Traditional recipes with a twist

We all hope for simple and stress-free holidays. Simplifying traditional dishes and choosing ones that can be prepped days ahead of time will eliminate that stress and ensure your Thanksgiving leaves you feeling, well, thankful. You might even spend more time at the table with family than you do in the kitchen!

Turkey Meatballs

Stay traditional and go with turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, but simplify things with these bite-size meatballs. Though small, they pack a punch of big flavors to rival any main attraction.

12 oz (340 g) extra-lean ground turkey thigh

1 egg

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 cup (250 mL) chopped spinach

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

2 tsp (10 mL) orange zest

1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh sage

1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until just combined. Don’t overmix. Using approximately 1 1/2 Tbsp (22 mL) mixture, form meatballs and place evenly spaced out on parchment-lined baking sheet. Makes 16 meatballs.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, giving baking sheet a shake midway through cooking so they cook evenly and acquire color on all sides. Continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 160 F (70 C). Serve with cranberry sauce.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 203 calories; 27 g protein; 11 g fat (2 g sat. fat); 3 g carbohydrates (1 g sugars, 1 g fiber); 119 mg sodium

Barley Stuffing

Here, we’re creating a traditional dish with a twist by ditching the boring old bread of typical stuffings and replacing it with the ancient grain barley. This next-level stuffing is plant based, but mushrooms and fennel add a delicious meatiness.

2 cups (500 mL) cooked barley

1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

9 oz (250 g) cremini mushrooms, finely chopped (mixed mushrooms would work as well)

1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped carrots

1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped celery

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

1 Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2 in (1 cm) cubes

1/4 cup (60 mL) water chestnuts, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh rosemary, chopped

1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh sage, chopped

1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 tsp (2 mL) fennel seeds, ground in mortar and pestle or spice grinder

Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

In advance, prepare 2 cups (500 mL) cooked barley according to package instructions. Set aside or make it a day or two ahead of time and store, covered, in refrigerator.

In large frying pan on medium-high heat, add olive oil and mushrooms and cook until browned and all moisture is gone, stirring frequently.

To frying pan with mushrooms, add carrots, celery, and onion; saute until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add apple cubes and water chestnuts along with herbs and spices, and saute until apples are soft, about 5 minutes. Add in cooked barley and stir to combine.

Place mixture into oven-safe dish with cover. Bake, covered, at 350 F (180 F) for 30 minutes. If you want the top to be crispy, remove cover approximately 5 to 10 minutes earlier.

To save time on Thanksgiving Day, make this up to 2 days ahead and store in fridge before roasting. On the day of your dinner, let stand for 30 minutes, before roasting until crispy and warmed through.

Serves 6

Each serving contains: 305 calories; 10 g protein; 4 g fat (1 g sat. fat); 61 g carbohydrates (8 g sugars, 15 g fiber); 46 mg sodium

Vegetable Mash

Move over potato; there are plenty of other vegetables vying for the title of comfort in a bowl! This combination is full of flavor and is silky smooth and creamy.

1 whole celery root, peeled and diced

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled

Vegetable broth or water to cover vegetables

1/4 cup (60 mL) nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter or butter substitute

Salt and pepper, to taste

Into large saucepan, place chopped vegetables and garlic and add water or vegetable broth until just covered. Bring to a boil and cook until vegetables fall off a fork, about 25 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup (60 mL) of cooking liquid and drain the remainder.

Into blender, place cooked vegetables, nutritional yeast, and butter, and blend until smooth. If you prefer a thinner mixture, add reserved liquid to achieve your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place in serving dish and enjoy. This dish can be prepared in advance and reheated before serving.

Serves 6

Each serving contains: 127 calories; 5 g protein; 3 g fat (1 g sat. fat); 24 g carbohydrates (4 g sugars, 5 g fiber); 101 mg sodium

By Chelsea Gough