Holy Name Medical Center Blog

This Thanksgiving, Go Beyond Turkey

Posted by Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Human Performance
Post-Acute Support Services on November 22, 2021
Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN

Turkey is typically the traditional food at today’s Thanksgiving table. With news of slowdowns in the supply chain, we are hearing there may be a turkey shortage or the birds may be more expensive.

No worries! There are many delicious main dish alternatives to turkey for anyone on a tight budget, or for those who eat a plant-based diet. Included here are two festive plant-based entrees, which would also make delicious side dishes if you choose to serve turkey.

Looking back in history, the Pilgrims and Native Americans probably didn’t focus on the bird at the “First” Thanksgiving in 1621. More likely they would have served local seafood, venison and wild fowl. Some side dishes might have included pumpkin, winter squash, walnuts, chestnuts and beechnuts. The table may have been laden with sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) and onions, both of which are loaded with prebiotics that nourish the good bacteria in your digestive system. Vegetables would have included lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, peas and corn porridge. Indigenous fruits - blueberries, raspberries, grapes, gooseberries and cranberries – would have been served as a sweet side or dessert.

Our beyond-turkey plant-based entrees featured below are nourishing and festive for Thanksgiving or any of your holiday meals during December and January. Pair them with indigenous fruits and pumpkin-style desserts for a delightful ending.

A Bountiful Butternut Squash Lasagna

A Bountiful Butternut Squash Lasagna

The star of our butternut squash lasagna is a seasonal versatile veggie that is low in calories, yet rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting antioxidants. Butternut squash may help protect against heart disease, mental decline and cancer. Instead of using traditional ricotta cheese, this recipe features a tasty protein-rich cashew “ricotta,” cauliflower and portabella mushrooms. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that has been in the spotlight and used for making anything from pizza to rice. The powerful veggie is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Portobello mushrooms are rich in B vitamins, antioxidants, selenium, copper, potassium and phosphorus. They also contain some plant-based protein. Click here to get the recipe.

Tangy Lentil Loaf

Tangy Lentil Loaf

This lentil loaf gets its tang from walnuts, which were probably eaten at the original Thanksgiving table. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants; omega 3’s; polyphenols, micronutrients that reduce inflammation; and butyrates, which support a healthy gut. Lentils are rich in protein, making them a terrific meat alternative. Lentils are also high in fiber, folate and potassium, which aid in managing cholesterol and controlling blood pressure. Click here to get the recipe.

Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN, has more than 25 years’ experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist and trained culinary professional. She provides in-person outpatient nutrition counseling sessions. To make an appointment, call 201-227-6040. Virtual consultations are also available.

Ms. Yablon Brenner graduated from Johnson & Wales University’s prestigious Culinary Arts program. Prior to coming to Holy Name in 2021, she had a private practice, specializing in medical nutrition therapy, coaching, and nutrition communications. She provided recipe and product development, food quality and product testing, product nutrient analysis, marketing communications, and promotional strategy. Tracee's philosophy is food first, that nourishing food is information to the body and an important piece of the puzzle toward achieving optimum health and healing.

She co-authored two books: “Simple Foods for Busy Families” and “Great Expectations: Best Foods for Your Baby & Toddler.” Her expertise and recipes have been included in Reader’s Digest, Fitness, U.S. News & World Report, and many other leading publications.