Dietitian Dish: A Twist on Tradition - Reinventing 3 Classic Thanksgiving Dishes

October 31, 2018

By Saba Zahid, RD
Patient Experience Manager, Unidine Corporation

The holiday season is a time of family, friends, and of course FOOD. These holiday get-togethers often include indulgent meals, and unfortunately a few extra pounds. The average-weight person typically gains one pound over the holidays. Those who are overweight gain an average of five pounds. While those numbers might not seem like a lot, we tend to only lose about half of that weight after the holidays are over, resulting in a gradual, annual weight gain that down the road can lead to serious health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

It is possible to enjoy the holidays without the extra weight gain. Check out this article on tips for healthy holiday eating. Another creative way to beat the holiday bulge is to reinvent traditional holiday dishes. Here are some ideas for a twist on the holiday classics:

Green Beans

Skip the traditional green bean casserole and opt for a lighter preparation of green beans this year. The key is to prepare green beans so that they are tender but not mushy. After this step of preparation, the options on how to season and serve green beans are limitless. You can serve the green beans as the main ingredient in a salad with tangy mustard vinaigrette or try an Asian twist, cooking the green beans with some soy sauce and sesame seeds. This Unidine recipe offers another idea:

Recipe: Green Beans with Citrus Butter (Makes 4 servings)


  • 2 2/3 Tbsp butter, unsalted (softened)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest, fresh (grated)
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest, fresh (grated)
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest, fresh (grated)
  • 2 2/3 tsp herb, chives, fresh (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 tsp herb, thyme, fresh (chopped)
  • 2 2/3 tsp herb, dill, fresh (chopped)


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine butter, fruit zests, chives, thyme & dill, blend thoroughly.
  2. In a steamer or in boiling water, cook green beans until al dente (slightly tender).
  3. Remove green beans from steamer, place in large mixing bowl while still hot, and add herb butter blend. Mixing well until thoroughly coated. Serve warm

Sweet Potatoes

When I think of sweet potatoes, I immediately think of my favorite Thanksgiving dish, sweet potato casserole. But there are so many different ways to the enjoy sweet potatoes, including a subbing a regular baked potato for baked sweet potato, in a hash, or even roasted. Try this recipe for some inspiration:

Recipe: Sweet Potato Kale Hash (Makes 4 servings)


  • Potato, sweet fresh (peeled & diced)
  • Spice, cumin, ground
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 tsp fresh minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup green peppers, diced
  • 1/4 cup red peppers, diced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil


  1. Toss the potatoes and cumin in a bowl. Spray a baking sheet with oil and spread sweet potatoes out on the pan. Bake in a 375F oven for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender. Set aside until ready for use.
  2. In a large sauté pan heat the oil. Add onions and garlic and sauté until the onions start to get translucent. Add peppers and sauté for a few minutes. Add the roasted sweet potatoes. Sauté vegetables until everything gets nice and brown but not burnt. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then add the kale.
  3. Serve warm. Pairs well with eggs!

Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower has been in the limelight as the star ingredient for the past couple of years. From buffalo cauliflower bites to cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower has proven to be a versatile ingredient. You too can feature cauliflower as an ingredient this holiday season. Instead of the classic mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving, try mashed cauliflower instead. No one will know the difference! Not ready to make the jump to mashed cauliflower? Try mixing mashed cauliflower and mashed potatoes for lighter mashed dish. Enjoy Unidine’s recipe below:

Recipe: Oh So Good Cauliflower Mash (Makes 4 servings)


  • 8 oz chopped cauliflower
  • 8 oz gold potato, peeled and quartered
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 oz vegetable stock
  • 1/2 c skim milk
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chives (sliced)


Boil cauliflower, potato, garlic, vegetable stock, and milk until the cauliflower is very soft. Using a blender or food mill, blend or mash everything until smooth. Stir in cream cheese and mix well until cream cheese has melted. Season with salt, pepper, and chives.

Give these recipes a try and show us what you’re making this holiday season! Tag us on social media @shoremedicalcenter and @unidinecorp.

If you are interested in working with a registered dietitian, schedule an outpatient nutrition counseling appointment with one of our dietitians at Shore Medical Center. For more information, contact us at 609-653-4600, opt 5 or visit our website.