A Fresh, Nutritious Take on Your Favorite Holiday Dishes

by The Puritan's Pride Editorial Team

Like you, there are certain dishes that absolutely must show up on our holiday dining tables.

But since we’re all about health and wellness here at Puritan’s Pride, we took some of those family favorites and gave them a more nutritious makeover. We cooked. We tasted. We tested. We loved these recipes. Yes, it’s a tough job, but someone has got to do it.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Skip the sticky melted marshmallow topping and opt for an equally sweet streusel topping that also adds a bit of crunch with delicious, nutritious pecans.

Ingredients

For the potatoes:

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup evaporated low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cooking spray

For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. To prepare potatoes, place them in a large pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until tender; drain. Cool 5 minutes. Next, place potatoes in a large bowl; add granulated sugar, brown sugar, ginger, evaporated milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and vanilla.

Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs one at a time; beat well after adding each egg. Coat a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with cooking spray – if you use a glass dish, make sure it is safe to use under a broiler. Pour potato mixture into baking dish.

Topping directions

Combine flour, packed brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon salt; stir with a whisk. Stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over potato mixture; arrange pecans evenly over top. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes or just until golden. Remove casserole from oven and preheat broiler. Broil casserole about 45 seconds or until topping is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving (1).

Green Bean Casserole

This holiday favorite has been showing up on dining tables since the mid-1950s when it was invented to get home cooks to buy more cream of mushroom soup. This nutritious version is also tastier, in our humble opinion, because we’ve gotten rid of the pre-packaged components.

Use frozen green beans for the convenience and nutrient content, since the beans are flash frozen at the peak of freshness. Skip the canned soup too, which is typically loaded with sodium. Lastly, dump the pre-packaged fried onions and create your own crispy onion topping. Trust us, it’s simple and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided (1 tbsp. for the green bean mixture and 2 tbsps. for onion topping)
  • 1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, divided (half diced, half thinly sliced)
  • 8 ounces firm white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided (1 tsp. for green bean mixture and ¼ tsp. for onion topping)
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme or Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided into 2 equal portions
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry, (opt for sherry as opposed to cooking sherry as cooking sherry is typically loaded with sodium)
  • 1 pound frozen green beans, (about 4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder (more or less to taste)
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme (or Herbes de Provence) and pepper.

Cook, stirring often, until the mushroom juices are almost evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour over the vegetables; stir to coat. Add milk and sherry and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Stir in green beans and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in sour cream. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Topping directions

Whisk the remaining 1/3 cup flour, paprika, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Add sliced onion; toss to coat. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion along with any remaining flour mixture and cook, turning once or twice, until golden and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Spread the onion topping over the casserole. Bake the casserole until bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving (2).

Savory Sausage Stuffing

We know what you’re thinking…”Don’t mess with Mom’s recipe. It’s perfect just as it is.” We hear you and we know how you feel. But honestly, this one is so delicious you aren’t going to notice the wholesome ingredient swaps.

The secret to this tasty recipe “re-do” is threefold: skip the pre-packaged stuffing mix, swap turkey sausage for pork sausage, and use low-sodium broth.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of your favorite bakery-style crusty “white” bread (with some of the crust trimmed away)
  • 6 links sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered (if you can’t find cremini, substitute button or white mushrooms)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (if you can’t find fresh parsley, you may use 4 tablespoons of dried parsley or substitute another fresh herb like chervil)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth or turkey stock

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F. Slice bread into thick slices then cut into 1 ½-inch cubes. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. If there is too much bread for one pan to spread in a single layer, use two. Bake at 400° F for 10 minutes or until toasted. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.

Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 10 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan; cut crosswise into slices or crumble if you wish. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes. Combine bread cubes, sausage, and mushrooms in a large bowl. Heat skillet over medium-high heat.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Sauté 1 minute. Add to bread mixture. Combine eggs and broth, stirring with a whisk. Add to bread mixture; toss to coat. Spoon into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes or until browned (3).

Fruit Cake

Leave that stale, rum-soaked cake to holidays past and serve up a fruit cake people will actually enjoy. That’s right, fruit cake. This yummy holiday cake uses cranberries, but feel free to swap out the tart berries with some other seasonal fruit such as apples or pears. It also works well with slightly acidic fruit like peaches or plums.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided in half
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup unsalted walnut pieces
  • 3 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen – if using frozen, thaw first)
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk, at room temperature
  • Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cinnamon

Note: You can substitute other flours for the whole wheat pastry flour. The ratio is 1:1 if you use whole wheat flour, but the final product will be denser. Or you can substitute 1/2 cup cake flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (4).

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Heat brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons orange juice in a large (12-inch) cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the mixture starts to bubble. Turn off the heat and let cool. Coat the sides of the skillet with cooking spray.

Bring the remaining 1/4 cup orange juice and cranberries to a simmer in a separate medium saucepan, stirring often, until most of the cranberries have popped. Pour evenly over the cooled brown sugar mixture in the skillet. Add the walnut pieces.

Mix together the dry ingredients – whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Separate the egg whites and yolks. Place the yolks in a large bowl and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, oil, granulated sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture alternately with milk. (Begin and end this process with the flour.) Stir just until the flour is incorporated.

Beat the egg whites in a clean dry mixing bowl with clean dry beaters on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter until incorporated, and then gently fold in the rest. There should be no white streaks. Spread the batter over the cranberry/brown sugar mixture (in the cast iron skillet).

Place into the preheated oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate – caution the skillet handle may still be hot.

Let cool for 30 minutes more before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired. Sprinkle freshly ground cinnamon over the whipped cream, or directly onto the cake before serving (5).

Turkey Spice Rub

Now that you’ve got some of the side dishes covered, make sure you don’t forget the most important part of the holiday meal – the turkey! This year, wow your guests with a delectable spice rub.

Combine 2 tablespoons paprika, 2 teaspoons ground fennel, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves and 1 teaspoon cayenne in a bowl, and sprinkle generously over turkey. Season with salt and pepper (6).

Sources

  1. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sweet-potato-casserole-10000001854014/
  2. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/green_bean_casserole.html_0
  3. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/herbed-bread-stuffing-with-mushrooms-sausage-10000000780347/
  4. http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/ingredients/detail/whole-wheat-pastry-flour
  5. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/cranberry_upside_down_cake.html
  6. http://www.todaysparent.com/recipes/turkey-recipes-seasonings/

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