Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Food

Everybody has to choose his or her own path on Thanksgiving. Will it be gorging to one's delight on traditionally rich and fattening Thanksgiving dishes? Will it be a road of strict, Ghandi-like asceticism, eschewing all but the most healthy, lowfat offerings?

I am pretty much planning on the middle road between the two extremes, concentrating on turkey (lots), salad, and roasted sweet potatoes. I can easily pass on the mashed potatoes and gravy, and I can resist the dressing (even though it's my special recipe, "Northwest Dressing" with lashings of oysters, filberts, and apple). But I'm having pie, for sure. My secretary is kindly making me her delectable marionberry pie (and yes, I do plan to share with others) and my sister is bringing a couple other pies (so that will protect "my" pie from being completely devoured, leaving a piece or two for a treat or breakfast the next day).

Here are a couple of recipes for easy Thanksgiving side dishes that are low in calories and pretty good for you. The jello dish* does have Splenda for sweetening, so it's not pure, but it is yummy and even people who aren't trying to be sugar-free will enjoy it. It's good for diabetics, too. I started making it many years ago when my grandmother was alive, and adopted it myself when I decided to change my eating habits.

Raspberry Applesauce Jello
One large or two small packages sugar-free raspberry jello**
2 cups boiling water
2 cups frozen raspberries (without added sugar)
2 cups unsweetened applesauce

Light & Fit vanilla yoghurt, or plain yoghurt sweetened with a little Splenda and vanilla

Dissolve jello in water. Add raspberries and stir until thawed. Add applesauce and mix well. Pour into glass baking dish and refrigerate until set. Top with vanilla yoghurt, if desired. (This can also be made in a jello mold if desired, but in that case, omit the topping.)

This sweet potato dish is very simple. I've made it a lot. I've also tinkered with it by adding spices such as cumin, cayenne pepper, even cinnamon to the diced sweet potatoes, or omitting the rosemary. Here I'm leaving it simple, just as the recipe is written. It's from Stop the Clock Cooking by Cheryl Forsberg. Obviously the quantities can be adjusted as you desire.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary
1½ pounds sweet potatoes
1½ tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil spray. Position a rack in the lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Scrub sweet potatoes well. Rinse and dry completely. Cut into ¾ inch dice. Cut out eyes and blemishes but do not peel.

Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. (Alternatively, it may be easier to toss with the olive oil in a bowl first, or often I just spray generously with olive oil spray instead the liquid oil.) Sprinkle with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat and place baking sheet in oven. Bake about 30 minutes, until golden outside and tender inside. (I am taking the recipe's word for it on the time here. I just bake until they are browned to my liking.) Turn potatoes once during baking.

A 2/3 cup serving has 102 calories and all kinds of good-for-you stuff. (Have a whole cup for only 153 calories!)

I also like to make a big green salad. This year I'm thinking of making this spinach salad instead. By coincidence, it is also a Cheryl Forsberg recipe. I like the dried cherries (and other stuff). Instead of the complicated dressing, though, I am going to make a vinaigrette*** using a cherry balsamic vinegar. I may saute some sweet onion to add to the salad, though, to keep that element in the recipe.

You may have heard on NPR (or the Iron Chef) that lobster was one of the foods served at the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving. If you can swing it (great for you East Coasters), steamed or boiled lobster would make a great add-on to a healthy Thanksgiving feast. Each ounce of plain lobster has only 29 calories, 6.2 grams of protein, and virtually no fat. Of course, just keep in mind that each tablespoon of melted butter adds 100 calories and beaucoup fat! I've never had lobster for Thanksgiving but I would love to make it a tradition.

But whatever you decide to eat for Thanksgiving, please be thankful that you have the ability to put good food on the table, and the good health to enjoy it. I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving and fine fellowship with your loved ones.****

*I'm not a huge fan of jello, per se, but the applesauce and raspberries give this a great texture that totally makes up for the jiggliness of typical jello.

**You could also use another flavor of red jello, and might want to tinker with the frozen fruit, trying perhaps strawberries or cherries instead.

***Balsamic Vinaigrette: Whisk together one tablespoon dijon mustard and four tablespoons balsamic vinegar (preferably cherry balsamic vinegar for this recipe). While whisking, slowly drizzle in four tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk until emulsified.

****Hopefully without too many family fights. I've been on one end, and the sidelines, of many a Thanksgiving battle!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Mmmmmm..... you had me at marionberry pie!!! That is one thing that I truly miss about the Pacific Northwest. I have never seen it outside of Oregon or Washington. I am SO jealous that you get my FAVORITE dessert. My sil is bringing tiramisu pudding. WTH?? How is that Thanksgiving?

Your roasted sweet potatoes sound yummy. I wish I had time to alter my menu for tomorrow. Maybe next week!

have a great Thanksgiving!