Yes, there’s plenty to be said for tradition, and in many American families, that means plates piled high with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn bread, stuffing, and green bean casserole (which sounds healthier than it is). But by taking a less-is-more approach—focusing on a few healthy, delicious courses—you can serve a well-balanced meal that still tastes great. Your family will be satisfied and full and still have plenty of reasons to give thanks. And even if they don’t thank you, their hearts will.
Appetizer: Caroline Lazur’s Butternut Squash Leek Soup with Sage
Makes: 6 servings
Total Time: 40 minutes
- 1 butternut squash, about 4 cups cubed
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 large leek, white/light green part only, chopped
- 6 cups fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 garlic cloves, halved
- 4 sage leaves
- ½ cup 1% milk
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
To Make | (1) Peel the squash and remove the seeds. (2) Cut the squash lengthwise and then into 1- to 2-inch cubes. (3) In a large pot, combine the squash, carrot, onion, leek, broth, garlic, and sage, and bring to a boil. (4) Cover and simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes, until squash is tender. (5) Remove the sage and puree soup using a blender. Add the milk and salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a fall festive mug topped with Parmesan cheese or a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt.
What’s good about it | Not only is it low in calories and can still curb your appetite before the meal, but it can easily be made ahead of time and reheated before your guests arrive. It’s also versatile: You can boil or roast the squash (roasting adds calories to the recipe because of the oil needed to sauté the onion, garlic, and leek). For something a little more exotic, you can change the flavor by omitting the sage and adding cumin, garam masala, and curry while sautéing the garlic and onion and using light coconut milk instead of 1% cow’s milk. This recipe is made up of delicious fall flavors that are a perfect low-cal accompaniment to a traditionally high-calorie meal.
Caroline Lazur, RD, is the registered dietitian at the Metabolic & Weight Loss Center at Capital Health Medical Center–Hopewell.
Mindy Komosinsky’s Roasted Vegetables
Makes: 6 Servings
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 cups baby carrots
- 4 cloves garlic, halved
- 2 T olive oil
- Salt and pepper (optional)
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 T fresh-squeezed
- Lemon juice
To make | (1) Preheat oven to 400°F. (2) Toss all vegetables with oil, salt, and pepper, if desired. (3) Spread vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. (4) Roast 30–35 minutes, tossing once or twice during cooking. (5) Transfer to a bowl. (6) Add toasted pine nuts and lemon juice.
What’s good about it | I make this recipe every year for Thanksgiving. Since there are so many high-carb side dishes at holiday meals, it is nice to serve some colorful and flavorful vegetables.
Mindy Komosinsky, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator. She is the outpatient dietitian at Capital Health’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling Service. Mindy’s goal is to teach healthy eating habits by showing patients how to make simple and gradual changes.
Makes: 4 servings
Total Time: 1 hour
- 4 Honey crisp apples
- 4 T walnuts, chopped
- 1 ½ T raisins
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Dash of ground cloves
- 1 T brown sugar
- 1 T butter
To make | (1) Preheat oven to 350 °F. (2) Place apples on 9×9 baking dish. (3) Combine walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, and butter. (4) Stuff cored apples with walnut mixture. (5) Bake apples uncovered 40-45 minutes.
What’s good about it | Thanksgiving dinner is known to provide an enormous amount of calories and fat. Why not substitute a typical high-fat and high-calorie dessert (such as apple, pecan, or pumpkin pie) with something a little less in the caloric and fat department but that doesn’t deprive you the feeling of treating yourself.
Jessica Tsiopelas, RD, is a clinical dietitian for Sodexo at Capital Health. She has more than 8 years of clinical experience working with a variety of medical and surgical patients in an acute-care clinical setting. She also holds a certificate of training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management.