Thanksgiving Menu

The Ageless Holiday game plan for those of you who love to eat and like to cook, but want to keep it simple.

You can still enjoy all your holiday favorites and stay healthy and happy.

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Let’s start with the dressing or stuffing.

It’s my favorite part of the meal. But, old school Thanksgiving dressing made me feel bloated and lethargic. This version is healthier and just as satisfying.

Cornbread Dressing

There’s no sacrificing taste with this recipe. Plenty of herbs, good fats, organic chicken stock, and fresh vegetables, make this a savory masterpiece. The mushrooms lend a meatiness to the dish. Plus, it’s easy to make. The cornbread is a snap to prepare, make sure you make two of the cornbread, and it’s got a very good corn flavor. I like the inherent dryness of it and the simplicity, and this particular cornbread is made for dressing. Happily, it works wonderfully well with this recipe.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 8
Author Tania Van Pelt

Ingredients

  • 2 pans of day old savory cornbread torn into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 bunches of organic celery stalks and leaves chopped
  • 1 large granny smith apple diced
  • 2 large yellow onions diced
  • 8 ounces of white mushrooms diced
  • 1 bunch of flat-leaf Italian parsley, stems and leaves, diced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 jalapeño seeded, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely finely diced
  • 2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 5 fresh sage leaves chopped
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups low-sodium organic vegetable or chicken broth divided
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • Splash of unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Tear the cornbread into bite sized pieces. (Make two pans of the cornbread the day before)
  2. Over a medium high heat with a 1/4 cup of olive oil, add all the dried herbs and a tablespoon of sea salt, saute the onion. Once it’s cooked for about 5 minutes, add the jalapenos and the garlic. Saute for about a minute, and then add the mushrooms and continue to cook. Add the celery, apple, and the fresh herbs, parsley, sage, and also a little fresh cracked pepper, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the tamari, stir and then add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Take off the heat and while the mixture is hot, pour into a big bowl, add the cornbread, stir, add the 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and combine well, until all the pieces of bread are moist.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 350°. Pour the mixture in a large baking dish or dutch oven, spread it out evenly. Take the 2 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into cubes, and dot the dressing with the butter. Cover dressing with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Take the dressing out, remove the foil and drizzle with the last 1/2 cup of olive oil and the sprigs of rosemary. With the foil off, bake until dressing is golden and crisp on top, another 20 minutes longer. Season to taste.

And here’s the recipe for savory cornbread.

I got this recipe from a Kentucky grandmother. She made it every night for her husband and grandson. And it’s the best cornbread I’ve ever had. Why? Because it’s super basic. It’s not sweet; it’s not too moist or soft. It’s simple and classic. And because it doesn’t have any extra sugar or butter or oil added, the taste of corn is very prominent. I can easily imagine this cornbread being served on the farm in the 1800’s. Of course, they probably slathered it with homemade butter. For a cornbread dressing, it works a treat. It’s dry, savory, and retains it’s structural integrity (fancy words for cornbread!) in a dressing infused with chicken (or vegetable) stock, olive oil and butter.

Savory Cornbread

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Author Tania Van Pelt

Ingredients

  • 2 cups organic cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cup organic whole milk
  • 2 organic pasture raised eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Organic unsalted butter, for greasing the cast iron skillet

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F, grease a cast iron skillet with a generous amount butter. Put the greased iron skillet in the hot oven.
  2. Sift cornmeal, add milk, eggs and sea salt, beat together until blended. Take the skillet out of the hot oven and pour the cornbread mixture in the oven for 30 minutes.
  3. For cornbread dressing, allow the cornbread to sit out overnight, and then before you make the dressing, tear the cornbread into bite sized pieces.

I love Brussels sprouts. And this recipe is one of the easiest ways to prepare the petit cabbages.

