In the northern hemisphere, we’re approaching the Thanksgiving holiday. The day is dedicated to gratitude, friends and family and gathering around the table for a hearty meal. For many people, the holiday wouldn’t be the same without stuffing, turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, casseroles and plenty of pie.
The traditional Thanksgiving fare, full of empty calories, extra sugar and salt, processed ingredients and carbohydrates, carries little nutritional value. Most of us recognize that these dishes are unhealthy, but this time of year can be especially difficult to stick to a nutritious diet. It isn’t easy to forego old favorites!
But here is the good news: there is certainly a place for nutritious and traditional options at the Thanksgiving table. If you’re aiming to eat healthier this holiday, we’re here to tell you it is possible. This month, we at Hope4Cancer are featuring some Thanksgiving recipe “makeovers,” which include traditional ingredients prepared in healthy and delicious ways.
The traditional “green bean casserole” is a mainstay on holiday tables. The casserole combines soggy green beans with over-salted and over-processed cream soup with crunchy artificial onions — this dish ranks low in nutrition and high in empty calories. Our alternative: bright, flavorful green beans with an almond pesto.
Green beans are low in calories, yet high in nutrients, so they are a great choice for acquiring minerals and vitamins without adding extra pounds. Some of the benefits of green beans include reduced risk of colon cancer and heart disease. Green beans boost your immune system, and also benefit your eyes and bones.
But skip the canned green beans and choose fresh green beans instead. Fresh green beans contain double the magnesium, double the vitamin A and quadruple the vitamin C than their canned counterparts. Canned vegetables often contain additional and unnecessary sodium.
Unlike the classic green bean casserole, this recipe builds on crisp green beans with flavorful garlic, fresh parsley and crunchy almonds. Green beans with almond pesto are a welcome side dish for any Thanksgiving table!
Thanksgiving Recipe Makeovers: Green beans with almond pesto
- 1/2 pound fresh green beans, washed and edges trimmed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large clove fresh garlic
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Before beginning, prepare a large bowl with ice water.
- Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat.
- Drop in the beans all at once and cook for three minutes.
- Drain and immediately plunge the beans into ice water. Set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic, parsley and salt. Process until the parsley is finely chopped.
- With the machine running, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream and process until a smooth purée forms. Add the almonds and pulse until finely chopped and the pesto is a uniform, coarse purée.
- Drain the beans and pat dry. Put them in a large bowl, add the pesto, and toss to coat evenly. Serve at room temperature.