For many, Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and lots and lots of delicious food. Casseroles, baked desserts, tasty spirits, and so much more! We often joke about the holiday calories we consume and how they don’t count. But unfortunately, they do. And regardless if it’s a holiday or not, we still need to be mindful of what we’re putting into our bodies, even if it is just for one day. One day of careless eating can send many suffering from various chronic conditions into a tailspin. This is why it’s important to plan ahead and have some healthy Thanksgiving side dishes to prepare.
Healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to mean bland. You can prepare a Thanksgiving feast that’s full of flavor and health benefits. You just have to have an open mind and be willing to make some substitutions. The traditional casseroles may taste good, but they’re certainly not doing your weight or arteries any favors. The same goes for those sugary desserts. Depending on what you bite into, one bite could send your glucose levels through the roof.
If you’re in need of a little inspiration for a healthy Thanksgiving side or recipe to make, try this squash and shredded apple soup. It is nutritious and filling, so it will help to keep you from over-indulging in something not so healthy. And instead of heavy cream, it uses fat-free evaporated milk to cut down on fat.
This creamy soup is definitely a ‘powerhouse’ soup thanks to its star ingredient. Squash contains antioxidants, including vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene. Antioxidants can help to prevent and slow down inflammation which may lead to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases. Adding the shredded apples adds another layer of health benefits and flavor that’s low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol.
Creamy Squash Soup with Shredded Apples
2 boxes (16 oz each) frozen pureed winter (butternut) squash
2 medium apples (try Golden Delicious or Gala)
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cans (12 oz each) fat-free evaporated milk
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground black pepper
- Place the frozen squash in a microwave-safe dish. Cover loosely. Defrost in the microwave on medium power for 5–10 minutes, until mostly thawed.
- Meanwhile, peel then shred the apples using a grater or food processor, or peel and finely chop apples into thin strips. Set aside ¼ cup.
- Warm oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add all but ¼ cup of the apples. Cook and stir until apples soften, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in thawed squash and pumpkin pie spice.
- Add the evaporated milk about ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook and stir over high heat just until the soup is about to boil.
- Ladle into individual soup bowls. Top each with a tablespoon of the unused apples. Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired.
Recipe courtesy of National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.