These are one of those vegetables we should all be eating more of because these sprouts are high in phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And the pecans in this recipe balance out the bitterness of the vegetable with a little sweetness and richness. The pecans smell buttery and delicious, and they taste even better. This dish is dead simple to make and tastes so good. Plus, it makes an easy, tasty side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any old dinner party you want to throw.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

Servings 6
Author Tania Van Pelt

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of organic Brussels sprouts stem ends trimmed off, quartered
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or safflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and place a pan or casserole dish inside to heat up.
  2. Quarter the Brussels sprouts and add them to the hot dish along with the pecans, grapeseed oil, salt, and pepper flakes. Toss the sprouts and nuts to coat. Drizzle with lemon juice. Bake until tender, and browned along the edges, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and serve.

Here’s a really great recipe for mashed potatoes. The rich, tangy flavor comes from Greek yogurt, allowing you to skips the sticks of butter for something a little healthier.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Tania Van Pelt

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt divided
  • 5 medium cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives

Instructions

  1. Place the potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large pot and fill with cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, and after it is just melted, stir in the garlic. Stirring frequently, cook the garlic for about 2 minutes, or until soft and light golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander, shaking the colander to help remove excess water. Pour the potatoes into a large bowl.
  4. Add the garlic/butter mixture to the potatoes. Mash to break down the large pieces of potato.
  5. Stir in the Greek yogurt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Continue mashing to your desired texture.
  6. Stir the chives into the potatoes and then place in a serving dish and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Food and Wine

I love cranberry sauce. It’s a little tart with a touch of honey, a perfect complement to other holiday dishes.

I’m using honey, which has fructose instead of the typical cup of white sugar, which has sucrose… a little goes a long way. And, since hard cider is experiencing a major resurgence, and is probably the original American alcoholic beverage, I’m using that instead of a fruity wine. There are so many ciders, artisanal and locally made, out there, you really can have fun exploring your local wine shop or liquor store. It also means you can skip the mass produced ones.

Cranberry Sauce

Author Tania Van Pelt

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 250ml hard cider or fruity red wine
  • 1 cup 170g diced dried figs (hard stems removed)
  • 12 ounces 340g fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • Zest from 2 big oranges
  • Juice from one big orange
  • 2 tablespoons of raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. In a non-reactive saucepan, heat the hard cider (or red wine) and diced figs together until the cider is hot. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes, to soften the figs.
  2. Drain the figs then add the cider (or wine) back to the saucepan along with the cranberries, grated ginger, orange zest, juice and cinnamon and cook, covered, over medium heat until the cranberries have burst and are softened, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, and while still hot, stir the figs and the honey into the cranberries.
  4. The sauce can be made up to one week ahead and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature and garnish with parsley, if you like, before serving.

Recipe Notes

You can use any hard cider you enjoy best. I used the Sam Smith organic semi-dry cider and that worked very well. If you don’t have hard cider or would prefer to use wine, use any fruity red wine that you like best. And remember in cooking with alcohol, use the good stuff, a wine or a cider you would drink.
I used a blend of mission and calimyrna figs, roughly chopped. Make sure you get unsulphured, organic dried figs, sulphur is an additive you don’t need. Again, I use very little additional sweetener in this because the figs are quite high in sugar, as is the alcohol and the orange juice. If you do want it sweeter, wait till the sauce sits for a while and then taste. I think you’ll find this one a nice counterpoint to the other food on your plate.

And, if you’re skipping the turkey this year, or you want another option on the table, try this whole roasted cauliflower. It’s meaty, satisfying, and delicious.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Servings 6
Author Tania Van Pelt

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower whole, stem trimmed and leaves removed
  • 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Coarse sea salt for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 475° F. Bring wine, oil, salt, lemon juice, butter, red pepper flakes, honey, bay leaf, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Carefully lower in cauliflower, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into center, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Using 2 slotted spoons or a mesh strainer, transfer cauliflower to a roasting pan. Drain well before placing the cauliflower in the oven.
  3. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until brown all over, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer cauliflower to a plate. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with sea salt.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Alon Shaya's recipe