Thanksgiving Week: Healthy Meals & Recipes (cont.)

1 large slice sourdough or French bread, or a 7-inch-long baguette half
About 7 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon olive oil (flavored or extra-virgin)
3 large, thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1.5 ounces)
1/2 large vine-ripened tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  1. Cover the bread with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon olive oil evenly over the basil. Top that with fresh mozzarella slices.
  2. Broil sandwich, watching carefully, until cheese is melted and starting to lightly brown in spots (about 5 minutes in a toaster oven).
  3. Lay tomato slices on top of the mozzarella, then drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar over all.

Yield: 1 open-face sandwich

Nutritional Information: Per open-face sandwich: 314 calories, 18 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 11.5 g fat (5.3 g saturated fat, 4.4 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat), 23 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 560 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.

Dinner: Now for something completely different from tomorrow's meal - and easy to fix -- how about chili and cornbread? You can make the chili anytime during the morning (even the day before). Then just add it to the slow cooker and keep it warm until you're ready to serve. Beef & Beer Chili is a mild slow-cooker favorite - add extra chili powder, cayenne pepper, or jalapeno if you want a hotter chili.

Beef and Beer Chili

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound beef top round (such as London broil), trimmed of fat and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
31 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced or chopped garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
14 1/2 ounce can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes (or similar)
1 cup light or non-alcoholic beer (beef broth or water can be substituted)
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped chili pepper (jalapeno chili, halved and seeded (optional), finely
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped chili pepper (jalapeno chili, halved and seeded (optional), finely chopped
15 ounce can low-sodium kidney beans (or pinto beans), drained and rinsed
Finely minced onion for serving (optional)
Grated reduced-fat sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, nonstick frying pan or skillet. Add beef, onion, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until browned (about 3 minutes).
  2. Spoon beef mixture into crock pot. Add paprika, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and stewed tomatoes (including liquid), beer, jalapeno if desired, and beans. Stir to combine. Cover and turn crock pot on LOW. Cook 8-10 hours.
  3. Sprinkle each serving with minced onion and grated cheese if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 231 calories, 23 g protein, 22 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 39 mg cholesterol, 7.5 g fiber, 211 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.

When you have an extra 15 to 20 minutes: Assemble breakfast for tomorrow -- this keeps your holiday morning stress-free and frees up some time for last-minute Thanksgiving dishes. Some examples of "make ahead" possibilities include making overnight French toast (see recipe below) a light strata, or a batch of cinnamon rolls that keeps in the refrigerator and is baked the next morning. You could also bake a light coffee cake or quiche and serve it with fruit the next morning. Or you could make crepes, keep them in the refrigerator in a plastic container or bag, then serve with fruit and vanilla yogurt or light whipped cream the next morning.

Overnight Creme Brulee French Toast

3 tablespoons low- or no-trans fat margarine or butter
5 tablespoons reduced-calorie pancake syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier® (or other orange liqueur), divided
At least 8 (1 inch thick) slices of French or sourdough bread (you might need more to cover the bottom of the pan depending on the size of your bread)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters®)
1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Garnish: fresh strawberries or other berries and a dollop of light whipped cream or Light Cool Whip®.

  1. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with canola cooking spray. Melt margarine or butter in a small nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Mix in reduced-calorie pancake syrup, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier®, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  2. Remove crusts from bread and arrange slices in the baking dish in a single layer on top of the brown sugar mixture (enough slices to cover the bottom of the pan).
  3. In small bowl, whisk together eggs, egg substitute, fat-free half-and-half, vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier®, and salt. Pour mixture evenly over the bread. Cover well and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the dish from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  5. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes until puffed and lightly browned. Serve with fresh fruit and a dollop of light whipped cream if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 294 calories, 12 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 6.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 2.1 g monounsaturated fat, 1.8 g polyunsaturated fat), 82 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 537 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 20%.


Breakfast: Simply bake or assemble the "make ahead" breakfast you put together on Wednesday.

The Feast (Lunch/Dinner): If you're hosting, you can make your day easier by delegating a few dishes to family members or family. If Aunt Martha makes the best pumpkin pie, ask if she wouldn't mind bringing one. And maybe your sister has a new stuffing recipe she wants to try --sign her up! While many desserts, appetizers and side dishes can be assembled the day before, certain key components are best made the day of, like the roasted turkey, green salad and some vegetable side dishes like Easy Green Bean Almandine. You can actually make the mashed potatoes a day before, but you might need to add more milk to soften the texture once they're reheated.

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