I love everything about Thanksgiving- from the decorating, to the cooking, to the eating (ok, maybe not the clean-up)- but one thing I don’t love is the idea of chemicals and “manufactured food products” masquerading as my favorite foods.
When you’re planning your meal, I’m sure you’re not planning on cooking with and serving “Sodium Bisulfite”, “Partially Hydrogenated Oil”, “Pyrophosphate”, “Disodium Guanylate”, “Disodium Inosinate”, “Propyl Gallate”, and a slew of other unknown items. However, if you’re using one of these boxed options you’re serving all of this and more.
I’m all for convenience, but at what cost? With a little extra prep it’s easy to have the real version of Thanksgiving favorites like stuffing, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes that are not only better for you, but taste better too!
Want a better option? Try one of these delicious recipes!
Green Bean Casserole
I loooove this recipe for two reasons: it’s easy to throw together (you even get to use pre-packaged fried onions!), and it’s a million times tastier than the version made with condensed cream of mushroom soup. Now, about those onions. I was prepared to make my own crunchy onions, and even went out and bought a mandolin to slice them, but when I checked out the ingredients in French’s French Fried Onions I was thrilled to see it wasn’t necessary. These crunchy toppers only include four ingredients: onions, palm oil, wheat flour, salt and dextrose. I don’t love that it has dextrose in it (added sugar), but it’s so minimal that it doesn’t even show up on the nutrition label.
- 5 cups trimmed, cooked green beans
- 1 recipe Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- dash black pepper
- 1 1/3 cups French’s French Fried Onions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a 1.5 quart oven dish combine soup, beans, soy sauce, pepper and 2/3 cup fried onions.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Top with remaining 2/3 cups onions and cook for another 5 minutes.
- 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
- 2 Tbs. butter
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 3 Tablespoons whole wheat flour (divided)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup light cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic.
- Stir for about 2 minutes and then toss in the sliced mushrooms.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms and onions are soft.
- Sprinkle about 2 Tbs. of whole wheat flour over the vegetables and stir for :30 to slightly cook the flour.
- Pour chicken broth into pot and stir.
- Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
- Add salt, pepper and thyme.
- Pour in cream and last Tablespoon of flour.
- Heat through, stirring occasionally, until warm and thickened.
Homemade Mashed Potatoes
I recently made these potatoes after watching Bobby Flay on the Food Network and noticing that he combines buttermilk and melted butter into his mashed potatoes. He also added some chopped chives and the flavor is amazing – tangy, rich and creamy.
- 6 russet potatoes
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 green onions (green parts only), thinly sliced
- Wash, peel, and quarter potatoes
- Add to a large pot of salted water (water should cover the potatoes).
- Boil until tender – about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slowly heat the buttermilk and butter in a small pot on the stove until butter is completely melted.
- Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.
- Mash potatoes and combine with buttermilk mixture, slowly adding the buttermilk until reaching the desired consistency of the mashed potatoes.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Fold in chopped green onions.
- Serve warm.
Simple Herbed Stuffing
I love this basic stuffing recipe because, although it’s perfect on it’s own, you can easily mix in any additions you’d like such as sausage, chestnuts, etc. Also, it comes out with a crunchy top, but a moist center that makes it seem like it’s been cooked right in the bird. If you’re doing some early prep for Thanksgiving you can make this up to one day in advance. If you don’t want to make it today, at least set out a loaf of whole wheat bread so that it can get stale overnight.
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter plus more for baking dish
- 12 slices whole wheat bread, torn into 1″ pieces (about 10 cups)
- 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
- 1 1/2 cups 1/4″ slices celery
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Butter a 13x9x2″ baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.
- Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°F, about 40 minutes. DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Uncover; let cool. Cover; chill.
- Bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).