DIG IN ! 4 SIMPLE, DELISH, HEALTHY THANKSGIVING SIDE DISHES
Thanksgiving is, hands-down, my absolute favorite holiday of the year. There’s nothing I savor more than enjoying special moments with our nearest and dearest, giving thanks and of course, cooking up a storm! The heavenly aroma of a roasting turkey fills me with joy and I can’t wait to breathe it all in, and eat it too!
Another joy I’m looking forward to this Thanksgiving is introducing our family traditions to our newest addition to the family, two-month old grandson Dominic Michael. Though he might be a little young to fully participate, it will be his first time at our ‘Turkey Trot’ scavenger hunt/hike in the beautiful Berkshire woods behind our home. It’s always a favorite activity with the kids, and some of the older set too!
We’ll also share our thoughts in the annual ‘Gratitude Bowl,’ where everyone places a note of gratitude for the things in life they are grateful for. Amidst all the chatting and high spirits of the day, writing our gratitude notes is a wonderful moment of reflection as we put pen to paper – and again, later in the evening, when we read them aloud after dinner.
As for my personal cooking traditions, I always try to add a few, healthy new recipes to the mix, in addition to my go-to ‘classics.’ Variety is, after all, the spice of life! Here are a few recipes I will be enjoying this season – and to inspire you when it’s time to hunker down and get cookin’!
POMEGRANATE MINT RELISH (Makes 6-8 servings)
Total Time: 30 Minutes
What’s great about this relish is that it’s light and fresh and colorful, not to mention loaded with pomegranate power, antioxidants and healing ingredients. It’s also a tasty, less sweet alternative to the traditional, sugar-drenched cranberry stuff. Better yet, it’s super-simple!
4 tablespoons finely diced shallots
2 teaspoons orange juice
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup arils from 1 large Pomegranate
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
∙ Place the shallots, orange juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.
∙ Whisk in the honey and then the olive oil.
∙ Stir in the fresh pomegranate arils and mint.
∙ Enjoy on just about anything throughout the year, not just Thanksgiving!
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH LEMON & PISTACHIOS (Servings: 6)
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Here’s a simple take on basic brussels sprouts – add some texture with crushed pistachios! You’ll also get a nice amount of protein and antioxidants and help support your good gut bacteria without adding a lot of calories. Who could ask for anything more? So dig in!
∙ 1-1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, halved, leaves removed
∙ 2 tablespoons minced shallots
∙ 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
∙ 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
∙ 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
∙ 1 tablespoon lemon juice
∙ 1 teaspoon 100% maple syrup
∙ ½ cup crushed raw unsalted pistachios
∙ Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
∙ Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
∙ Cut brussels sprouts into roughly similarly-sized halves to ensure even cooking
∙ In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts and shallots with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.
∙ Transfer the brussels sprouts to the baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning, until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
∙ Place brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice maple syrup and toss to coat evenly. Top with crushed pistachios.
GLUTEN AND DAIRY-FREE GRAVY (Servings: 6)
Total Time: 30 Minutes
I love gravy – the more the better! However, I am also gluten-free by necessity. If you are too, then you must give this one a whirl! It’s one of my favorites by my dear friend and cohort in health, Caroline Nation:
∙ 2 1/2 tablespoons clarified butter ( ghee), olive oil or coconut oil or even good quality nut oil.
∙ 2 1/2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
∙ 1 1/2 cups skimmed strained pan juices plus an excellent chicken or veg stock
∙ Salt and pepper
∙ Good gravy depends on only 2 things : a well blended roux and a great stock. So do not short cut either.
∙ If you are not a vegetarian but lactose intolerant I would suggest you use clarified butter for best flavor results.
∙ If you are completely avoiding dairy, either olive oil or coconut oil will work or any good quality nut oil.
∙ Remember to keep the heat gentle if you decide on the olive oil. Try to use some drippings from the pan for the best flavor possible.
∙ In a small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
∙ Add the sweet rice flour and whisk until a smooth paste forms.
∙ This should be a nice tan color and take approximately 3-5 minutes.
∙ In a slow steady stream, whisk in the pan juices and stock.
∙ Continue to whisk until gravy has thickened and begins to bubble.
∙ Add more stock if gravy becomes too thick.
CAULIFLOWER-ROASTED GARLIC MASH (Servings: 4)
Total Time: 20 Minutes prep-time + 45 Minutes cook-time
This recipe will remind you of the best mashed potatoes you've ever eaten without the heaviness – and you can make them up to 2 days ahead and store in the fridge. You can also roast the garlic a few days in advance, so you can put it all together in a matter of minutes on Thanksgiving Day!
∙ 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
∙ 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
∙ 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
∙ 2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
∙ salt & freshly ground black pepper
∙ 1/4 cup chives or scallions, finely minced
∙ Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
∙ Place garlic cloves on a piece of aluminum foil; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
∙ Wrap the aluminum foil tightly to make a little pouch so no air escapes and roast for about 40 minutes. Set aside.
∙ Meanwhile, bring a 6-quart pot of water to a boil, add 1 teaspoon salt and the florettes. Boil until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. (A paring knife should be able to pierce the cauliflower.)
∙ Drain the water and transfer the cauliflower to a food processor.
∙ Cut off the tips of the garlic cloves and squeeze the roasted garlic into the food processor.
∙ Add the butter or olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Puree until smooth and creamy.
∙ Taste and add more butter/oil or salt and pepper as you like.
∙ Transfer to a bowl and stir in chives or scallions. Serve hot.
For more ideas and nutritional guidance throughout the season and beyond, check out http://www.kathieswift.com/blog/2014/11/11/swift-swaps-tips-recipes-for-a-healthier-thanksgiving
Wishing you and yours a nourishing Thanksgiving!