to brown and caramelize a bit, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn them over about half-way through. Drizzle with a tiny bit of sesame oil and serve hot.

Adapted from a recipe featured on The World in my Kitchen


Creamy Corn Muffins

1 cup self-rising yellow cornmeal mix
1 8.5-ounce can cream style corn
1 1/2 tablespoons nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 8-ounce carton low fat sour cream
1/4 cup egg whites
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. To a medium size bowl, add all ingredients.
3. Stir together until completely mixed and smooth.
4. Spray a muffin pan with oil.
5. Spoon corn mixture into muffin pan, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.
6. Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes.


Green Bean Casserole

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium sweet onion, (half diced, half thinly sliced), divided
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup low-fat milk
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 pound frozen French-cut green beans, (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and slightly translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushroom juices are almost evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour over the vegetables; stir to coat. Add milk and sherry and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Stir in green beans and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in sour cream and buttermilk powder. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
3. Whisk the remaining 1/3 cup flour, paprika, garlic powder and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Add sliced onion; toss to coat. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion along with any remaining flour mixture and cook, turning once or twice, until golden and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Spread the onion topping over the casserole.
4. Bake the casserole until bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from a recipe featured on


Roasted Butternut Squash with Walnut and Cherries

1 medium butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place butternut squash on a stable cutting board; pierce all along the body of the squash with a knife.
3. Microwave on high for 6 minutes or just until slightly tender (do not overcook). Remove from microwave and let cool slightly. Cut butternut squash in half just above the base/bulb end of the squash; cut off end. Peel butternut squash. Cut bottom half in half lengthwise; use spoon to scoop out seeds. Continue cutting and cubing butternut squash.
4. Place cubed squash on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil; sprinkle with salt. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender and roasted.
5. Let cool and top with walnuts and dried cherries. Can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Adapted from a recipe featured on Healthy Aperture  

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