Thanksgiving with a Twist
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2021

Thanksgiving with a Twist

I love Thanksgiving. Traditionally, it marked a welcome end to the hard work of the agricultural year. For today’s families, Thanksgiving is a time to gather and reflect on everything they are grateful for, including a bounty of delicious food. I love many of the traditional recipes my family has passed down through the years. However, I also like to put a healthy twist on some old favorites. Read the concepts and recipes below to see what I mean.

Embrace the vegetables. Vegetables are rich in water and fiber. These two components make them so satisfying. They also include important vitamins. Finally, so many vegetables have a lot of natural sweetness. The dessert recipe below is so good, and it actually includes a vegetable. Not that your guests will ever know! Swapping out less nutritious ingredients for vegetables can help balance your diet.

Spice it up. Surprise! You don’t need gobs of butter and salt to make a delicious, tender, and moist turkey or to make any of your other favorites as good as you remember. Instead, lean toward herbs and spices to flavor your meat, side dishes, and desserts. Varied flavors excite the palate with less saturated fat and sodium.

Watch the Sugar. Typical cranberry relish is loaded with sugar. What if you could enjoy all of that wonderful cranberry flavor without all of the added sugar and without even cooking? As it turns out, cooking cranberries brings out their bitterness. Eating them raw with plenty of spices is delightful. The recipe below uses oranges to bring out the sweetness, instead of sugar.



Sweet Potato Hummus
Serves 6

2 large             Sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cloves           Garlic
1 tsp.               Olive oil
3 tbsp.             Tahini paste
1 cup               Water
2 tbsp.            Lemon juice

  1. Roast sweet potatoes in oven at 375°F for 40 minutes.
  2. Drizzle potatoes with Olive Oil and garlic.
  3. Transfer sweet potatoes, olive oil, and garlic to food processor.
  4. Pulse processor and slowly add water, lemon juice, and tahini.
  5. Serve as a dip for fresh vegetables.


Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
Serves 6

1 6 – 7 lb.        Turkey breast
1 tbsp.             Garlic, minced
2 tsp.               Lemon juice
2 tbsp.             Dijon mustard
1 tbsp.             Rosemary
1 tbsp.             Sage
1 tsp.               Thyme
½ tsp.               Black pepper

  1. Mix all ingredients together to make a wet rub. 
  2. Rub raw turkey breast with and bake at 325°F for 1.5 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.


Cauliflower Stuffing
Serves 6

1 medium head           Fresh cauliflower, remove core, break into small florets
3 tbsp.                         Olive oil
Dash                            Black pepper
1 medium                    Onion, diced
2 c                               Carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup                           Mushrooms, sliced
2 cups                          Celery, diced
1 tsp.                           Sage
2 tbsp.                         Parsley
½ cup                           Vegetable broth

  1. Heat Olive Oil in sauté pan, add onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms. 
  2. Add sage, black pepper, cauliflower, and vegetable broth.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes, add fresh parsley and serve


Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Serves 6

1.5 lbs.             Brussel sprouts
2 tbsp.             Olive oil
Dash                Black pepper

Toss all ingredients together spread on a sprayed sheet pan and roast at 350°F for 30 – 45 minutes.


Cranberry-Mandarin Orange Relish
Serves 6

1 12 -ounce bag          Fresh cranberries
1 8-ounce can             Mandarin oranges
1 tsp.                           Cinnamon
1 tsp.                           Ginger
1 tbsp.                         Orange zest
2 tbsp.                         Sugar

  1. Chop cranberries by hand or use food processor. 
  2. Place them in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Add rest of ingredients, refrigerate overnight, and serve as a side.

Apple-Berry Crisp
Serves 6

6 – 8 medium Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 cups              Frozen Hubbard squash, drained and roasted
½ - 1 cup          Frozen berries of your choice
1 tbsp.             Honey
1 tbsp.             Cinnamon
1 tsp.               Ginger
1                      Egg
½ cup               Brown sugar

  1. Place apples and berries in an 8-inch sprayed baking pan
  2. Drizzle with honey.
  3. Whip remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. 
  4. Spread over apple mixture and bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.  Best served warm.

If you make all of these recipes this Thanksgiving, you make just one, or you find even just one small way to make Thanksgiving healthier, you’ll be making more room for good health at the holiday table. Your Thanksgiving will be an observation not only of what you’re grateful for but also the changes you are willing to make to increase the health and joy in your life.

Kristin Irace, RD, is a registered dietitian at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington.


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