How To Create A Thanksgiving Menu That's Both Tasty And Healthy

Sunrise Senior Living  |  November 5, 2015
How To Create A Thanksgiving Menu That's Both Tasty And Healthy
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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you're probably starting to consider how to prepare a tasty menu for your feast. As a turkey is usually the main course, focus on the other three components of your Thanksgiving dinner: the appetizer, side dish and dessert. We've got you covered with some tasty, yet healthy, options! While you're "cleaning up" your Thanksgiving menu, also consider making a point not to overindulge during the holidays this year. Though it may be habit during holiday meals, try simply reducing your portions and avoid overeating until you are stuffed to the brim - you may be surprised by what a difference this makes!

Here are a few nutritious and mouthwatering options to consider that are easy to make for your Thanksgiving feast this year:

Appetizers

1. Spinach Artichoke Dip
This is a delicious dish that's sure to get the party started and stomachs growling.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach
  • 11/2 cups chopped frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Directions

To start, boil your spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water until they're tender. Drain and discard the liquid. Heat cream cheese in the microwave for 1 minute, or until soft and warm. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and serve hot.

2. Rosemary Roasted Cashews
Treat your loved ones to a brain-healthy appetizer that's just as nutritious as it is tasty and easy to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds cashew nuts
  • 2 Tbls. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbls. melted butter

Directions

Bake the nuts for about 10 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet. While they bake, mix the pepper, sugar, rosemary, butter and salt in a large bowl. Combine and toss the warm nuts with the mixture until completely covered. Serve warm.

Side dishes

1. Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Spinach and Walnuts
This unique side dish provides a delicious combination of vegetables and protein without sacrificing taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 Tbls. toasted chopped walnut

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat, stirring in the garlic and leeks. After they've softened, add the broth, quinoa, squash and raisins and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to a simmer until ingredients are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the spinach for 2-3 minutes and sprinkle with walnuts before serving.

2. Roasted Baby Potatoes With Rosemary And Garlic
Give your traditional potato side dish a healthy twist this year with this mouthwatering roasted potato recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds assorted baby potatoes, such as red-skinned, white-skinned and Peruvian purple, rinsed and halved
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbls. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions

After preheating the oven to 425°F, toss the potatoes, garlic, red onions, olive oil, salt and pepper together into a large bowl. Then spread the mixture out evenly on a baking sheet and roast for about 40-45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and crispy.

Desserts

1. Apple and Spice Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies are a classic, but why not mix things up this year with a healthy alternative that uses many of the season's staples?

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped apples
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions

Cream the shortening and brown sugar together before stirring in the baking soda, flour, salt and spices. Once ingredients become dampened and smooth, stir in the nuts, apples and raisins. Move mixture to a lightly greased baking sheet, dropping a tablespoon of the mixture 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes on 400°F. Then let cool.

2. Zucchini Cake With Cream Cheese Applesauce Icing
Prepare this nutritious spin on traditional cakes for a dessert that will have people talking.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs                                                        
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed dry
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbls. butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon-flavored applesauce
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, beat the white sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl. Combine the flour and wet mixtures and stir in the zucchini. Transfer to the prepared dish and bake for around 40 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned. Let it cool. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and butter in a bowl until smooth, stirring in applesauce and nutmeg. Add the confectioners' sugar until the frosting is smooth. Spread on the cooled cake and serve.

*Sunrise Senior Living is a National Strategic Partner for USDA’s MyPlate program.