Chef creates healthy Thanksgiving sides

- Chef and author Nancy Waldeck of Taste and Savor Healthy Cooking took on our challenge of lightening up the heaviest meal of the year.

She created  healthy side dishes, including “Creamy Mac and Cheese – with a Secret,” and a carrot pie.

Below are the recipes Nancy put together.

For more information, visit Nancy’s website, tasteandsavor.com

Here are some of the recipes

Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Honey Dressing

Everyone needs a little crunch at the table to balance all the rich and heavy dishes of fall. Plus, this recipe can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge – assembly is quick the day of your event.

  • 2 Cups Prepared Tri Color Quinoa
  • 2 Cups Shredded Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 Cups Shredded Carrots
  • ½ Cup Thinly Sliced Green Onions
  • 2 Cups Halved Red Grapes
  • ½ Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • ½ Cup Chopped Toasted Pecans

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss with the Honey Dressing.

Honey Dressing

  • ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 - 6 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 TB Dijon Mustard
  • 2 TB Honey
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Shake the ingredients together in a jar.

Roasted Veggies

There’s nothing easier OR more delicious that roasted veggies. You can serve them room temperature – leaving lots of room in the oven for last minute dishes.

  • 1 – 2 lbs. Your Favorite Veggies like asparagus spears, green beans, broccoli or cauliflower florets, chopped sweet potatoes or squash
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste
  • 6 Chopped Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 TB Lemon Juice

Toss the veggies in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, place on a sheet tray. Roast in a 400F oven until browned around the edges. Depending on how hard the veggies are, you may need to roast from between 20 and 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Toss the tomatoes with the lemon juice and sprinkle over the veggies.

Creamy Mac and Cheese (with a secret)

Here in the South, lots of folks call Mac and Cheese one of their favorite sides for the holidays. Here’s a version you can feel a little better about eating – and no one will guess the creamy flavor comes from white beans!

  • 3 TB Unsalted Butter
  • 2 TB Grated Garlic
  • 3 TB Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3  Cups Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Tsp Dry Mustard
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 Cups Grated Sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan + 2 TB
  • 1 ½ Cups Whole Wheat Pasta, Cooked and Drained
  • 1 (15 OZ) Can of Cannellini Beans, Drained, Rinsed and Pureed
  • 1 Cup Panko Crumbs (Whole Wheat if you can find it)
  • 2 TB Minced Parsley or Basil

Step One - Preheat the oven to 350F. In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, and sauté for about a minute until fragrant. Whisk in the flour and stir while the flour toasts to a light tan. (You’re making a simple roux.)

Step Two - Pour in the milk, continuously stirring, until the roux has thickened. Season with salt, pepper, and mustard.

Step Three - In a food processor, puree the beans. Put the pasta in a bowl and add the beans, cheddar and the Parmesan, stirring until it melts.

Step Four - Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and sprinkle the panko and herbs over the casserole. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, until bubbly and browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Thai Inspired Pumpkin Coconut Soup with Roasted Shrimp

Lots of Thanksgiving dinners start with a seafood appetizer. This is a creamy soup with delicious roasted shrimp – without any cream. The Asian flavors are a good contrast to all the traditional tastes of the season, too!

  • 1 TB Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Cups Chopped Red Onion
  • 1 TB Grated Garlic
  • 1 TB Grated Ginger
  • 1 TB Garam Masala
  • 1 (15 OZ) Can Solid Pack Pumpkin
  • 1 (15 OZ) Can Coconut Milk
  • 4 Cups Veg Stock
  • ½ Cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1 TB Lemon Juice
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • 8 – 16 Roasted Large Shrimp

Step One - Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add the onion. Cook and stir for 3 – 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the garlic, ginger and garam masala and cook and stir until the mixture is aromatic – about 1 minute. Add in the pumpkin, coconut milk and veg stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step Two - In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt and lemon juice together. Place a “plop” on the top of each bowl of soup and garnish with shrimp and pumpkin seeds.

*Roasted in the Shell Shrimp: Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the shrimp with a TB of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 4 minutes or until opaque.

Creamy Carrot Pie

This creamy pie uses one of the easiest-to-find and prepare ingredients. Baby carrots in a bag! Full of spicy goodness, it's a fun way to “shake up” dessert for the holidays.

  • ½ Cup Coconut Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Cups Baby Carrots
  • 2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Tsp Ground Allspice
  • ½ Tsp Ground Cloves
  • ½ Tsp Ground Ginger
  • ¼ Tsp Mace or Nutmeg
  • ½ Tsp Vanilla
  • ½ Tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 1/8 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 4 Large Egg Whites
  • 1 (15 OZ) Can Coconut Milk
  • 1 Prepared 9” Pie Crust (I buy the pie crusts from Whole Foods and roll them out into a glass pie pan.)

Step One - Preheat oven to 350F. Cook the carrots in boiling water until soft, about 20 minutes or until soft. Puree the carrots in a blender until smooth.

