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The Four

Wellness for the Family: Enjoy These Festive Thanksgiving Recipes

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it might be time to re-evaluate the menu. Not only because of high prices, but because of the options that have more sugar and fat.

Shanti Appelo from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan joins us to give you recipe alternatives.

Three alternative Thanksgiving dishes are:

Fall herb whipped spread with Crudites for an appetizer, Crispy, Cast Iron Potatoes with Sage infused Light Aioli for a side, and Mini no-bake Pumpkin Cheesecakes for dessert!


Fall Herb-whipped Spread with Crudité

Spreads and dips aren’t known for their health benefits. But this recipe adds filling protein and calcium by whipping goat cheese with Greek yogurt. A low-temperature sauté of garlic in olive oil brings out its nutty, sweet flavors, while herbs of cool weather, like thyme and chives, add additional flavor.

8 ounces goat cheese
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, stem removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Chives, finely chopped, for topping
3 Tbsp pecans, chopped, for topping
¼ cup pomegranate seeds, for topping
Crudité – cucumber and asparagus spears, bell peppers slices, sugar snap peas, and carrot sticks for serving
In a food processor or blender, add goat cheese and Greek yogurt.
In a pan over medium low heat, heat olive oil. Add thyme and garlic and sear until garlic is golden and fragrant. Add to blender with goat cheese and Greek yogurt. Add honey and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until mixture is smooth.
Serve in a low bowl or on a plate. Top the mixture with chives, pecans and pomegranate seeds. Serve with crudité and crackers if desired.


Crispy Cast Iron Potatoes with a Sage-infused Light Aioli

These potatoes are crispy, but not fried – thanks to the cast iron skillet. One of the keys to crispy potatoes is to soak them in ice cold water while the cast iron preheats along with the oven. After soaking, the potatoes get patted dry then are tossed with olive oil, fall herbs and spices. The finishing touch is a fall sage-infused light aioli. This recipe is a lighter take on a potato side dish – lacking heavy loads of cheeses and cream.

For the potatoes:
20 ounces petite potatoes, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup parmesan, grated, divided
2 green onion spears, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add cast iron to preheat in the oven.
Soak halved potatoes in ice cold water for 30 minutes.
Pat potatoes dry, then add to a large bowl. Add olive oil, spices, herbs and breadcrumbs to the bowl and toss the potatoes.
Remove the hot cast iron from oven using an oven mitt and add potatoes. Roast for 35 minutes. Then flip potatoes, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan on top of the potatoes and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Roast until crispy on the outside and desired softness on the inside. During roasting, make the aioli.
Dress finished potatoes with remaining 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons of the sage-infused aioli and chopped green onion.

For the sage-infused “cheater’s” aioli:
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 sage leaves, chopped
2 tbsp water
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak minced garlic cloves in lemon juice for 10 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, add light mayonnaise, sage leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Then add strained lemon juice, not including the garlic cloves. Blend until smooth. Add water as needed to thin to desired consistency.


Mini No-bake Pumpkin Cheesecakes

This no-bake pumpkin cheesecake recipe takes on less sugar than many traditional versions. And while this recipe contains a fair share of heavy whipping cream, it is served in small containers to keep portion sizes in mind. The light and fluffy aftermath is a delightful finish to a heavy meal.

For the Cinnamon Graham Crust
1 cup reduced-fat cinnamon graham crackers, crumbled (about 1 sleeve)
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
A pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients and distribute in shot glasses and let cool and set.

For The Cheesecake Batter
12 ounces low-fat cream cheese
1 cup canned 100% pumpkin puree
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. ground pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more for topping (1/4 cup if desired)
1. In a large bowl, let cream cheese sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then whip cream cheese with all ingredients except heavy whipping cream.
2. Whip the heavy whipping cream in a separate bowl.
3. Gently fold in the whipped cream with the pumpkin cheesecake mixture. Do not overmix.
4. Top crust with batter.
5. Top with whipped cream and ground pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon.
6. Freeze and serve after defrosting for 10 minutes, until lightly softened. It can also be served refrigerated and sets after about 1.5 hours

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