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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
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Preparing the Meal for Thanksgiving


If it's your turn to host the family holiday dinner, you hopefully have your game plan ready. There's a lot to consider, including whether or not you have the space: dining table space, burner/oven space and refrigerator space. Not to mention, what foods you are going to prepare and what foods you want others to prepare. No one wants to be working hard over a hot stove while everyone else is mingling and having fun. To beat the holiday anxiety, you need a thoughtful line of attack.

Think about quick and easy ways to prepare traditional recipes. Mashed potatoes, for instance, don't have to be peeled. Leave the skins on for less prep time and more nutrients. Rather than boiling over a hot stove, use the microwave to soften the potatoes; transfer to a slow cooker to keep warm. This frees up stove top space for something else. Also, consider carving the turkey before roasting. While you still have to take the time to break it down, you aren't doing it while the guests are watching and the dressing is getting cold. Watch a few videos on how to break down a turkey and go for it! The roasting time will be much less and by separating the light and dark meat, you'll get a more evenly cooked bird.

Make a list of dishes that can be made ahead of time. Cold sides, like the Four Ingredient Cranberry Sauce, can be made the day before. Green bean casserole can be prepared a day ahead and ready to go in the oven the following day. You'll be busy preparing food the day before the big day, so make sure you clean your house and clean out your fridge a few days ahead. Finally, enlist help and enjoy the company!

Four Ingredient Cranberry Sauce (Printable PDF)

12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries

⅔ cup sugar

1 orange, juiced and 2 teaspoons zest

2 cinnamon sticks

In a medium saucepan, stir together cranberries, sugar, orange juice, orange zest and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until a few of the berries pop and sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add water, a tablespoon at a time. Remove cinnamon sticks. Refrigerate until cold; served chilled.

Yield: 12 servings, about ¼ cup each

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 60 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams sodium, 15 grams total carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 0 grams protein



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