I was thinking about Thanksgiving and how to approach this “carbfest”. Most people will make the excuse, “it’s just once a year so where is the harm in that?”, nifty excuse but soon, since your body will have adapted to the higher calorie count and excess fat, you will be trying to score a turkey leg and some dressing from the local fat, sugar and salt pusher on the corner. It is a slippery slope my friends. When you look at what normally gets served for the main meal and even those things that are served prior to the meal the number of calories, sugars and carbohydrates are astounding. Each person will consume about 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat according to the Calorie Control Council and that does not include the appetizers.
I think a “healthy” Thanksgiving would not make a person any the worse for wear. The turkey can be done over a bed of fresh vegetables, stuffed with aromatic herbs, with pierced lemons or oranges providing fragrant and needed moisture to the roasting. Here is a thought, maybe you could avoid having stuffing in the traditional sense. Its presence could be replaced by…well…nothing! We used to have this very heavy (think bowling ball in the stomach for several days) Irish potato stuffing but knowing that there were enough carbohydrates in that to make a grown moose comatose we will abandon it this year because it is counterproductive to what we are trying to accomplish, a healthy Thanksgiving meal we will not regret. What would also be good served alongside the turkey is mashed sweet potatoes done with only cayenne pepper and cinnamon, yellow squash with red onions and sweet baby peas with pearl onions. For dessert, I am thinking a traditional pumpkin pie that has been modified to have no crust, no sugar and no fat (amazing right?!) and, having done a test run of this, it tasted the exact same as the unhealthy version. Also for dessert you could have a yogurt and fresh fruit parfait. This year one of the many stars of this meal will be served at the beginning. It will be disguised as an appetizer, butternut squash and apple soup (hot) and I am thinking served with a ginger snap (those really thin ones that the Moravian bakers make in Winston Salem, North Carolina).
As fate would have it, a number of years ago, I was asked if I had a good recipe for butternut squash and apple soup. After replying “no”, because I had never thought of putting those two things together in a soup, I decided to give it a go and see what I could come up with. Ruth (the “suggestee” in this case) said that she would try it too and we would compare recipes later. Well Ruth, here is the recipe. I understand that yours came out great and I hope that this compares favorably. As an aside, this soup would pair very nicely with a regular or turkey Reuben sandwich.
Say What Soup!
Butternut squash and apple soup
(Serves 4 – 6)
32 oz (by weight) – butternut squash (cut into cubes of about 1 inch)
(Note: I was able to find pre-cut cubed butternut squash but in the absence of that you would essentially prepare the squash by cutting the squash almost like a watermelon taking off the rind and cubing the insides)
2 – Medium sweet apples (cored and quartered and…do not touch that skin)
(Note: I used Gala apples which are pretty firm and have a light color and sweetness)
4 tbsp – ground cinnamon
3 tbsp – ground roasted coriander
2 tbsp – ground nutmeg
1 tsp – kosher salt
32 oz – vegetable broth
A drizzle of canola oil
Squash – On a large cookie/baking sheet arrange butternut squash cubes in a single layer on the cookie sheet and lightly drizzle canola oil over the top. Note: You do not have to be heavy handed here because the goal is only to lightly coat the squash so the dry ingredients stick. Then with your hands lightly toss the squash until they are coated with the oil. Next take 2 ½ tbsp of cinnamon, 3 tbsp of coriander, 1 tbsp nutmeg and 1 tsp of kosher salt and sprinkle over top of the squash. Once again toss with your hands to make sure each of the pieces are coated evenly with the ingredients.
Apples – In a ceramic baking dish, arrange the apple quarters skin side down and put about a half cup of water in the bottom. Next, evenly sprinkle 1 ½ tbsp of the cinnamon and 1 tbsp of the nutmeg over top of the apples.
Roast the squash and the apples at 450 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes and make sure to flip the squash at the 10 to 12 minute point. After these are done roasting, set these aside to cool. (normally about 10 to 15 minutes)
First, take the squash cubes plus the flesh of the apples and put into a large bowl. With a potato masher, or other implement of destruction, mash the squash and the apples together trying to get the apples evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Next, working in small batches, take this mixture and put into a food processor or blender and slowly add a bit of the vegetable stock, then puree the mixture. (The mixture should be the consistency of runny apple sauce or thick creamy tomato soup). Take your first batch and put it into a large pot and repeat the process until all of the vegetable stock and squash and apple mixture have been used up and are in the pot. Heat this over low to medium heat until hot and serve with a small grind of fresh nutmeg on top.
The Well Fed Cyclist