Charles Platkin offers six healthier recipes for Thanksgiving dinner presented by cookbook and Web site authors: Curried Sweet Potato and Millet Soup, Melancauli Baby (Curried Cauliflower Soup), Quinoa, Leek & Cherry Stuffing, Roasted Root Vegetables, Cranberry Orange Relish, I Can't Believe It's Not Sweet Potato Pie
It’s coming — one of the most exciting eating experiences of the year — Thanksgiving. We asked leading nutritionists, chefs and cookbook authors to pass along a few tasty, healthier makeovers of traditional Thanksgiving recipes. Here’s what we’ve found.
Curried Sweet Potato and Millet Soup
Makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
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2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
2 cups sweet potato purée (see Note 1)
6 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
3/4 cup millet, toasted (see Note 2)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted chopped walnuts or sliced almonds, for garnish
Plain yogurt, optional
1. In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until carrots soften, about 7 minutes.
2. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder and orange zest and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sweet potato and stock and stir well. Bring to a boil. Stir in millet. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until millet is tender and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes.
3. Add orange juice and maple syrup and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of yogurt, if using.
Note 1: To get this quantity of puréed sweet potato, bake, peel and mash 2 medium sweet potatoes, each about 6 ounces. You can also use a 14-ounce can of sweet potato purée.
Note 2: While it’s not necessary to toast millet, toasting does bring out its pleasantly nutty flavor. To toast, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it crackles and releases its aroma, about 5 minutes.
Variation: Substitute an equal quantity of quinoa for the millet. Do not toast it, but rinse thoroughly before adding to the soup.
Nutritional Information: (2 ½ cups) 240 calories, 3.5g fat, 48.8g carbs, 4.8g protein, 5.5g fiber
From Judith Finlayson, author of “The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook” (Robert Rose, 2008)
Melancauli Baby (Curried Cauliflower Soup)
Makes 8 servings
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 large)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups small cauliflower florets
1 ½ cups peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup evaporated 2% milk
1/2 cup packed shredded light Swiss cheese (2 ounces)
1. Heat butter in a large, nonstick soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Cook and stir until leeks begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
2. Stir in cauliflower, sweet potato, curry and cumin. Cook and stir for 1 more minute. Add broth, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
3. Transfer half the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. Return puréed soup to pot with remaining soup and mix well. Stir in cooked rice, milk and Swiss cheese. Heat soup for 1 more minute. Serve hot.
Nutritional Information: (10 ounces) 142 calories, 3.7g fat, 20g carbs, 3g fiber, 8g protein, 16mg cholesterol, 448mg sodium
From Janet and Greta Podleski, authors of “Eat Shrink & Be Merry” (Granet Publishing, 2005)
Quinoa, Leek & Cherry Stuffing
Makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups halved and sliced leeks (about 2 large)
2 cups sliced celery (about 4 stalks)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups quartered cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of one large orange
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add leeks, celery and garlic and season with some salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until veggies are just tender.
2. Stir in mushrooms, cherries, poultry seasoning and another hit of salt and pepper and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes or until everything is tender.
3. Toss in quinoa and Parmesan and mix well. Stir in the orange zest and fresh parsley, and taste to be sure it doesn’t need more seasoning.
Note: If stuffing seems a little dry, add some liquid. You could use some of the juice from the orange or any kind of broth you have on hand.
Nutritional Information: (3/4 cup or 6 ounces) 194 calories, 4.8g fat, 34g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 6.2g protein, 3mg cholesterol, 103mg sodium
From Dani Spies, HHC, AADP, health and food coach and fitness trainer, author of www.danispies.com
Roasted Root Vegetables
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 pound sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 large sweet carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
4 turnips, scrubbed and quartered
1 head garlic, separated into cloves, loose skin removed
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. Place all vegetables in large mixing bowl. Add sea salt and olive oil. Toss to coat.
4. Place vegetables on baking sheet. Lay rosemary sprigs on top. Roast for 35 minutes or until golden brown and soft.
5. Serve hot. Let your guests know they can squeeze the garlic out of the skins for an extra garlicky touch.
Nutritional Information: (1/2 cup) 90 calories, 2g total fat, 0.2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 1.5g protein, 17g carbs, 13.5g fiber, 50mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol
From Tosca Reno, author of “Eat-Clean Diet for Family & Kids” (Robert Kennedy Publishing, 2008)
Cranberry Orange Relish
Makes 12 servings
4 cups fresh cranberries, or 2 (8-ounce) bags frozen/unsweetened, thawed and rinsed
2 oranges, peeled and halved
2/3 cup (230 grams) raw honey, or more or less to taste
1. In a blender or food processor, blend the cranberries, oranges and raw honey until a juicy relish is formed. Before serving, set aside for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Nutritional Information: (2 tablespoons) 83 calories, 0g fat, 25g carbs, 0.5g protein, 2g fiber
From Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, author of “The Healthiest Meals on Earth” (Fair Winds Press, 2008)
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Sweet Potato Pie
Makes 4 servings
1 large butternut squash (yielding 2 cups mashed flesh)
½ cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
1/3 cup light vanilla soy milk
1/3 cup sugar-free maple syrup
¼ cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup miniature marshmallows
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Remove both ends of the squash. Peel and cut into large chunks, removing seeds.
3. Fill a large, microwave-safe dish with ½ inch of water. Place squash in the dish and cover. Microwave for about 8 minutes and drain (squash should be tender enough to mash, but not overcooked).
4. With a potato masher, food processor or fork, mash squash thoroughly. Measure out 2 generous cups, lightly packed, and place in a baking dish.
5. Add all ingredients except the marshmallows to the dish. Mix thoroughly, but do not over-stir (squash should still be pulpy). Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until solid.
6. Top the “pie” with mini marshmallows. Return to the oven for 5 minutes or until marshmallows begin to brown. Cool before serving.
Nutritional Information: (¼ of pie) 113 calories, <0.5g fat, 26g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 8g sugars, 5g protein, 263mg sodium
From Lisa Lillien, founder of Hungry Girl (www.Hungry-Girl.com) and author of “Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008)
Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate, founder and editor of DietDetective.com, the online source for nutrition, fitness, food, diet and wellness information. Copyright 2008 by Charles Stuart Platkin. All rights reserved. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter and iTunes podcast at www.DietDetective.com