Side dishes at Thanksgiving are just as (if not more) important than the turkey itself. From a nutrition standpoint, side dishes round out the meal with veggies and grains, and from a non-nutrition standpoint, side dishes make the whole Thanksgiving spread more impressive, provide variety in terms of colour, flavour and texture, and help conjure up their own memories - when people think about Thanksgiving dinner, they don't just think about the turkey, they think about the candied yams studded with marshmallows, the cranberry sauce that's still in the shape of the can, the roasted potatoes with crispy outsides and mealy innards... Anyway, we didn't eat any of that stuff.
Not that we didn't have any sides! My sister and I teamed up to make a salad and two kinds of "skinny" mashed potatoes, while I quickly did up some Brussels sprouts. We also ate "stuffing" (or vegetables soaked in turkey juices, really), which I already talked about in the previous entry, and my mom made some prime rib and defrosted some king crab legs.
I guess I don't have much to share in the way of "recipes", as we kind of eyeballed these things as we went along, so they're more techniques that you can think about than anything else...
I had made mashed potatoes with evaporated milk before, and I find that evaporated milk tends to have this rich, creaminess to it without all the extra fat (well, if you buy the 2% kind). So I thought, could evaporated milk alone replace the creaminess of butter and regular 1% milk? Well, sorta. No one said a peep when they had our mashed potatoes, but when my sister and I were doing our tastings, I felt like something about the texture and taste was a little off in a way that only butter could've fixed. Oh well!
"Skinny" Mashed Sweet Potatoes or Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
- 2-3 large sweet potatoes or 4 medium potatoes, peeled (or unpeeled, if you, like me, enjoy fibre), cubed
- Evaporated milk (about ½ of a 370 mL (12.5 oz) can)
- 5 mL (1 tsp) brown sugar, 30 mL (2 tbsp) walnuts or 2-3 garlic cloves, minced, 3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed from twigs and minced
Nutrition Info (per ⅛ recipe, assumes potatoes are boiled without skin)
- Simmer cubed potatoes in a medium pot of boiling water until softened. Drain.
- Using a potato masher, mash potatoes while adding in evaporated milk until desired consistency achieved.
- While potatoes are being mashed, toast walnuts by placing them in a single layer on a dry skillet over high heat. Stir frequently. Remove from heat and set aside when walnuts begin to brown/give off pleasant nutty smell.
- Mash in brown sugar (and if I had my way, cinnamon and nutmeg!) to taste. Scrape sweet potato into a bowl and top with roasted walnuts. Folding them into the sweet potato would work too. OR Mash in garlic and rosemary. Garnish with more sprigs of rosemary if desired.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes: 88 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 6 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates (2 g fibre, 4 g sugar), 3 g protein, 40 mg sodium. An excellent source of vitamin A.
Garlic-Rosemary Mashed Potatoes: 105 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated), 6 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrates (2 g fibre, 1 g sugar), 3 g protein, 29 mg sodium. A good source of potassium.
Chinese-style Brussels Sprouts
- 5 mL (1 tsp) vegetable oil
- 5 mL (1 tsp) sugar
- ~3 lb Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed and halved
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Nutrition Info (per ~1 cup): 51 calories, 1 g fat (0.2 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrate (3 g fibre, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein, 22 mg sodium. An excellent source of vitamins C, E and folate. A good source of potassium and manganese.
- Fill a large pot about halfway with water and add a teaspoon each of oil and sugar. Bring to a boil.
- Add Brussels sprouts, turn heat to low and simmer for about 3-5 minutes, or softened with just a bit of bite. Remove from heat and drain.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet. Saute garlic for about 1 minute and add Brussels sprouts, tossing them to coat with garlic. Remove from heat, season to taste and serve.