A Healthy Spin on Holiday Favorites & Orange Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes with Maple Pecans
I am so excited about Thanksgiving, and as we plan our menus, I wanted to share these healthy spins on some classic holiday favorites, as well as a few tips for adding flavor and texture to dishes in a slightly more “forgiving” way.
No respectable Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without a generous serving of mashed potatoes. Instead of using butter and cream, try using olive oil to add a rich flavor to your spuds. I also like to use a bit of vegetable broth, soy milk or coconut milk, or even pureed raw almonds, cashews, or macadamias! Stirring through some fresh herbs adds gorgeous flavor and color too. Try a bit of wasabi paste or some chili flakes for an extra kick!
I always lightly blanch my green beans in vegetable broth before using to add extra flavor. It gets you off to a great start. Try using raw nuts like almonds and walnuts that have been lightly sauteed in olive oil, coconut oil and garlic, and tossing together with some lemon juice, lemon zest, and sea salt. SO easy, light, and incredibly tasty.
For a quick easy gluten free stuffing, I love using mashed firm tofu or cauliflower to replicate bread crumbs. Stirring through some vegetable broth, tahini or almond butter, tomato paste, fresh herbs, salt, and raw nuts or seeds creates a healthy, tasty, no-bake side dish in minutes.
Bring a variety of dried fruits and juice to a boil with fresh cranberries to add natural fruit-inspired sweetness to reduce the amount of added sweetener required to create magic with homemade cranberry sauce. Citrus zest and spices like ginger heighten the flavors and add a bit of an edge.
Instead of using lots of refined sugar to create candied nuts, simple bring some pure maple syrup to a boil, allow to lightly caramelize with some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamon. You could also use a pumpkin pie spice blend. Instead of coating and roasting nuts like pecans and walnuts, roast first for about 10 minutes, then coat with maple mixture, and allow to harden at room temperature. This creates a delightful smokey flavor.
Finally, I want to share my recipe for Orange Cinnamon Mashed Sweet Potatoes. The beauty of sweet potatoes or yams is that they are so naturally sweet, you don’t really need to add too much to make them taste amazing. Keeping them simple is the key. Instead of adding butter and cream, try adding some fruit juice like orange juice, a dash of cinnamon, and maple syrup. Or you could stir through some coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk. Garnishing with some candied nuts, seeds, or shredded coconut adds a little something extra, and makes for a gorgeous presentation.
Orange Cinnamon Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- 8 pounds sweet potato (about 12 – 14 large); makes about 6 cups mashed puree
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened orange juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- 1 cup Spicy Roasted Candied Maple Pecans
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Scrub the sweet potatoes, prick them a few times with a fork, and bake for about an hour until soft.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and scoop out flesh.
- Mash with a potato masher, or place in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Add orange juice, maple syrup and salt, and mix until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Pulse the candied maple pecans in your food processor just a few times to coarsely chop them.
- Stir the pecans through the sweet potato and top with a sprinkle to serve.
- Adjust salt and maple syrup to taste once pecans have been added, and enjoy!
What’s YOUR favorite healthy holiday dish?
Happy Thanksgiving. May your day be filled with love, laughter, gratitude, and delicious food.