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These Thanksgiving side dishes are easy to prepare and healthful, too

A festive table, the company of family and friends and an array of delicious comfort foods. Now that’s Thanksgiving! If you have to downsize your guest list this year, we want to help by downsizing some Thanksgiving side dishes.

Our recipe lineup includes Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. Butternut squash is loaded with vitamin A, a key nutrient for good vision and a healthy immune system. A serving of today’s soup has a whopping 400% of your daily need for vitamin A. You can make this soup  two or three days in advance. Just heat, add the panko garnish and serve.

Rice Medley Salad with Apples and Raisins is another make-ahead side dish that lightens the food-preparation load. Fall flavors come together perfectly in this salad, which supplies a nice dose of dietary fiber, 3 grams per serving.

Rice Medley with Apples and Raisins

A side dish that doesn’t involve the oven or stove top is our Sweet and Sour Harvest Slaw. It’s best tossed with dressing just before serving. I like the mellow flavor of Napa cabbage, but it doesn’t stand up to extended marinating time like green and purple cabbage. Make the dressing a couple days ahead and refrigerate. Chop the cabbage and bell pepper the day before serving and leave the apple and green onion prep for the day of.

Sweet and Sour Slaw

Darlene Zimmerman is a registered dietitian in Henry Ford Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute. For questions about today’s recipe, call 313-972-1920.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serves: 6 (1 cup serving)  / Prep time: 20 minutes  / Total time: 1 hour

8 cups (about 2 small peeled, seeded) butternut squash chunks

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons tub margarine, divided

1 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons sherry

⅓ cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon snipped chives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place squash chunks on a sided sheet pan and drizzle with oil; toss to coat. Roast squash for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender.