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Utilizing Hearty Winter Crops in

Thanksgiving Sides
By: Jaclyn Schermer, Keene State College Dietetic Intern, November 2016
The Turkey is burnt, Uncle Bryan yells while the babies are crying. The water is
boiling over for the potatoes, and the gravy spilt all over the dinner rolls. Children rough
housing in the basement of grandmas house, and one child is requiring stitches. A
young cousin burped the ABCs until they threw up on G. Uncles and Aunts are late
because somebody had an accident on the highway.
Does this sound like your Thanksgiving? I knew it! Healthy adaptations to tradition
recipes, like the ones below, will make your familys health one less thing to stress
about this year.
Thanksgiving for us is traditionally a holiday for feasting. Common foods you will find on
a New Englanders table may include: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie,
squash, green bean casserole, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and cranberries.
These foods are extremely tasty and are often loaded with unhealthy fats, excessive
amounts of sodium, and increased sugar.
Here is a list of common winter crops across the nation to use in traditional
Thanksgiving recipes that will help decrease your intake of sodium, saturated fats, and
sugar this holiday season. Common winter crops around the nation are often: broccoli,
Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, green beans, and many others. These vegetables
are naturally low in sodium, low in saturated fat, higher in fiber, and rich in vitamins and
minerals. While these foods are often prepared in a less nutritious way during the
holidays, there are ways to still utilize these winter crops and taking a healthy approach
to thanksgiving sides
Starting with Campbells Soups Green Bean Casserole recipe and a food intake
monitoring app MyFitnessPal, the tracker database provided nutrition data for one
serving of the casserole. One serving contains 1055 mg sodium and 4g saturated fat.
The fat content in the dish contains only 2g of the good fats, which are unsaturated
compared to the saturated which is 4g. This is giving consumers more unhealthy fats
then healthy ones. Research has shown a strong correlation between excessive
sodium and saturated fat intake an increased risk of heart disease 1,2,3.
It is easy to adapt the Green Bean Casserole recipe to make it a healthier option. The
recipe below contains 151mg sodium and 2g of saturated fat, reducing sodium by 86%
and saturated by 50% while still getting your favorite holiday casserole. The fats in this
recipe contain 4g of the healthier, unsaturated fats and only 2g of the saturated,
unhealthy fats.
Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable that is harvested in the fall and can be stored in
a cool area for months prior, and cauliflower is a vegetable harvested in the winter.
Sweet potato recipes for the holidays can have excessive amounts of sugar and
calories. Krafts Sweet Potato Bake (www.kraftrecipes.com ) contains 17grams of sugar
and has 240 kcals per serving. Excessive sugar intake may lead to weight gain cause
people to become overweight or obese. If patients become overweight or obese this
increases the risk for diabetes and heart disease 4,1.
The sweet potato and cauliflower mash recipe below that contains just 8 grams of sugar
per serving. This is 47% less sugar than the original Kraft recipe. Besides sugar, total
calories also drop from 240kcals in the Kraft recipe to 157kcals, which is a 66%
decrease in calories. You are still able to get yummy sweet potatoes but arent having
an increased risk for diabetes or heart disease.

Healthy Green Bean

Recipe acquired from:
Serves: 8-10

Crispy Onion Topping Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled, quartered

and thinly sliced

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan


1/4 teaspoon salt

Mushroom Sauce Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces white button or baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup skim milk

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


The Casserole:

Begin by preparing the onion topping. Then make the mushroom sauce. While those
are cooking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and bring a large stockpot of water to a boil.
Add the green beans and boil for 3-5 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of
doneness. Drain the green beans, then transfer them to the bowl of ice water and stir
them in. This will stop them from cooking any farther. When the mushroom sauce is
ready, transfer the green beans into the pan with the sauce and toss until combined.
Pour the green bean mixture into a baking dish that has been greased with cooking
spray. Then sprinkle the onion topping evenly on top. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve

The Crispy Onion Topping:

Heat all but 1 T oil with the onions and saut, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and
starting to brown around the edges. Transfer the onions to a separate mixing bowl.Add
the remaining half tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat.. Add in breadcrumbs and stir.
Cook, stirring once every 30 seconds or so, for about 3-5 minutes until the
breadcrumbs are toasted and lightly golden. Remove from heat and transfer the Panko
to the bowl with the onions. Stir in the Parmesan and salt, and toss the mixture until
combined. Set aside.

The Mushroom Sauce:

In the same saut pan that you used to cook the onion and Panko, heat oil and add
mushrooms and saut for 3-5 minutes until they are soft and cooked, stirring
occasionally. Add the garlic and saut for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant,
stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Saut for an additional
minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.

Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring
the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in
Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese is melted. Reduce heat to low until
the sauce is ready to be tossed with the green beans.

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Mash

Acquired from: www.thefitfork.com

Serves: 4-6


2 pounds sweet potatoes

1 pound cauliflower florets

3 tablespoons milk of choice, preferably skim

cup plain or lowfat Greek yogurt

teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh chopped parsley for garnish


1. Peel and cut sweet potato into 1 -inch chunks.

2. In large pot with steam basked, steam sweet potato and cauliflower with 1 inch of
water in bottom of pot. Vegetables will be
ready in about 10 12 minutes, or when
fork tender.

3. Place in large bowl and mash the potato

and cauliflower with the milk. Stir in the
Greek yogurt, garlic powder, salt and
pepper. If too thick, add milk 1
tablespoons at a time, until desired
consistency is achieved. Garnish with
chopped fresh parsley.


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