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Better-for-you Thanksgiving recipes

6 tasty fall dishes that the whole family will love


By Gina Houmann, MPH, RDN, LD
November 13, 2017

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As a registered dietitian, cooking is a big passion of mine. I love coming up with creative and delicious meals for (and with!) my family that will give them the nutrition they need to stay powered up. So it should come as no surprise that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! There are so many possibilities for what to make, and I love the way my home fills with the smell of turkey, apple pie and roasted vegetables.

I admit that thinking about all the time and effort it takes to prepare a holiday meal can be stressful. But I promise it doesn’t have to be!

Check out these 6 family-favorite recipes that are sure to impress. There are 2 starters, 2 sides and 2 desserts. And the best part? They are easy to make and good for you!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Makes 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced/finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (Or, 1 20-ounce package of pre-cut squash)
  • 1 tart apple, cored and cubed, with the stem and hard center part removed
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Instructions

  1. Put a large heavy-bottomed pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. When it is hot, carefully add the oil.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, celery, curry powder, and basil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Add the butternut squash, apple, and broth and raise the heat to high; bring to a boil.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and cook until the squash is very tender, 45 minutes. Set aside to cool down a bit, at least 15 minutes, at room temperature. Stir occasionally to help the mixture cool.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, very carefully remove the soup solids and put them in a blender or food processor. Do not fill more than halfway.
  6. If you are using a blender, put the top on but remove the little cap in the center. If using a food processor, leave the plunger out. By doing this, you will allow the steam to escape. Then, cover the hole loosely with a clean dish towel.
  7. Turn the blender to the lowest speed and increase the speed as the soup purees. Gradually add the cooking liquid. Blend or process until completely smooth.
  8. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Pear Salad

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium pears, chopped, not peeled (about 3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 10-12 ounces mixed salad greens (about 10 cups), torn
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, blueberries or blackberries (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat raspberry salad dressing
  • 2 ounces blue or feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large salad bowl, mix chopped pears with lemon juice to prevent browning.
  2. Add salad greens and nuts.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss.
  4. Top with optional blue or feta cheese and a few fresh berries.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 russet potatoes or sweet potatoes (or 1 of each)
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Scrub or wash root vegetables; peeling optional.
  3. Chop all vegetables into similar sized pieces (approximately 1-inch cubes).
  4. In a bowl, toss cut vegetables with olive oil to coat and add salt, pepper or any other desired seasonings.
  5. Spread out vegetables evenly on a sheet pan or roasting pan and cook until tender and golden brown, generally 40 - 50 minutes, toss or stir with spatula every 10 - 15 minutes.
  6. Enjoy hot as a side dish!

Roasted Sprouts

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim the brown bottoms off the Brussels sprouts and remove any yellow leaves. Cut larger sprouts into 4 pieces and smaller sprouts in half.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cut Brussels sprouts with olive oil, thyme, chopped shallot, pecans, salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  4. Spread on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until sprouts are tender on the inside and crisp on the outside, 20-30 minutes, flipping the sprouts every 7-8 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven. Toss with the balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with any other desired seasonings and enjoy

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1⁄4 cup orange juice
  • 1⁄4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1⁄2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1⁄4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1⁄2 very ripe banana
  • 1 dash cinnamon and/or nutmeg
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Put the top on tightly. Turn the blender to a medium setting and blend until the ice is chopped and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
  3. Serve right away, or refrigerate up to 4 hours.

Cranberry Orange Walnut Bread

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray or oil
  • 1 1⁄3 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Grated zest of 2 well-washed oranges
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup plain low-fat Greek or regular yogurt, or buttermilk
  • 1 12-ounce bag cranberries, fresh or frozen (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Turn the oven on and set it to 350 degrees. Spray the loaf pans with cooking spray (or grease them with oil).
  2. Put the flours, sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt in the large bowl and use a whisk to mix it well.
  3. Put the canola oil and orange zest in a small bowl and use a mixer or spoon to combine until well blended. Add the eggs and yogurt (or buttermilk) and mix well.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and gently stir in the cranberries and walnuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Put the pans in the oven and bake until a toothpick, when you stick it into the loaf, comes out clean with no batter on it, about 45 minutes.
  6. Set the loaves aside to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn the loaves out onto the cooling rack and let them cool completely. Leave at room temperature for up to 3 days.

All recipes reprinted with permission from Chop Chop© Magazine.

You can find even more recipes and tips on how to eat better with your family at yumpower.com and powerup4kids.org.

About Gina Houmann, MPH, RDN, LD

Gina Houmann is a Program Manager for several organization-wide nutrition programs at HealthPartners Institute. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. Gina enjoys partnering with clinicians across HealthPartners and Park Nicollet to provide nutrition programs and resources to better serve patients. Previously, she provided nutrition counseling and education for patients at Melrose Center. In her free time, Gina enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, 5-year-old son and 2-year-old twin daughters.

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