Atlanta chef lightens up fattening Thanksgiving dishes

- Each year, Americans eat consume anywhere from 2,500 to 4,500 calories in one sitting at Thanksgiving dinner.

Healthy chef Nancy Waldek, the author of the "Taste and Savor" cookbook series teamed up with the Women's Heart Program at Piedmont Healthcare to give some traditional Thanksgiving dishes a heart-healthy makeover.

Here are Waldek's recipes.

Holiday Salad with Maple Syrup Vinaigrette

1 Box Spring Greens
1 Bag Frozen Cherries, defrosted and patted dry
1 Cup Dried Cherries
Sweet Potato Croutons
Maple Syrup Vinaigrette

Lay the greens on a large platter, sprinkle the cherries, dried cherries and croutons on the salad, drizzle with vinaigrette.

Maple Syrup Vinaigrette

2 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ Tsp Sea Salt
3 TB Maple Syrup
2 Tsp Grated Fresh Ginger
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Add all the ingredients to a jar and shake well. Serve with roasted root vegetables like sweet potatoes and red onions, parsnips, turnips, etc. or dried it drizzled over a fresh fruit salad.

Roasted Sweet Potato Croutons

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut 2 sweet potatoes into small, uniform squares, (no need to peel if the skins are tender). Scatter on parchment or foil lined sheet pan. Spray or coat with olive oil and toss with 1 TB garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp sea salt and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper. Roast until browned on edges or about 25 – 30 minutes.


Personal Pumpkin Cheesecakes

3 Cups Fresh Fruit or Berries, sliced
1 TB Orange Zest
1 TB Orange or Cinnamon Liquor
12 oz Neufchatel or Light Cream Cheese, softened
½ Cup Pumpkin Puree
3 TB Nonfat Greek Plain Yogurt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg
2 Large Egg Whites
¼ tsp Fine Sea Salt
3 TB Fine Raw Sugar or Demedera Sugar

Step One
Preheat oven to 325F. Place fruit in a bowl and stir in liquor and orange zest. Set aside.

Step Two
Beat cream cheese for 1 minute on medium-high speed or until fluffy, Add pumpkin, yogurt, sugar, salt and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Add eggs and whites, one by one, scraping bowl as needed.

Step Three
Spoon mixture into 10 – 12 small ramekins until ¾ full. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until middle is set. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature. Cakes may crack or fall in middle leaving a perfect spot for fruit. Simply spoon on top and serve.

Root Veggie Puree

3 LB Assorted Root Veggies, like carrots, turnips, celaraic parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc.
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
2 TB Unsalted Butter
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
Chopped Green Onions for garnish

Peel and chop veggies, add to a large pot with 2 TB sea salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 15 minutes or until vegetables are easily pierced with a fork. Drain. Add back to the pot and add in ricotta and butter. Puree with an immersion blender. Serve garnished with green onions.


Orange and Cranberry Relish

1 Bag Fresh Cranberries
1 Large Navel Orange, skin removed and coarsely chopped
¼ Cup Honey

In the bowl of a food processor add all the ingredients and pulse until desired thickness. Taste and add more honey if desired.


Roasted Green Beans with Balsamic Glaze

1 LB Green Beans
1 TB Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
¼ Cup Slivered or Sliced Almonds, toasted

Roast the green beans in a 400F oven on a sheet pan until brown on the edges. Remove and drizzle with the Balsamic Glaze, spinkle with almonds.

Balsamic Glaze

1 TB Olive Oil, divided

Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

2 TB Minced Shallots

2 Tsp Grated Garlic
1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 TB Unsalted Butter

1 Stalk Rosemary

In a saucepan over medium heat and add the the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots to the pan and sauté until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant. Pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan and bring to a boil. Add the rosemary and allow the balsamic to simmer and reduce until only about 1/4 cup of balsamic remains, about 20 minutes. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and swirl the butter into the pan. Remove the rosemary sprig before serving.

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