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Healthi(er) Thanksgiving

Does Thanksgiving have to be all about the butter, heavy cream, and fatty meats? My blogging pal Cathy Elton of What Would Cathy Eat doesn’t think so. That’s why she has issued a challenge: Make a healthy Thanksgiving dish using the 10 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving as your guide, and give your Thanksgiving dinner that healthy boost it needs.

When I started thinking about how to improve our Thanksgiving dinner, my thoughts immediately turned to stuffing. I’m used to the kind of stuffing that you make with regular bread; I have been known to save up bread crusts and stumps for months in the freezer just to have them on hand when it’s time for stuffing. But this year, I decided, it doesn’t have to be all bread-y to be delicious. In fact, it doesn’t have to be made with bread at all.

At the same time as I was mulling over the stuffing/bread issue, I just happened to be walking through the farmers’ market and spotted some beautiful honey dates. True story: When I first moved out to California, I bought some dates for my mom and she was positively in shock. She had never had dates that were fresh and gooey before; she had just assumed that they were sort of a tough, dry fruit. Talk about a mistake! Now I try to have dates on hand for her whenever possible.

Anyway, I love savory stuffings with just a tiny hint of sweetness. That’s why I was inspired to make this simple quinoa stuffing with dates and walnuts. You won’t miss the bread – promise.

Quinoa Stuffing with Dates and Walnuts

2 cups homemade turkey stock (you can use vegetable stock)

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup dates, pitted and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley for garnish

Optional: 1 large butternut squash

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Rinse and sort the quinoa, then add it to the pot. Cover and simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and the grain spirals out. Stir in chopped dates and walnuts. Season to taste. Garnish with a small amount of chopped parsley.

Optional: Serve inside a roasted butternut squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and lay it face down in a roasting pan. Fill the pan with about an inch of water. Roast at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove the pan from th eoven, flip the squash over, and roast for another 40 to 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pricked. Scoop out a little bit of flesh to make a good-sized cavity for the quinoa stuffing. Fill the squash with the quinoa stuffing and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes. Serve warm. Serves 4 to 6.

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2 Responses to Healthi(er) Thanksgiving

  1. Valentina November 7, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    i love the idea of quinoa stuffing! perfect for gluten-free folks!

    • jollytomato November 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

      Thanks, Valentina! : )

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