Thanksgiving is a day that tends to lean towards gluttony; families eat until stomachs are stuffed with everything from turkey to mashed potatoes, casseroles and pies. However, just because being indulgent is a top holiday priority doesn’t mean there can’t be healthy Thanksgiving side dishes to accompany the turkey.
Surrounding the normal Thanksgiving fixings with healthy side dishes filled with in-season produce is a way to ensure that, even when you do indulge, the meal is packed with good-for-you ingredients that both help keep you feeling full and offer all the nutrients your body (not just your appetite) craves. (After you’re done here, be sure to check out Part Two as well!)
Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving
Former New Jersey resident and TV personality Laura Theodore, of The Jazzy Vegetarian on PBS, is no stranger to creating vegetable (and vegan)-friendly dishes for holiday dinners. After all, even carnivores can appreciate the benefits of power-packed veggies such as typical fan favorite, kale.
Kale’s fifteen minutes of fame was arguably last year, when the world hailed it as a superfood, adding it to anything and everything from smoothies to desserts. But even though it has since been replaced by the “it” food of the moment, cauliflower (see recipe below), it’s still a green that’s worth eating as often as you can.
One cup of kale contains 5 grams of fiber with just 36 calories. It has powerful antioxidants including carotenoids, flavonoids and vitamins including Vitamin A, C and K, which is a big player in a number of bodily functions including bone health. It’s also known for its anti-inflammatory powers and has both more calcium than milk and more iron than beef per calorie (a perfect tidbit for the table’s meat lovers). Lastly, it’s a great detoxifier, which is ideal for a day when stuffing is an activity, not just something that’s on the menu.
Below, we’ve outlined two recipes featuring a couple of the healthiest vegetables around, courtesy of top chefs from the Garden State. Be sure to stay tuned for Part Two of this feature, as we continue to highlight the best healthy Thanksgiving side dishes.
Kale with Walnut “Cream” Sauce
From Laura Theodore of The Jazzy Vegetarian
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- Steam the kale for 8 to 10 minutes, until wilted and quite soft, but still bright green. Transfer the kale to a medium bowl.
- Meanwhile, put the walnuts, water, Italian seasoning, tamari and garlic into a blender and process until creamy and smooth, adding more water if needed – two tablespoons at a time – to achieve desired consistency.
- Pour the sauce over the kale and toss until kale has an even coating. Serve immediately.
Now that your greens are on the table, it’s time to make another vegetable the star of the show. Just like kale, cauliflower is having its moment, with chefs using the vegetable as a substitute for everything from steaks to rice. A relative of broccoli, this cruciferous vegetable boasts an impressive amount of vitamins, including 77% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C and minerals including magnesium, phosphorous and choline, which is integral to brain development. Just like kale, it’s a super detoxifier thanks to a number of antioxidants and glucosinolates, and since it’s full of fiber, you can be sure that your second helping of potatoes won’t sit too long in your stomach.
To make cauliflower the star of your Thanksgiving, try out Chef Oleg Scorpan’s (from Yvonne’s in Neptune) creation a try. (Note: you can take out the bacon to make this dish vegetarian-friendly.) Making room in the oven for this recipe is definitely worth it!
Oven Roasted Cauliflower
Courtesy of Chef Oleg Scorpan of Yvonne’s in Neptune
1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and blanched in hot water
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
½ cup of Chopped Bacon
½ cup diced fresh tomatoes
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 cups olive oil
5-7 garlic cloves
2 cups of mayonnaise
salt and pepper (to taste)
- Stuff cauliflower with feta cheese and bacon, then bake for 15-20 minutes in a 375-degree oven. Once the cheese is melted and the cauliflower has a golden color, remove from oven and place in a bowl.
- Meanwhile, place 2 cups of olive oil in pot over medium heat with cloves of garlic. Bring to a simmer and let cook until garlic is tender. Strain the olive oil and save the garlic. Mix garlic cloves with 2 cups of mayo in a blender or food processor and season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with diced tomatoes, parsley and garlic ailo.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Peter Kim / Adobe Stock
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
Iuliia Metkalova / Adobe Stock
Laura Theodore / The Jazzy Vegetarian
Oleg Scorpon / Yvonne’s