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It’s that time of year again friends!  Holiday season officially begins next week with Thanksgiving and then it’s straight onto the beautiful array of holiday celebrations in December.  Thanksgiving in my family is me and (at least) 25 members of my friends and family.  We are a big group, and we LOVE to eat.  With so many people, there literally is almost no end to the amount of food available to eat.  Though it is all delicious, much of it does not fall into the “good for you” category.  Over the years I have refined many traditional recipes to be healthier without sacrificing flavor.  These three recipes below are our favorite delicious (and healthy) Thanksgiving recipes.

For an APPETIZER: Mediterranean 7 Layer Dip

This year, instead of making a traditional seven layer dip that is heavy on both salt and fat, I am going to make a healthier, Mediterranean version.  It uses Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and it is loaded with healthy and delicious vegetable selections.

Adapted from www.toriavey.com, Serves 3 to 4

SALAD LAYER INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Persian cucumbers, seeded and diced small
  • 4tomatoes, seeded and diced small
  • 1/4 cupfresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt

DIP INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups hummus (pre-made organic varieties are available in the deli case)
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pitted green Greek olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 4 ouncescrumbled feta (block feta preferred rather than pre-crumbled)
  • 2 tbspfreshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley or basil, roughly chopped

YOU WILL ALSO NEED

  • Mixing bowls, colander, 2 qt glass baking or serving dish

DIRECTIONS

  • To make salad layer, combine diced cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and salt in a small mixing bowl Toss to combine, then transfer to a colander and allow the excess liquid to drain while you prepare the other ingredients (slicing, chopping, etc.). Let the salad stand and drain for at least 30 minutes
  • When the salad is fully drained, spread the 3 cups of hummus evenly into the bottom of your serving dish
  • Next, evenly spread the Greek yogurt over the top of the hummus
  • Stir the cucumber salad in the colander to make sure all liquid is thoroughly drained
  • Pile your drained salad mixture on top of the Greek yogurt
  • Then layer on the sliced olives
  • Drizzle with the tahini
  • Sprinkle with the feta
  • And finally, just before serving, sprinkle on your fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley or basil. This dip is great with pita chips

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Onto the SIDE DISH!  Who hasn’t indulged in Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving?  It’s a classic staple showing up on tables across America.  It is also laden in sodium and preservatives.  Here is a healthier, fresher and better tasting version that you will be proud to serve up at your feast!

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 medium sized shallots, in their skins
  • Kosher salt, plus 1 ½ teaspoons und fresh green beans, stemmed, and halved crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups mushroom, vegetable, or chicken broth (see Cook’s Note)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the shallots (in their skins) on a small baking dish, roast until soft, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle; skin and coarsely chop the shallots. Set aside.

Bring a medium-large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add kosher salt, to taste. Add the green beans, and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer the beans to a large bowl.

In the same saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, season with 1 teaspoon salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the beans.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broth, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the shallots, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir to combine evenly.

Spray a 2-quart baking dish with vegetable cooking spray. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the pan. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of thyme to bread crumbs and scatter over the vegetables. Bake uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the crumbs brown, about 20 minutes.

Courtesy of: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/green-bean-casserole-slimmed-recipe-2009016

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SO…WHAT’S FOR DESSERT???

Even to this day, dessert remains one of my favorite parts of the holiday meal.  Many of my family members have specific dietary requirements and I found this Gluten free brownie recipe that uses coconut oil and coconut sugar (which is lower on the GI Index).  The brownies themselves are delicious and easy to make.  My family didn’t even notice the modifications the first year I brought them!

THE PERFECT GLUTEN FREE BROWNIES

Author: One Lovely Life

Serves: 16 brownies

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅔ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I use dairy free chocolate chips)
  • 5 Tbsp coconut oil (can sub butter, avocado oil, vegan butter, ghee)
  • ⅔ cup coconut sugar (can sub white, brown, or maple sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda (if paleo) or baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

To mix in:

  • ⅔ cup additional chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (can sub nuts)

Optional: coarse sea salt to sprinkle on top

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a small saucepan, gently melt chocolate and oil over low heat until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until slightly lighter in color and until they pass the ribbon test (when you lift the whisk the mixture should stream down evenly in “ribbons”). Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients–almond flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Working slowly,whisk the egg/sugar mixture into the saucepan of melted chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla and mix in.
  6. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold until just mixed.
  7. Fold in the additional chocolate chips.
  8. Pour batter into your prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees 20-24 minutes, or until edges are set and the center is still ever so slightly underdone. (The remaining heat should set the center as it cools)
  10. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if using, and allow brownies to cool before slicing.

I like to top the brownies with coconut whipped cream and sliced strawberries as well!

Happy Thanksgiving from  our family to yours!

 

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