thanksgiving recipes

The Best Thanksgiving Grilled Cheese

 
cranberry grilled cheese
 

This recipe video was sponsored by Cape Cod Select Cranberries. I only work with brands that I truly like and would recommend. 

This recipe was part of the monthly #letsberealmeals recipe project, a project featuring simple, healthy recipes created by registered dietitians. Follow along here.


I'll be honest, I was pretty impressed with this grilled cheese. I even served it to a group of (harder to please) guys, who were equally as impressed. We tried it with both brie and white cheddar, both were good, but we all agreed the cheddar stood out over the brie. 

I grew up spending summers on Cape Cod back in Massachusetts, so I was excited to connect with Cape Cod Select Cranberries, and equally impressed I found them all the way out in Montana. These cranberries seem bigger, brighter, and even sweeter than the standard cranberries. Plus, the frozen version is super easy to cook with. I'm a big fan.

 
cheddar apple grilled cheese
 

I love a good cranberry sauce. And as much as I like sugar, many cranberry sauces have a bit much for me. I love the natural sweetness and slight tartness of cranberries and would rather not mask these natural flavors with a bunch of added sugar. This cranberry sauce I made is just the right amount of sweet and tart to compliment the cheddar and apples. If you prefer it sweeter, you can add more maple syrup.

Check out my latest recipe video below featuring this amazing cran apple grilled cheese!

 

Ingredients:

Cranberry Sauce
1.5 cups Cape Cod Select Cranberries
1 ripe orange, juiced
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Grilled Cheese
1/2 a Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly
2 oz white cheddar cheese
2 slices sourdough bread (I found cran orange sourdough in the bakery of my local store)
1/4 cup cranberry sauce

Your measurements for the grilled cheese may vary based on the size of your bread, use enough of each to cover one slice of bread in a single layer.

Directions:

1. Heat ingredients for cranberry sauce in a medium size pot over medium heat. As it begins to boil, mash the berries into a sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and it reaches your desired consistency.

2. Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread.

3.  On the unbuttered side of one slice of bread - layer cranberry sauce, then apples, then cheese. Top with the other slice of bread - buttered side facing out.

4. Heat fry pan over medium heat. Fry the sandwich on each side for about 3 minutes each until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown. I recommend covering the fry pan with a lid to keep the heat in and help the cheese melt without the bread burning.

5. Slice in half and enjoy!

Healthier Twists on Our Thanksgiving Faves

Thanksgiving dinner can be a perfectly healthy, well-balanced meal. We're presented with platters of vegetables and lean meat. The reason many of us walk away feeling over stuffed or even gain a few pounds over the holidays is not only the amounts we consume but how we traditionally prepare them. Many of our traditional faves are loaded with empty calories from excess sugar, butter, and cream. (Empty calories meaning ingredients or foods that provide little nutritional value - things like soda, candy, butter, bacon, etc.)

Listed below are a few healthier twists on some of our Thanksgiving favorites...

Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries are naturally a bit tart and require a bit of sweetness to cut some of the bite. However, many recipes call for way more sugar than necessary. You can usually cut the amount of sugar in a recipe (whether it is cranberry sauce or baked goods) in half! You can also sweeten with a splash of apple cider or fresh squeezed oranges for a bit more flavor and sweetness but less added sugar.
Here is a healthier and lower sugar cranberry sauce recipe from Cookie and Kate.

Gravy
Gravy is traditionally made from turkey drippings often containing a large amount of saturated fat. Saturated fat is the type of fat that is solid at room temperature. Eating too much saturated fat is not great for our heart health long term.
If you let your turkey drippings cool, you can scrape the fat off the top and discard. Typically gravy requires a type of roux to thicken the sauce. Instead of mixing flour and butter you can use cornstarch and water for the same effect.
Additionally, you could make this delicious mushroom gravy from Whole Foods. I made this recipe last year and it was a huge crowd pleaser!

Stuffing
Traditional stuffing is drenched in butter and often scattered with bacon or sausage. Although they taste great, they are foods that provide us with little health benefit. It is possible to create an equally delicious yet healthier stuffing. Try using a dash of olive oil just to prevent sticking and soaking in vegetable broth or a little white wine instead of the butter.
Try these healthier recipes: Martha Stewart's Healthy Harvest Stuffing or Gluten-Free Walnut, Kale, Quinoa Stuffing from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.

Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a staple at any Thanksgiving dinner table. I always recommend leaving the skins on potatoes because they're loaded with fiber. Many of us do not meet our recommended daily amount of fiber.
Fiber helps to fill us up and keep us full longer. It is also important for:
     - Digestion and normalizing bowel movements
     - Helping to lower cholesterol
     - Weight management
     - Blood sugar control
A few tips for healthier mashed potatoes:
     -Cut the amount of butter in half, gradually add it in to taste
     -Use skim or 1% milk over whole milk or cream or even add some low-fat greek yogurt for the same creaminess with added protein

Try these from Food and Wine. You could also try Mashed Sweet Potatoes or Mashed Cauliflower.

What healthy food swaps have you tried and loved for Thanksgiving?