Step Two - In a large bowl mix the pureed carrots with sugars and spices. Whisk in the eggs one at a time and add the coconut milk. Pour into the prepared piecrust and bake at 350 for 45-60 min until center is almost set. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Bean Pie

Serves 8

Why this pie is better: we reduced amount of sugar in this pie. The mashed beans are a great source of protein and fiber and we also used lots of healthy spices and skim milk, less butter and 1 less egg yolk.

  • 2 Cups Rinsed, Drained and Mashed White Beans (Cannellini, Navy or Great Northern)
  • 6 TB Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 ½  Tsp *Garam Masala
  • ½ Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • ½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼  Tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 3 TB Unsalted Butter
  • 10 Oz Evaporated Skim Milk, divided in half
  • ¼ Cup Raw Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Large Egg White
  • 1 TB Vanilla Extract
  • 1 9” Unbaked Wheat Pie Shell

Step One - In a large pot place beans, the brown sugar, the spices, salt, butter, and 5 oz of the evaporated milk. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove, and use an immersion blender to make the mixture smooth.

Step Two - In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining evaporated milk, raw sugar, eggs, whites and vanilla extract.  Whisk well.  Pour the egg mixture into the warm bean mixture. Pour the prepared filling into the 9” unbaked pie crust.  Place it on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour at 350F, or until the center is set.

*Garam Masala is a Indian spice blend that can be found in the grocery store. If you don’t have it, just substitute ½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon, ½ Tsp Ground Coriander and ½ Tsp Ground Allspice for the 1 ½ Tsp of Garam Masala.

Sweet Potato Pie

Why this pie is better: we reduced the amount of sugar in this pie, added lots of healthy spices, skim milk instead of cream and one less egg yolk.

For the Filling:

  • 2 Cups Mashed, Cooked Sweet Potato
  • 6 TB Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 ½  Tsp Garam Masala*
  • ½ Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • ½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼  Tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 3 TB Unsalted Butter
  • 10 Oz Evaporated Skim Milk, divided in half
  • ¼ Cup Raw Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Large Egg White
  • 1 TB Vanilla Extract

Step One - In a large pot place the sweet potato, the brown sugar, the spices, salt, butter, and 5 oz of the evaporated milk. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove, and use an immersion blender to make the mixture smooth.

Step Two - In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining evaporated milk, raw sugar, eggs, whites and vanilla extract.  Whisk well.  Pour the egg mixture into the warm sweet potato mixture. Pour the prepared filling into a pie crust.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour at 350F, or until the center is set.

*Garam Masala is a Indian spice blend that can be found in the grocery store. If you don’t have it, just substitute ½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon, ½ Tsp Ground Coriander and ½ Tsp Ground Allspice for the 1 ½ Tsp of Garam Masala.

Butternut Squash Pie

Serves 8

Why this pie is better: We use less sugar, fewer egg yolks and fresh squash for the recipe. Plus you have the start of a good squash soup with your leftover coconut milk and squash!

  • 2 Cans Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1 Small Butternut Squash
  • 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs, Beaten
  • 2 Large Egg Whites, Beaten
  • 1 TB Cornstarch
  • 2 TB Apple Cider
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • ½ Tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 9” Unbaked Pie Shell

Step One - Preheat the oven to 425F. Put the coconut milk in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Put in the oven and roast for 30 – 45 minutes or until soft. Scoop out the flesh and reserve 1 cup.

Step Two - Take the coconut milk out of the freezer. Open the cans carefully and scoop the solid coconut cream out of the can. Reserve 1 cup.

Step Three - Put the 1 Cup of squash and the 1 Cup of coconut cream together in a bowl with the brown sugar, eggs, whites, cornstarch, cider, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Pour the ingredients into the unbaked prepared pie shell. Cook at 425F for 10 minutes, and then lower the heat to 300F. Cook for about 1 hour. The pie is done when the filling is slightly puffy and set in the middle.

EASY Pumpkin Pie

Serves 8

Why this pie is better: We use maple syrup, one less egg yolk and lots of healthy spices in the pie – no cream or full fat milk – just a little light cream cheese.

  • 1 (15 oz)  Can Usweetened Pumpkin Puree
  • ½ Cup Maple Syrup (Grade B if you can find it)
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ Tsp Ground Ginger
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cloves
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cardamom
  • 2 TB Bourbon, (or Apple Cider)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 Large Egg Whites
  • 4 Oz Light Cream Cheese
  • 1 9” Unbaked Pie Shell

Preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk together the pumpkin, syrup, spices and bourbon, (apple cider), together in a large bowl. With a mixer, beat together the egg, egg whites and cream cheese together until smooth, add in the pumpkin mixture and beat until combined. Pour the ingredients into the unbaked prepared pie shell and cook until set in the middle – about 1 hour.

