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Ben’s Thanksgiving Survival Guide, Pt. 2

Posted November 5, 2010 by

Continuing our Thanksgiving Survival Guide series, here are a few more recipes to try out. Remember, healthy food doesn’t have to be an obligation—if you get creative you can make dishes that are just as delicious and flavorful, if not more so, than their fattening, unhealthy  alternatives!

Candied Sweet Potatoes Alternative: Cider-Glazed Roots with Cinnamon Walnuts

Using a Splenda blend allows us to reduce the sugar content of the glaze, while the variety of roots supplies a high amount of vitamins and minerals and produces a very colorful dish.

  • 3 pounds assorted root vegetables, peeled (see tip) and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. If using parsnips, quarter lengthwise and remove the woody core before cutting into 1-inch pieces. Whisk cider, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish until the sugar is dissolved. Add root vegetables and toss to coat. Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and stir the vegetables. Continue cooking, uncovered, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are glazed and tender, about 1 hour more. Meanwhile, place walnuts in a small skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add butter, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Stir until the butter melts and the nuts are coated. Spread out on a plate to cool slightly. Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon walnuts.

Tip: Beets, carrots and parsnips are easily peeled with a vegetable peeler, but for tougher-skinned roots like celeriac, rutabaga and turnips, removing the peel with a knife can be easier. Cut off one end of the root to create a flat surface to keep it steady on the cutting board. Follow the contour of the vegetable with your knife. If you use a vegetable peeler on the tougher roots, peel around each vegetable at least three times to ensure all the fibrous skin has been removed.

Potato Gratin Alternative: Root Vegetable Gratin

For this recipe, it is imperative to use Gruyère cheese and not substitute in a different variety. Having a nutty flavor itself, the Gruyère will help bring out the nutty flavor of the root vegetables.

  • 3 pounds assorted root vegetables, peeled (see tip) and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 1/3 cups non-fat milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs, (see tip)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. If using parsnips, quarter lengthwise and remove the woody core before cutting into 1/8-inch thick slices. Cook vegetables in a large pot of boiling water until barely tender, about 5 minutes. If using beats, cook separately unless you want a pinkish hue to all the vegetables. Drain. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer. Combine flour and the remaining 1/3 cup milk in a small bowl to make a smooth paste; stir into the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 3/4 cup cheese, thyme, salt and pepper. Combine breadcrumbs, the remaining 3/4 cup cheese and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl. Layer the vegetable slices in the prepared baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the top and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake the gratin until it is bubbling and the top is golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: Beets, carrots and parsnips are easily peeled with a vegetable peeler, but for tougher-skinned roots like celeriac, rutabaga and turnips, removing the peel with a knife can be easier. Cut off one end of the root to create a flat surface to keep it steady on the cutting board. Follow the contour of the vegetable with your knife. If you use a vegetable peeler on the tougher roots, peel around each vegetable at least three times to ensure all the fibrous skin has been removed. To make fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from country-style whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup crumbs.

Recipes originally provided by Eating Well.

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