Delicious Thanksgiving Guide

roast-trukeyThere are so many things for us to be thankful for – family, friends, and of course the resources to cook delicious, healthy meals for ourselves. In this week’s post, I want to share a big helping of Thanksgiving goodies that will not only help you organize the turkey day festivities, but also help you to make it fresh and effortless.

My earliest memories of Thanksgiving start of course with my Granny. And the one thing that sticks with me from her fabulous and bountiful spread, was her ability to bring it all together even though she had very little help. So here are her tips for making the day stress-free and absolutely delicious.

Do Ahead is Essential

Shopping Ahead Of TimeGranny shopped 4 to 5 days in advance; nothing is worse than seeing an empty shelf at the grocery store where your favorite stuffing mix used to be. Organize you shopping list based on the layout of your local grocery store. Most stores have produce first, so start there. This can cut your shopping time in half.

Granny would start cooking 2 days in advance. The key to making a splendid (and healthy) feast is to plan ahead. Trying to do it all at once, builds up a lot of stress and takes the fun out of holiday cooking – for you and those around you. It might seem like overkill, but two days before Granny would make the cranberry sauce and any cookies or desserts that would store well, like apple pie, pumpkin pie, and her famous Hungarian nutroll for example.

The day before she would prep the vegetables, trimming, slicing and peeling for dishes like green beans, stuffing, and salads. She would assemble the stuffing but not bake it, so follow your favorite stuffing recipe, or use mine, just don’t bake it off until the next day. It keeps well overnight in the fridge covered in plastic or aluminum foil.

Healthy + Tasty Thanksgiving Video Series

You’ve got plenty of Thanksgiving recipes — but what about chefs’ secret tips to make it easier, simpler and lower in calories without skimping on taste? In this video, I’ll invite you behind the curtain of my Skinny Secrets Thanksgiving How-To Video Series to help you avoid common mistakes while amping up the flavor.

Enjoy important how-to tips to make your holidays stress-free (with do-ahead tips), enjoyable (with great shortcuts) and successful (with key insights how to avoid common mishaps like clumpy mashed potatoes). Get the Skinny Chef into your kitchen and be the star of this year’s Thanksgiving! Below are six videos for everything from turkey preparation to a new spin on the old cranberry sauce stand-by!

  • For example, butterflying turkey dramatically cuts down on roasting time, resulting in overall moister meat. In addition, by making the stuffing outside the bird ahead of time, food safety is improved while saving time on T-Day that you can spend with your family instead.
  • As a health coach, I always champion home-made turkey stock as the perfect base for velvety gravy, giving cooks tighter control over the amount of salt in their recipes – ideal for people who want to cut back on sodium.You can use low sodium store bought broth, or make your own homemade broth that will take your gravy to a whole new flavor level.
  • Harking back to my upbringing in rural Pittsburgh, I still swear by my granny’s moistest stuffing — but I created a “skinny” version with all the flavor and less fat.
  • Smooth, lump-free mashed potatoes are easy to make when you follow a few easy steps that are detailed in the healthy Thanksgiving video series –- among them my tips to mash the cooked potatoes when they are still hot and using warm milk.

Here are some other smart and healthy ideas to get your Thanksgiving off to a great start!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving RecipesSweet and soothing, tart and rich, apples and sweet potatoes make a fall duet that is irresistible when sprinkled with spice and honeyed walnuts. I made these lovely layers with the help of a Japanese mandoline that will give you uniform slices in seconds. But there are plenty of other tools to make the prep time for your favorite Thanksgiving dishes go a lot faster without investing too much cash.

Granny’s Stuffing

stuffingMy granny makes the moistest stuffing and here is the “skinny” version with all the flavor and less fat. Even though she calls it stuffing, Granny likes to bake this Thanksgiving classic outside the bird.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

roasted-brussels-sproutsTry other vegetables side dishes can be prepped the day before, like Shallots and Green Beans, Simple Sauteed Spinach, and Broccoli with Kale and Walnuts. You can cook them off Thanksgiving afternoon while your bird is in the final stages of baking. Or try this no-cook superfood salad, that you make from start to finish the night before, based on the king of the superfood kingdom, kale!

In Granny’s Kitchen #3: Thanksgiving

In Granny’s Kitchen #3: ThanksgivingIn this episode, Granny shares her best Thanksgiving tips for what she considers to be the biggest feast of the year. From smooth mash potatoes to her moist stuffing, Granny knows best – after all she has cooked over 60 Thanksgiving dinners for a clan consisting of 15 family members! She also tells the story of a jealous feline, our family’s black cat, who almost spoiled the finale to the meal, her luscious homemade pumpkin pie!

Fast Holiday Sweets

Fast Holiday SweetsThis post is dedicated to all my girlfriends who are busy moms who love the idea of hosting, but find that making holiday snacks and goodies are last on the list.

Traditional Thanksgiving the Skinny Way

Traditional Thanksgiving the Skinny WayHands down, Thanksgiving is the biggest cooking holiday out there. Some of the foods that are served at the Thanksgiving table are actually healthy foods that have gotten a bad rap because of the way they are prepared, so here are four ways to lighten up the classic recipe without compromising a lot on taste!

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