Creamy Shallot and *Manchego Souffle

Serves 12

  • 3 Large Shallots, Chopped
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ Cups Basil Leaves
  • ½ Cup Parsley Leaves
  • ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ Tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Cups Light Ricotta Cheese
  • 4 (8 Oz) Pkg Light Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
  • 1 Cup Grated *Manchego Cheese
  • 3 TB Cornstarch
  • 5 Large Eggs

Step One - Spray 12 ceramic ramekins with nonstick spray. In a small pan over medium high heat, sauté the shallots in the olive oil until soft, about 2 – 3 minutes. Season with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper.

Step Two - In a food processor, puree the basil, parsley, oil, salt, pepper and garlic until smooth.

Step Three - In a mixer, beat the ricotta, cream cheese, Manchego and cornstarch until smooth and light - about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Remove one third of the cheese mixture to a separate bowl.

Step Four - Whisk the basil mixture from the food processor and the sautéed shallots into the two-thirds of the cheese mixture bowl until well blended.

Step Five - Pour the basil cheese filling into the bottom of each ramekin, and spread an even layer of the plain cheese mixture on top. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

*Manchego is a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain that you can find in the grocery store.

Italian Root Vegetable Risotto

  • 5 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 TB Unsalted Butter, Divided in 1 TB each
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Red Onion, Minced
  • 3 Carrots, Grated, (about 1 Cup)
  • 3 Parsnips, Grated, (about 1 Cup)
  • 1 ½ Cup Arborio Rice
  • ½ Cup Dry White Wine
  • ½ Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano

Step One - Place the vegetable stock in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer.

Step Two - In a large heavy skillet; combine 1 TB butter, olive oil, and minced onion. Cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent and softened but not browned.

Step Three - Add the carrots and the parsnips and cook until softened - about 5 more minutes.

Step Four - Add the rice and stir, continuing to cook until well coated with oil and very slightly browned, about 5 minutes more.

Step Five - Once the rice is toasted, add white wine slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon and increase the heat to medium. When the white wine is absorbed, start adding the warm vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring often, and adding more stock when previous batch is almost absorbed. Continue adding the stock as the rice absorbs the liquid. Add the liquid a little at a time while stirring constantly in order to release the rice's starch. You want the grains of rice to be firm not mushy or chalky.  This whole process should take about 20 minutes and the risotto will be a little chewy (to your liking) and should have a creamy texture.

Step Six - Right before serving; stir in the additional 1 TB Butter and the Parmesan.
 

FAST FOOD FACT:
Risotto means, "little rice" in Italian. Risotto differs from other rice dishes in that the cooking vessel is never covered, and liquid is added bit by bit, stirring often, until the rice is cooked but still a little al dente. You do not want it to be mushy, and you want to stir often with a wooden spoon so you scrape off (gently) some of the starch around the rice to make a creamy sauce -- that's why you need to use short or medium-grain risotto rice, which has this starch. Long-grain rice does not. The most commonly used rice for risotto is Arborio rice from Italy. Its short, fat grains have a hard starchy center and a soft starchy shell. So it makes sense that when cooked, the soft shell produces creaminess while the center remains crunchy.

Golden Fennel Puree with Rosemary

  • 3 Large Fennel Bulbs, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 TB Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 Large Head Cauliflower (or 3 bags Florets)
  • 1 Large Clove Garlic, peeled
  • 2 TB Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ Cup Skim Milk
  • 1 TB Freshly Chopped Rosemary
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Step One - Preheat the oven to 400F. On a half sheet pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment and sprayed with nonstick spray, toss the Fennel, Onion and Salt and Pepper with the 2 TB Olive Oil. Roast for 45 – 60 minutes or until the fennel and onions are tender.

Step Two - While the fennel is roasting, cook the cauliflower and garlic clove in boiling salted water until tender – about 10 minutes. Using the immersion blender, puree. Then add the fennel mixture and puree again

Step Three - Melt the butter with the skim milk and rosemary over medium low heat. Add to the fennel mixture and stir. Taste for salt and pepper and sprinkle with additional to taste.

Maple. Toasted Pecan and Sweet Potato Souffle

  • 3 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 TB Maple Syrup, (Grade B if you can find it)
  • ½ Cup Skim Milk
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • 2 TB Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon OR 1 Tsp *Dukkah
  • ½ Cup Toasted Chopped Pecans
  • 2 TB Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 TB Unsalted Butter - Melted

Step One - Bake the sweet potatoes in a 400F oven for about 1 hour, or until tender. Remove the potatoes from the oven and lower the heat to 350F. Remove the skin from the potatoes and mash. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, maple syrup, milk, egg, vanilla and salt – use an immersion blender to puree all the ingredients. Pour into an ovenproof casserole dish.

Step Two - Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, (Dukkah), pecans, flour and butter.

Step Three - Top the potatoes with the pecan mixture. Bake until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.

*Dukkah is an African Spice Dip

  • ½ Cup Salted Peanuts
  • 1 Tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Kosher Salt to taste

Grind the peanuts to a coarse powder in a mortar, blender or food processor, then add the ground mixed spice, chili powder and a little salt.

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