Thanksgiving Staples Done Right

Thanksgiving food has a bad rap. Not only is the holiday a celebration of gratitude, giving, and grub, but Thanksgiving dinner can actually be pretty freaking healthy with a little bit of thought, control, and balance. So, ignore the hype, don’t fast for the feast, and go into the meal knowing that it’s not your last, so enjoy! Here’s the deal on those Thanksgiving staples:

thanksgiving

Turkey: the main event. Turkey is actually a healthy, low-fat lean protein with tons of vitamins, so let it take center stage on your plate. It’s when the turkey is covered in stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and devoured alongside alcohol, dinner rolls, and dessert. So, instead of using the turkey as a means to hold these other foods, actually enjoy the turkey itself!

Potatoes: potatoes are a healthy, starchy veg BUT they’re usually ‘buttered up’ (literally) with tons of butter, cream, and cheese, adding tons of fat. If you’re like us, you’d take sweet potatoes any day over regular white potatoes – they’re sooo much sweeter! Luckily, sweet potatoes are also sooo good for you, full of Vitamins A, B, and C, fiber, and beta-carotene. Just keep it simple with a little bit of oil (olive or coconut) or butter and some cinnamon, rosemary, or your favorite spices. If you agree to disagree and prefer the white mashers over orange, simply enjoy a small serving, not a potato volcano on your plate…unless you’re gearing up for a post-Thanksgiving marathon. In that case, you’ll actually need those carbs!

Brussels Sprouts: this cruciferous veggie is a fall staple in the OHH kitchen. Full of fiber, they’ll help you to digest your holiday meal while lowering cholesterol and risk of certain cancers when eaten regularly. Plus, they’re so damn good! No reason not to pass the sprouts, please!

Cranberry Sauce: sadly, we’re in America and that means that your traditional cranberry sauce is more like a gelatin of sugar (with very little to no cranberries) that plops out of a can. Not so appealing. Why not try to make your own, because real cranberries are actually a great source of antioxidants. Here’s a super simple recipe without the added sugar or chemicals!

Casseroles: yeah, not so healthy. The dish on casseroles: not to rag on this classic holiday dish, but a casserole is basically an excuse to make a normally healthy food (like green beans) into a cheesy, buttery, saucy, glutinous dish, with a bit of veggies hiding inside. Keep things simple and skip the ‘role, just stick to the good old veggies above!

Dessert: Have your cake and eat it too. Pumpkin and pecan pie, yum yum. Ok, so not the healthiest things in the world, but again, pumpkin and pecans themselves are both full of nutrients, so if you’re in charge of the pie, aim to bulk up these ingredients and dial down the sugar. Either way, there’s no need to turn down Thanksgiving dessert, just have a few bites of your very favorite, enjoy the deliciousness, and be done with it. It’s when dessert becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet that’ll have you feeling YUCK with a side of guilt.

One Healthy Breakdown: Thanksgiving is one meal, one day, and the focus should be on gratitude over grub…but enjoy the grub too! Happy, healthy holiday!

Pumpkin Pie Parfait

Who else has fallen deep into a love affair with pumpkin season and all it encompasses? I love it all, from the lattes to the scented candles. Pumpkin is an energy-packed vegetable low in fat, sugar, and calories, but high in flavor, nutrients, and warmth. If you’ve already mastered the pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, and, of course, pumpkin pie, I happily bring you the prettiest in pumpkin creations: the Pumpkin Pie Parfait.

photo 3Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (I love Farmer’s Markets’ organic canned pumpkin puree)
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or yogurt of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon honey or pure maple syrup
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon granola
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon pecans & walnuts (or nuts of choice)

Instructions:

In two separate bowls, mix the following:

  1. pumpkin, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and honey or maple syrup
  2. yogurt and vanilla

In a bowl, cup, or glass of choice, layer the following:

  1. a large spoonful pumpkin mixture
  2. a large spoonful yogurt mixture
  3. sprinkle granola or healthy cereal
  4. 1/2 of the shredded coconut
  5. a large spoonful pumpkin mixture
  6. a large spoonful yogurt mixture
  7. remaining shredded coconut
  8. a large spoonful pumpkin mixture
  9. top with nuts

Stick a spoon in it and enjoy!

sitting on the fenceOne Healthy Breakdown: pumpkin spice and everything nice…what’s not to love?!

Healthy Pumpkin Pie

This healthy pumpkin pie recipe is delicious, vegan, and gluten-free!

pumpkpieCrust:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp flax
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance (or preferred butter/margarine/oil, melted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease a 9 inch pie pan
  3. Process oats into a fine powder using a food processor or blender (or you can just buy oat flour!) and set aside
  4. Put the pecans in the food processor and process until it starts to clump and oils are released (around 45 seconds), when finished you should be able to make a ball with the pecans
  5. Melt Earth Balance and brown rice syrup in the microwave for 30sec.
  6. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (it’s easiest to do this part by hand)
  7. Put the pecan dough in the pie dish and spread out evenly, bringing it up the sides to make a crust. Press down firmly
  8. Poke the crust with a fork a few times
  9. Pre-bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  10. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Filling:

  • 2 ¼ cups canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance (or preferred butter/margarine/oil)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp brown rice flour (or tapioca flour or cornstarch or arrowroot powder)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
  1. Whisk together the maple syrup and brown rice flour.
  2. Add all ingredients and whisk together
  3. Scoop the filling into the crust
  4. Cover the pie with aluminum foil
  5. Bake for 50-55 minutes at 350F
  6. Let cool for 1 hour on the counter
  7. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (I’ve found its best the longer you wait, even a few days later, so you can prepare this early for Thanksgiving to relieve some of the cooking stress!)
  8. Slice and serve!! For some added deliciousness, serve with some homemade coconut whipped cream!
  9. Serve and enjoy with family!

One Healthy Breakdown: Better than your average pie and much healthier too!

(Recipe slightly adapted from Oh She Glows)

*About Josie: I’m originally from Sag Harbor and I’m currently a student at Boston University working towards becoming a registered dietician and getting my Masters in Nutrition. I’ve been gluten-free for almost 2 years and vegan for a little over a year. My family is having a completely vegan, gluten-free Thanksgiving this year! I’ve been testing out new recipes to serve and this one was a real hit with my roommates (so hopefully it will be a hit with my family too!)

Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes

pumpkins

Makes one batch (4) of pumpkin pancakes, for one serving, simply cut recipe in half.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour of choice (I used almond flour)
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (if needed for consistency)
  • 2 dates (optional for sweetness)

pancakes

Mix all ingredients and use your best pancake pan to make, flipping half way through. Once done, add your favorite topper (butter, coconut butter, maple syrup, or nut butter.)

One Healthy Breakdown: pumpkin pancakes are the best things about fall mornings!