By Gillian Burdett
Traditional Thanksgiving dinner dishes aren’t always the healthiest. Fiber-rich, nutrition-loaded sweet potatoes become a dietary disaster once the cook adds lumps of butter, brown sugar and marshmallows. It’s fine to splurge a little over the holidays. The season is wrapped up in traditions of which food plays a big part. However, Thanksgiving comes between bowls of Halloween candy and platters of Christmas cookies. Re-thinking Thanksgiving dinner with an eye towards health can help you head towards New Year’s Day with more energy and less holiday weight gain. We reached out to Glastonbury Chef David deMercado for some help with making Thanksgiving dinner a little healthier.
Chef David deMercado
Dinner as You Please
Glastonbury, CT 06033
Chef David, a member of The American Personal Chef Association, trained under Shirkshire Restaurant Executive Chef John Wiskoski in Bennington, Vermont. He draws on New England’s bounty for his culinary inspiration using fresh Atlantic seafood, vegetables and herbs grown in his own garden and fruits and berries picked from local orchards. Dinner as You Please is Chef David’s personal chef and catering service. He specializes in creating personalized meals for his clients taking into consideration lifestyles and dietary needs. Chef David offered us three recipes that will make a healthy addition to any Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps one, or all three, will become a tradition at your holiday table.
Thanksgiving Sweet Potato and Apple Gratin
*Note For tart apples, Gala or Granny Smith work well.
Chef’s Notes: Having grown up in Southern Vermont, the fall harvest of apples, potatoes, and root vegetables meant the ingredients for hearty sides and wonderful pies would (hopefully) be available through the winter. This healthy gratin is made more flavorful and distinct by the addition of a tart apple like a Granny Smith or Gala. By volume, fresh bread crumbs have fewer carb calories than dried crumbs and have much better flavor. Maple syrup (go Vermont!) is one of the healthiest and freshest tasting sweeteners available and not a marshmallow in sight.
Thanksgiving Roasted Carrots, Parsnips, Purple Top Turnips & Onions
Chef’s Notes: I have been serving a version of this very dish to my family and friends for at least 20 years. Healthy olive oil and the flavor magic that caramelization can bring to a seemingly humble late-harvest vegetable melange needs to be tasted to be appreciated.
Thanksgiving Pom-Cran Relish
Chef’s Notes: Fresh New England cranberries, anti-oxidant rich pomegranate seeds and phytonutrient rich walnuts combine with another top-ranked healthy sweetener, honey, and fresh orange pieces to create a chunky, palate refreshing sweettart condiment. The recipe as designed allows you to tailor the sweettart ratio at the end.
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