November 23, 2020

Heart Healthy Sides for your Thanksgiving Feast

Healthy Living, Nutrition, Weight Loss

While turkey usually takes center stage at most Thanksgiving dinners, side dishes fill the majority of people’s plates. These tasty sides will turn Thanksgiving from “the holiday when everyone eats turkey” into a plentiful feast. This year, give your family and friends a delicious, healthy meal that they’ll be grateful to gobble up!

Balsamic Butternut, Kale and Cranberry Panzella


Roasted butternut squash:

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and sliced into 3/4 inch cubes

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Toasted croutons and seeds:

1 small loaf (about 1/2 pounds) crusty whole grain bread, sliced into 1-inch cubes

4 tablespoons seeds, such as pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds and/or sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Balsamic vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Kale salad:

1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed and chopped into small, bite-sized pieces

2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 medium shallot (the whole bulb, papery skin removed), sliced very thing


  1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the upper third and lower third of the over, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper for easier cleanup.
  2. Roast the squash: On one of your lined baking sheets, toss the cubed butternut in enough olive oil to lightly coat all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange the butternut in a single layer. Roast on the lower third rack until the butternut is tender throughout and caramelized on the edges, about 35 to 40 minutes, tossing at the 20 minute mark when you add the croutons during step 4.
  3. Prepare the croutons: On your other baking sheet, combine the cubed bread with the seeds and salt. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to lightly coat the bread. Don’t worry about trying to get the seeds to stick to the bread, just try to make sure they’re lightly coated in oil. Arrange the mixture in a single layer so no croutons are on top of each other.
  4. Once you have tossed the butternut squash and placed it back on the lower rack, place the sheet of croutons on the upper rack. Toast the bread for 10 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden. Remove the croutons from the over and check the squash — it will probably need 5 to 10 more minutes before the edges are caramelized. Once the squash is done, remove the pan from the over and set it aside to cool.
  5. To prepare the vinaigrette: whisk together all of the ingredients until emulsified.
  6. To prepare the kale: transfer the chopped kale to a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands until they are darker in color and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  7. Final assembly: add the grated cheese, cranberries and shallot to the bowl. Drizzle enough dressing into the bowl to lightly coat the leaves, then toss to coat. Add the roasted butternut and croutons and gently toss to combine. Drizzle in extra dressing if the salad seems like it needs it. For best flavor, let the salad rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Healthy and Easy Pumpkin Soup


1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 head cauliflower, florets diced (about 5 cups of florets total)

4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth

1 (15 ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree (about 1.75 cups total)

1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar (for a slightly sweeter soup, use 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or brown sugar)

1 teaspoon salt, to taste

1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (or substitute with heavy cream)

Optional garnish: sliced green onions, chives or sour cream


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent (about 5 to 10 minutes). Add garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 more minute, stirring.
  2. Add cauliflower, broth and pumpkin. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for about 20 to 30 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
  3. Stir in maple syrup, salt and coconut milk.
  4. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just transfer the soup to a large blender and puree until smooth.
  5. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole


Cooking spray

3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/3 cup honey

1 large egg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mist an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a pot with a large steamer basket in place. Put the sweet potatoes in the basket, cover and steam until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the honey, egg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the nutmeg, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt; whip with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread the sweet potato mixture in the prepared baking dish.
  3. Mix the brown sugar, pecans and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl; sprinkle over the potatoes. Bake until hot and beginning to brown around the edges, 40 to 45 minutes.

Sausage, Apple and Herb Stuffing


8 ounces sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 ounces sweet Italian pork sausage

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup chopped celery stalks and leaves (about 3 stalks)

2 medium Granny Smith apples, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 cups)

1 tablespoon fresh sage

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided

3 large eggs

Thyme sprigs (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread bread cubes in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until dry and slightly toasted, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer bread to a large bowl. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. While bread cubes bake, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high until browned, about 6 minutes, using a spoon to break sausage into small pieced. Transfer sausage to bowl with bread cubes. Do not wipe skillet clean. Reduce heat to medium. Add butter, onion and celery to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add apples; cook until soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Stir in sage, thyme, salt and pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup stock, stirring and scraping bottom of skillet to release browned bits. Transfer apple mixture to bowl with bread cubes and sausage.
  3. Whisk together eggs and remaining 1/2 cup stock in a bowl until combined; stir into bread mixture. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Remove foil, top with thyme sprigs and continue to bake until stuffing is lightly browned on top and set for 15 to 20 more minutes. Let stuffing stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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