Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and one of my girls’ favorites, too. There’s the focus on tradition, on being with cousins, aunts and uncles you see only once or twice a year. It’s a time to reconnect, to count our blessings, without all the commercialism of … ahem … other holidays.
And of course there’s the food!
I’d like to talk about root vegetables, the unsung heroes of the Thanksgiving feast.
The truth is, root vegetables can be intimidating for kids. Adults, too. Most of them have thick, strange-looking skin and long stems sprouting out of them. Some roots get the cold shoulder because they taste “earthy” or bitter. But the fact is, they are one of the healthiest foods we can eat. Because they grow underground, they absorb nutrients from the soil. They’re packed with high concentrations of anti-oxidants like Vitamins C, B and A. They contain slow-burning carbohydrates and fiber, making you feel full, longer.
Here are four recipes that make root vegetables the star – that I promise your kids will love!
If you’re like me, turnips were a big “turn off” as a kid. Your kids will be in for a pleasant surprise with these crispy turnip fries.
All you need is three pounds of turnips, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (I prefer canola), 1/3rd cup of grated parmesan cheese. For seasoning you’ll need 1 tsp of garlic salt, 1 tsp of paprika and 1 tsp of onion powder. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
Peel the turnips and then, using a colander or chef’s knife, cut the turnip into French fry-sized sticks, about 1/3 by 4 inches long. Place them in a large bowl and toss with the canola oil. Next, place the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika and onion powder in a freezer bag and shake.
Add the turnips to the bag and shake evenly until coated with spices. Spread them on a prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven until crispy with the inside tender, about 20 minutes. Recipe courtesy All Recipes.
What a healthy alternative to fries that your kids will love!
My girls absolutely love sweet potatoes. In fact, simply baking these orange beauties and serving them up with a small pat of butter has been a mainstay side dish in our house for years.
For the sweet potato mash, you’ll need 3 sweet potatoes cut into 2 in. chunks, ¼ cup of unsalted butter, 2 tsp of grated fresh ginger (powdered ginger would work in a pinch) ½ tsp of salt, 1/8 tsp of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.
Place the sweet potatoes in a pot and be sure they’re covered with water. Boil over high heat for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to the pot, placing on turned-off burner to evaporate any remaining water. Add in the butter, ginger, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and mash until smooth. Omit the ginger if you’re little ones find it too spicy. Recipe courtesy of Today’s Parent.
For a daring twist, consider using the purple sweet potato, the flavorful lavender cousin of the familiar orange variety. Sometimes called “Stokes Purple” potatoes, they taste very similar to regular sweet potatoes with the color coming from the same pigment that makes cherries and strawberries red. You can find them at Berkshire Organics.
Here’s a twist on a dish the Wheeler girls love: honey glazed carrots. The honey, infused with a bit of natural orange, really brings out the sweetness of the carrots.
Start with 5 cups of thinly sliced carrots. You’ll need 3 tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley, 2 tbsp. of honey, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp grated orange rind and ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper.
Next, bring ½ quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the carrots and cook for 20 min. or until tender. Drain well, then place the carrots and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently.
You can get the kids involved by having them use a box grater to grate the orange or in doling out the honey and measuring the seasoning.
Ah, hummus. This Middle Eastern staple can serve as a lunch side (served with pretzels) or sandwich spread or with your favorite cut vegetables (think carrots and sweet red peppers.)
We’ve been making our own hummus for years and the homemade stuff is far superior to anything you can buy in the store. Why not try a variation of hummus, replacing the chickpeas with beets?
You’ll need a pound of cooked beets. I like roasting mine, but you could easily boil them. To the beets you’ll add a ¼ cup toasted walnuts, 2 tbsp. of lemon juice, ½ tbsp. of tahini and ½ tsp of ground cumin, 1 garlic clove, 1 tbsp. of olive oil and ½ tsp of salt. Blend together using a food processor. Adjust by adding a bit more olive oil (or water) to achieve desired consistency. Yields: 1 bowl.
Try on pita toasts, crackers or raw carrots.