Monthly Archives: November, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner

thanksgiving plate

My Thanksgiving dinner plate circa 2012. Clockwise from the top: light mac and cheese, green beans with bacon, homemade cranberry sauce, cornbread dressing with turkey sausage, chunks of turkey and ham, and candied yams.

Thanksgiving is a week away.  If you have not completed your menu, here are some recipes to consider.  Also, if you want to “lighten up” some of your favorite recipes, check out some of the suggestions below.


  • Use whole wheat or multi-grain bread cubes
  • Use low sodium chicken broth
  • Substitute pork sausage with turkey sausage
  • Add diced apples for moisture and flavor
  • Saute diced onions, celery, garlic, cumin and sage to add flavor

Sweet Potatoes

  • Cut back on sugar or use brown sugar
  • Omit the marshmallows
  • Add pecans or walnuts

Green Bean Casserole

  • The traditional green bean casserole is coated in cream of mushroom soup and topped with fried onion rings, both of which are high in sodium and fat.  Instead, saute green beans in olive oil and about a tablespoon or two of bacon fat with herbs.  Top with crumbled bacon.

Mashed Potatoes

  • Substitute low fat milk or buttermilk for whole milk.  Or use half low-sodium chicken broth and half low fat milk.
  • Substitute half cauliflower and half potatoes.

Cranberry Sauce

  • Instead of using canned sauces, make your own.  Here’s the recipe I make at Thanksgiving.  Any leftover sauce is used to make cranberry mustard for sandwiches.
  • Make cranberry relish by chopping whole cranberries, oranges, apples and 1/2 cup sugar in your food processor.


  • Drain fat from turkey drippings or simply use butter to create the roux for your gravy.


  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Low fat pumpkin cheesecake (see below)



Roasted Turkey with Balsamic Brown Sugar Sauce

brussel sprouts

Apple – Bacon Brussel Sprouts

From RecipeGirl and Cooking Light

From RecipeGirl and Cooking Light

Low-fat Pumpkin Cheesecake


Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Serves 6-8 people


  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 package of whole cranberries (wash them and remove any soft or discolored berries).


  • Pour OJ in a large sauce pan or small stock pot.  (When the berries pop, they may splatter a bit.)  Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, add sugar and stir.
  • Add cranberries and stir again.  The berries will begin to pop and thicken the sauce.  Watch your temperature to make sure the sauce does not boil over or burn.  If the temperature is low, the berries will simmer, pop and the sauce will thicken.
  • Once most of the berries have burst, take the pan off the heat to begin cooling.  Once the sauce is cool, pour into a bowl and refrigerate.

Variations:  add some cinnamon, ginger, orange zest or nuts.

Mix any leftover sauce with Dijon mustard to make cranberry mustard for turkey sandwiches.  I usually just mix to taste but I start with about a cup of cranberry sauce and add the mustard until I get the right blend of sweet and tangy.

Caramelized Apple Tostadas

Caramelized Apple Tostadas  photo credit:

Caramelized Apple Tostadas
photo credit:

Caramelized Apple Tostadas

Makes 2 servings


  • 26 – 7  inches  flour tortillas
  •  Butter-flavor nonstick cooking spray or nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon  granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon  pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 apples or pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon  brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  pumpkin pie spice
  • 15 1/2 ounce can  apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon  dried currants
  •  Sifted powdered sugar (optional)


1.Place tortillas on a baking sheet. Lightly coat tortillas with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl stir together granulated sugar and the 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Sprinkle over tortillas. Bake in a 400 degree F oven about 10 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely on a wire rack.

2.Meanwhile, lightly coat a medium nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium heat. Add apples or pears, brown sugar, and the 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; cook and stir about 10 minutes or until golden. Add apple juice and currants. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes or until the apples caramelize and the liquid evaporates.

3.Spoon apple mixture over tortillas. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional Analysis:

  • 222 calories
  • 2 grams of fat
  • 52 grams carb
  • 5 grams fiber
  • 37 grams sugar
  • 2 grams protein
  • 74 mg sodium

Food For Thought: Healing Herbs


Carlton’s Homemade Croutons

Photo credit: Carlton Logan

Plain Bread Crumbs (Photo credit: Carlton Logan)

I’m not real crazy about boxed croutons because they tend to be too dry.  My rule is if you fear the possibility of cracking a tooth, don’t eat them!

