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November, 2010

New Thanksgiving Favorites

By Nancy Eisman

To me the stars of the Thanksgiving dinner table have always been the side dishes.

Sweet Potatoes
Growing up it just wouldn’t have been Thanksgiving without green bean/cream of mushrooms soup/canned fried onion casserole, very well candied sweet potatoes (also out of a can), and jellied cranberries (even shaped like a can). Since then I’ve learned so much, e.g., fresh green beans sautéed with fresh onions and mushrooms, and fresh cranberries cooked with fresh orange segments and nuts are a much more delicious and healthier way to go.

This much I also know is true: over eating on Thanksgiving is a long-standing and hard-to-break tradition. Portion control is a good place to start, and then consider preparing more modern versions of traditional recipes. One way to make the effort to enjoy your favorites in a healthier way is to make easy substitutions while staying true to all the holiday flavors you love.

For example, instead of those sticky sweet, maybe marshmallow topped candied sweet potatoes of years gone by, pick up some baby Japanese Yams at the grocery store or farmers’ market. These vine growing tubers are on the petite side as yams go, maybe 3-4” long, with thin brown skin lightly tinted red, containing sweet, moist white flesh. You won’t believe how much flavor and texture is packed in these spuds. Baked until marshmallow soft on the inside and slightly crispy and chewy on the outside, with a drizzle of miso-shallot butter, these yams are sure to become a new holiday favorite.

Holiday meal starters, salads, sides, and desserts are great places to put a modern twist on your dinner table with a wide variety of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits. Think of bright colors, bold flavors, and a range of textures, and this Thanksgiving will be the best feast ever. You’ll eat less but you’ll have a lot more to be thankful for.

Baby Japanese Yams with Miso-Shallot Butter

8 organic baby Japanese yams
½ stick unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons white miso paste
2 Tablespoons organic shallots, finely diced

Wash, dry and fork prick the potatoes, then place them on a foil covered baking sheet. Place the potatoes in a preheated 425 degree oven and bake approximately 45 minutes until softened. In the meantime, place the butter, miso paste, and diced shallots in a small pan on your stovetop until melted and well combined. Cut each potato open, drizzle with the miso-shallot butter, and serve.