The Physicians Committee is delighted to share this Thanksgiving menu full of tasty, healthful, and comforting dishes sure to satisfy any holiday appetite. The recipes featured here are traditional, but have a fun and interesting twist. We hope this will inspire you to prepare holiday meals without the need to indulge in high levels of fat, salt, and sugar. The key is to incorporate fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables into your meals and to keep your recipes simple. Make the most of vegetables and fruits when they are in season since this is when these ingredients tend to be at their tastiest! Tips like using vegetable broth in place of oil or creamed cashews in place of dairy products in soups make for tasty, yet healthy versions of traditional favorites. For more tips like this, click here.
A food processor turns this soup into a rich, creamy treat with a delightful mushroom flavor. Take comfort in knowing that this is lower in fat than your conventional dairy-laden bisque.
Makes 4 servings
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
salt, to taste
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
5 cups low-sodium mushroom broth
dairy-free (vegan) parmesan cheese substitute (optional)
Steam-fry onion in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat until soft but not browned, adding very small amounts of water as needed to prevent sticking and burning. (Or place in a microwavable dish, cover, and microwave on high for 3 minutes.)
Place broth, bay leaf, thyme, and oats in a medium saucepan. Add onion and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until oats are soft.
Meanwhile, steam-fry mushrooms in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over high heat, adding a sprinkle of salt and very small amounts of water as needed to prevent sticking and burning. Cook until mushrooms release and reabsorb their liquid. Remove from heat and set aside.
When oats are soft, remove bay leaf and puree the soup until creamy with a hand-held blender or in batches in a blender or food processor. (Remove the middle part of the blender or food processor’s lid so hot air can escape. Cover the hole loosely with a folded clean cloth while blending.)
Return the soup to the pan and add mushrooms, soy sauce, sherry, if using, salt, black pepper, and vegan parmesan substitute, if using. Serve hot.
Per serving (1/4 recipe): calories: 91; fat: 1.2 g; calories from fat: 11.7%; cholesterol: 0 mg; protein: 4 g; carbohydrates: 17.8 g; sugar: 4.2 g; fiber: 3.1 g; sodium: 567 mg; calcium: 26 mg; iron: 2 mg; vitamin C: 4.5 mg; beta-carotene: 751 mcg; vitamin E: 0.4 mg
Recipe by Bryanna Clark Grogan found in Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs by Neal Barnard, M.D.
Sweet potatoes, particularly white sweet potatoes, have a special lushness, making them creamy when mashed. The sage offsets the sweetness of the potatoes.
Makes 2 servings
1 small sweet potato, baked
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
6–8 sage leaves, chopped
Wrap the sweet potato in foil. Bake it at 450 F for 45 minutes. Mash the sweet potato with the salt and black pepper. In a small pan over medium heat, toast the sage leaves until they start to get crispy. Sprinkle the sage over the mashed sweet potatoes.
Options: If you would rather not turn on your oven, you can simply steam or boil the sweet potato until it is soft.
Core Concepts: Crispy sage makes a great topping for pastas, enchiladas, and any other dish with a deep flavor. Use sparingly.
Per serving (1/2 recipe): calories: 112; fat: 0.1 g; calories from fat: 0.8%; cholesterol: 0 mg; protein: 2 g; carbohydrates: 26 g; sugar: 5 g; fiber: 4 g; sodium: 342 mg
Recipe by Jason Wyrick found in 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health by Neal Barnard, M.D.
This is a very festive, yet simple and easy dish. Roasted delicata squash are filled with a wild rice pilaf studded with dried cranberries, shallots, celery, and toasted pecans. Serve this anytime in the fall or winter. It’s simple and easy enough to make on a weeknight for your family, but special and pretty enough for company.
Makes 4 servings
2 cups Imagine Foods No-Chicken Broth (or vegetable broth plus 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning)
1 cup wild rice blend (I use Lundberg farms brand; if you can’t find a blend, use ½ wild rice and half long-grain brown rice)
2 medium delicata squash
1 medium shallot, minced
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
2 tablespoons pecans, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Bring broth to a boil. Add rice, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45-50 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and stringy stuff. Place face down on parchment lined baking sheet for 30-40 minutes until tender when poked with a fork.
Toast pecans. Place pecans in a small skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant and just beginning to darken. Remove, cool, and chop.
Sauté shallot and celery with 2 tablespoons water in a small nonstick pan over medium-high heat until soft and slightly golden. Add a bit more water as necessary, but do allow the vegetables to brown slightly.
When rice is done, stir celery and shallot mixture, cranberries and half of parsley into pot. Fill squash boats with rice and top with pecans and sprinkle of parsley.
Per serving (1/4 recipe): calories: 310; fat: 3.6 g; saturated fat: 0.4 g; calories from fat: 9.7%; cholesterol: 0 mg; protein: 7.2 g; carbohydrates: 67.5 g; sugar: 20.2 g; fiber: 7.5 g; sodium: 500 mg; calcium: 95 mg; iron: 2.1 mg; vitamin C: 27 mg; beta-carotene: 7777 mcg; vitamin E: 2.7 mg
Recipe by Food for Life instructor Emily Webber
Fiber, protein, and vegetables are all rolled into one in this flavor-packed loaf. Add a leafy salad for an affordable, satisfying dinner.
Makes 8 servings
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
1 3/4 cups cooked or canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme, or both
10 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in water for 1 hour, drained, and chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 onion)
ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Lightly coat an 8-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil.
Put 1 tablespoon of the water and the mushrooms in a large skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Add 2 more tablespoons of the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as it evaporates. Transfer the mushrooms to a large bowl and set aside.
Put the beans, oats, and remaining 1/2 cup water in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. Combine the bean mixture, quinoa, peas, parsley, tomatoes, onion, and salt and pepper to taste with the mushrooms in the large bowl and stir well. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan and gently press down. Bake for an hour to an hour and 25 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Tip: Leftover slices are delectable in sandwiches or stuffed into whole wheat pita bread.
Per serving (1/8 recipe): calories: 172; fat: 2.6 g; saturated fat: 0.3 g; calories from fat: 12.7%; cholesterol: 0 mg; protein: 8.2 g; carbohydrates: 30.4 g; sugar: 3.7 g; fiber: 6.2 g; sodium: 215 mg; calcium: 46 mg; iron: 3.1 mg; vitamin C: 10 mg; beta-carotene: 458 mcg; vitamin E: 0.5 mg
Recipe by Ellen Jaffe Jones from Eat Vegan on $4 a Day
This version is every bit as good as mom’s. Whole-grain flour adds even more fiber.
Makes 2 servings
4 large medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup all-purpose whole wheat or rye flour
2 teaspoons raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 medium apples
Combine the dates, oats, flour, raisins, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Remove the apple cores to within 1/4 inch of the bottom of each apple. Put about 1 inch of water into a medium saucepan and then put the apples in the saucepan. Stuff each apple with as much of the date mixture as possible, allowing each one to overflow. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Serve hot, warm, or chilled.
Tip: Alternatively, the apples can be baked. Preheat the oven to 350 F, arrange the apples in an uncovered baking dish, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until soft.
Per serving (1/2 recipe): calories: 223; fat: 1.3 g; saturated fat: 0.2 g; calories from fat: 4.8%; cholesterol: 0 mg; protein: 4.3 g; carbohydrates: 53.6 g; sugar: 27.5 g; fiber: 8.4 g; sodium: 3 mg; calcium: 40 mg; iron: 1.5 mg; vitamin C: 5 mg; beta-carotene: 35 mcg; vitamin E: 0.5 mg
Recipe by Ellen Jaffe Jones from Eat Vegan on $4 a Day