November Fixings for the Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is almost here, and with it all sorts of reasons to celebrate the season and its bounty. Our 14-year-old son Blake agreed to join me in the kitchen for this month's parent-and-teen cooking session -- and as Blake, an avid runner, will tell you himself, he loves to eat healthy, homemade food.

With the holiday in mind, we decided to bring you our favorite sweet potato and cranberry recipes, both selected for their ease of preparation and slightly different twists in the seasoning department. Our homemade Chunky Cranberry Sauce is prepared with apple juice instead of water, and our Skillet Sweet Potatoes have a fragrant orange-spice glaze that makes the kitchen smell holiday-ready.

Teen's Pick of the Crop: Skillet Sweet Potatoes, from KitchenDaily:
Thanksgiving fixings picture

This glazed sweet potato recipe offers flavor without fat. Credit: Deborah Kloha

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced or one 18-ounce can sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon finely-shredded orange peel
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon molasses or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

In a large skillet, bring one inch of water to boiling. Add fresh sweet potatoes; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Or, drain canned sweet potatoes and cut into two-inch pieces; set aside. For sauce, in a small bowl combine orange peel, orange juice, molasses or brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Pour over potatoes in skillet. Cook and stir gently until bubbly. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until potatoes are glazed, spooning sauce over potatoes occasionally. Makes 4 servings.

Teen Dishes:
Mom approached me and asked me for a November dish, and only one thing came to mind: Sweet potatoes. Now, I'm not a very typical teenager. I dislike junk food a lot because it just simply doesn't make me feel very good. Along with a low-fat diet, I make sure to eat nothing with hydrogenated oils, and I try to avoid artificial flavorings and sweeteners as often as possible.

Most teenagers don't feel as strongly as I do about being healthy, but my choice of Skillet Sweet Potatoes will both satisfy their sugary cravings and provide them with the nutrition that their growing bodies require. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fiber. They also are low calorie and have no fat, so you won't feel guilty when you decide to sample these delicious autumn treats. Other than the chopping and slicing of the potatoes, they're incredibly easy to make, so the next time you think of adding a little twist into your family meal, serve these little taters. They'll love them!

Mom's Pick of the Crop: Chunky Cranberry Sauce, from KitchenDaily:

Cranberry sauce is the quintessential addition to a Thanksgiving meal. Credit: Deborah Kloha

1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 cup sugar

In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries with the apple juice and sugar. Simmer over low heat until the berries burst and the sauce is jammy, about 20 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a heatproof bowl, let cool, then refrigerate until chilled.

Mom Dishes:
For years, we always enjoyed the traditional canned cranberry sauce at our Thanksgiving table, particularly the jellied version that -- with the can marks firmly embedded -- practically sliced itself. But some time ago, we found that we could easily make the whole berry version ourselves in under a half-hour, and from then on, the kids were hooked.

This particular recipe adds apple juice for a little more flavor, while maintaining the sweet-tart allure of the dish and its lovely jewel-red color. The nutritional content of the cranberry is also a plus -- it's an antioxidant-packed fruit, high in Vitamin C and fiber. All in all, a recipe worth spending a few minutes concocting.

I'm glad Blake pushed for this recipe, as I'd originally wanted to try making a fresh cranberry smoothie. But fall is fall, and smoothies say "summer" -- so Blake raised a seasonal objection to my initial pick. And, I have to say, he has a point. We generally don't eat pumpkin pie in summer -- or raspberry sorbet in winter. So in the end, we came to an agreement of "Things You Do or Don't Eat Right Now ..." Gotta give a guy credit for having his principles, don't you think?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.