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to cut some day old bread, sprinkle it with some olive oil and herbs and bake them.  Plus they have less fat, calories and sodium than store-bought.


  • Day old French bread/baguette or any type of bread
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 2-4 teaspoons Italian herbs


  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Spray a cookie sheet with Pam.  Or place a sheet of parchment paper on the sheet for easier cleanup.
  • Cut bread into uniform cubes
  • Toss bread into a large mixing bowl,  Drizzle with some olive oil.  Season with some salt and a little pepper.  Sprinkle with garlic powder if desired.   Sprinkle with herbs.
  • Spread cubed bread evenly on cookie sheet.  Bake for 15-20, checking cubes after about 10 minutes.  Cubes should be brown but not too dark.  In terms of texture, cubes should be crisp but not hard.

Croutons can be stored in a plastic storage bag or air tight container for about a week.

Use in salads, soups, or a bowl of chili.


Photo credit: Carlton Logan

Photo credit: Carlton Logan

I am always looking for recipes containing less sodium and less fat.  More and more, I’m pulling away from processed foods and gravitating towards fresh ingredients…fresh produce, lean meats, whole grains.

So, during fall, what’s better for lunch or dinner than a bowl of warm soup?  I have many homemade recipes for soup with tomatoes or squash or noodles.  But I didn’t have a healthy recipe for potato soup.  Until now.  I found this recipe at

To cut back on the starchy potatoes, this recipe replaces some of the spuds with roasted cauliflower.  This increases the nutrients, cuts calories and adds a depth of flavor.  Also, using low-fat milk and sour cream cuts the fat.  Overall, this recipe cuts the calories in half, drastically reduces saturated fat and sodium.

Makes 8 servings, about 1 1/4 cups


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound cubed peeled baking potato (about 2)
  • 1 pound cubed Yukon gold potato (about 4)
  • 5 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1/2 head)
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
  • 1/2 cup fat-free fromage blanc (such as Vermont Creamery) or sour cream
  • 2 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. 2. Heat a large Dutch oven (or stockpot) over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, thyme, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes, stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf.
  3. 3. While potatoes simmer, combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, cauliflower, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray; toss to coat. Roast at 450° for 30 minutes or until browned, turning once.
  4. 4. Place cauliflower mixture and milk in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour cauliflower mixture into a large bowl. Add half of potato mixture to blender; pulse 5 to 6 times or until coarsely chopped. Pour into bowl with cauliflower mixture. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. Place cauliflower-potato mixture in Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup green onions, and fromage blanc; stir until fromage blanc melts. Ladle soup into 8 bowls. Top evenly with remaining green onions, cheese, and bacon.  (Note: if you don’t have a stand blender, an immersion blender would work as well, if not better.)

Nutritional Analysis:

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 223
  • Fat: 6.7g
  • Saturated fat: 2.7g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.8g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g
  • Protein: 12.7g
  • Carbohydrate: 29.7g
  • Fiber: 3.5g
  • Cholesterol: 15mg
  • Iron: 1.8mg
  • Sodium: 478mg
  • Calcium: 185mg

Beef Casserole

This recipe comes to us courtesy of Rose Krebs.  She recently tried it because it’s relatively quick and easy.


  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup green pepper, cubed
  • 3 ½ cups tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup uncooked rice, preferably brown
  • 1 ½ cups water

Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef and drain fat.
  2. Add rest of ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 35 minutes.
  5. Serve.

8 servings

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Calories: 201
  • Total fat: 5g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Cholesterol: 16mg
  • Sodium: 164mg
  • Total fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 9g
  • Carbs: 31g
  • Potassium: 449 mg


  • If you don’t want to use beef, substitute ground turkey or chicken, reducing the grams of fat.
  • For more color, add some chopped yellow and red peppers
  • Feel free to add other herbs or spices
  • The original recipe uses white rice.  Brown rice would be healthier and add more fiber.
  • Also, if you want to add more flavor, use stock instead of the water.  But be careful with the sodium content.  Trader Joe’s has cooking stock with a very low sodium content.

Food For Thought: 31 Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Photo credit: Wikimedia

David Power brought this article to our attention.  And yes…(dark) chocolate is one of the 31 foods!  Click on the link below for the article.

31 Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

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