I’d like to know when I went from sitting at the kids’ table to running the whole Thanksgiving show. I have the fondest memories of Thanksgiving, and all of them come complete with an aroma! Cinnamon and pumpkin are pervasive in my memories—as I’m guessing they might be in yours. I also remember hanging out in the kitchen helping to prepare the big meal.
This year, I asked the kids in my life what part of the feast they wanted to be in charge of, and Charlotte determined it would be the pre-dinner appetizer. We settled on ham and cheese with a bit of fruit. But just setting that out on a platter would not be decorative enough. So we created a potential centerpiece for the kids’ table, as well as a healthy snack for those waiting for dinner, both young and old.
Ham, cheese and fruit are what we decided would go on our skewer sticks. Online I’ve seen folks make the turkey centerpiece out of a melon (which would be much softer for the stick insertion) but I really like the look of a pie pumpkin instead. We chose ham and cheese rather than all fruit for the protein and calcium boost. Simply choose extra-lean, low-sodium ham and cube it yourself, or have the kids help. One ounce of lean, low-sodium ham can have just 47 calories, 3 percent fat, and 11 percent sodium. For crunch and interest, we skewered it with a tiny piece of a small gherkin sweet pickle. The cheese I chose was also light, a cheddar version that comes in at just 3 grams of saturated fat per ounce but also packs 8 grams of protein. We finished our skewer with a slice of kiwi. Kiwi is a great source of vitamins C and E, and potassium. Plus, they just look cool!
But I can’t leave you with just one recipe this holiday season. I checked to see what everyone’s family favorite is for Thanksgiving, and without a doubt, the Campbell’s Soup green bean casserole came in on top. And they’re right. It is tops. It’s tops in fat and sodium, too. Served as it shows on the back of the soup can, a single serving contains 530 milligrams of sodium.
So I’ve decided to revamp the original. Rather than break away completely, I am still going to use Campbell’s soup, but I’m choosing to go with the Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup. Then, to finish making it a bit “healthier,” we’ll make our own onion topping instead of using the French’s Fried Onions. The result is a version that will appeal to both the children and adults.
One more tip: I typically put the onions on just half of my onion casserole. I find it’s the favorite part for the adults, but can be a turnoff to some children.
What won’t be a turnoff is either of these recipes, so make, enjoy and remember to take a walk after the big meal. It’s a great way to aid in digestion and walk off a few of those extra calories.
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Chris Xaver, Ph.D., is a local TV and radio personality with three children and five grandchildren. Her healthy lifestyle show, The Sweet Life, is airing on public television stations nationwide.
Photo above: Chris Xaver Photo