Ask An Atlanta Chef: Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes
By Marlena Turner
Living healthy is not a fad or trend, it’s a lifestyle. Those that work hard to maintain their fitness 365 days of the year, can find it hard to eat healthy during the holiday season. There are countless parties with family and friends where the food and drinks flow merrily, but staying healthy is still a priority for those focused on maintaining needed nutrients. Some of Atlanta’s most profound chefs, Chef Zu of King’s Apron, Chef Maurietta Amos of The UnforgEdible Kitchen and Good Sugar, and Chef Ryann Sharpe of Sterling Spoon Culinary Management shared some of their top healthy Thanksgiving recipes. Eat smart this Thanksgiving and try some of these amazing recipes.
Atlanta, GA 30340
Chef Zu, a sustainable plant-based chef and certified holistic nutritionist, is one of Atlanta’s hottest new chefs on the scene with a mission to empower individuals by offering education focused around holistic nutrition, urban agriculture and local plant-based cuisine. His startup, “King’s Apron” makes healthy living accessible to those within the under-served, low income communities throughout Atlanta. Chef Zu has a commitment to developing practical ways on how to sustain optimal health and wellness through nutrition. In the past 2 years, Chef Zu has fed over 6,000 individuals food via community feedings, workshops, live demonstrations and classes.
Jalapeno Apple Cornbread
- 2 cups organic fine cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon flax meal + 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup plant based milk + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 ¼ tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup organic unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup of shredded organic apple
- 1 small jalapeno (finely diced)
- 3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or pure organic maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Grease an 8-inch x 8-inch pan.
- In a small bowl, combine flax meal and water; set aside in the refrigerator to chill.
- In another small bowl, stir together milk and vinegar. Let both mixtures sit for 15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, place cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir. In the other bowl with the milk mixture, add the flax egg, applesauce, shredded apple, jalapeño, sugar, and oil.
- Whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Slowly pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- Stir until just combined, but try not to over-mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven; let the bread cool in the pan for a few minutes before cutting.
There’s an art to making moist and delicious cornbread, and Chef Zu’s recipe will be a homerun with the masses. When mixing Chef Zu’s mouth-watering jalapeno apple cornbread, keep several steps in mind to make sure your cornbread comes out perfectly. Make sure you preheat your oven beforehand for perfect baking consistency. Combine and separate your mixtures appropriately. Don’t over stir your mixture, it’s okay if it’s a little lumpy however, whisk until thoroughly combined. This amazing cornbread recipe is also a great base for stuffing too!
Related: Ask An Atlanta Expert: Easy Breakfast Meals for Kids
Chef Maurietta Amos
The UnforgEdible Kitchen and Good Sugar
After graduating from the French Culinary Institute in New York City, and working with some of the most renown chefs in the South of France, New York City, and Atlanta, Chef Maurietta Amos has accumulated a vast knowledge in the art of culinary cuisine. For over 10 years, Chef Amos has dedicated her focus to teaching in the academic and private sector, attaining several nutrition certifications and specifically teaching clients the art of flavor and food appreciation. Chef Amos also operates “The UnforgEdible Kitchen” where she consults and teaches life-style based cooking, and styles food for photo shoots and she also operates “Good Sugar”™ where she creates unique chocolate, non-chocolate confections, and European styled pastries on a contract basis.
Whole Grain Risotto with Winter Squash
- 1 ½ pounds of winter squash (butternut or acorn), peeled, cubed (1” dice)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and white Pepper
- 4 to 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (broth)
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced (about ¾ cup)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 1/2 cup whole grains (farro, whole grain risotto, barley or a mixture)
- 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Toss squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread onto foil lined sheet pan and bake approximately 25 minutes until the squash just begins to take on color and softens slightly.
- Remove from oven and set aside.
- While squash is cooling, heat the stock (broth) up and keep at a very low simmer – VERY IMPORTANT.
- Heat a large fry/sauté pan up over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
- When the pan is hot, add in the oil and heat the oil for 30 to 45 seconds.
- Add in onions and bell pepper and stir until soft and translucent.
- Stir in grains and dry cook them for about 1 minute.
- Add in about ½ cup of the stock/broth and simmer, stirring frequently until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- DO NOT RAISE THE HEAT.
- Continue cooking and adding in the broth (stock) ½ cup at a time until the farro grains are tender.
- Stir constantly. When 4 cups of stock (broth) have been added in, check the consistency of the grains (they should be tender but not mushy).
- If the texture is not creamy enough, add in more stock.
- Once the desired texture is achieved, remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.
- Add in the squash and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
Chef Amos savory whole grain risotto with winter squash serves as the perfect alternative to classic rice dishes served at Thanksgiving. Rich in carbohydrates, this recipe is full of whole grains which allow for slower metabolism during the digestion process. The heartier grains will fill your belly and keep you from going back for seconds and thirds this Thanksgiving. In addition, this dish can be modified by incorporating a multitude of other vegetables (such as roasted brussel sprouts, steamed broccoli, or wild mushrooms) in place of the winter squash. Tantalize your family and friend’s taste buds with this savory light and hearty dish.
Chef Ryan Sharpe
Sterling Spoon Culinary Management
4470 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Suite 465
Atlanta, Georgia 30338
Working for one of Atlanta’s top catering companies, Chef Ryann Sharp was a quick study in the field of culinary arts. With a solid 12 years of experience under her belt, her commitment to food excellence has awarded her prestigious scholarships for women in the culinary field including Le Dame de Escoffler. In 2014, she joined Sterling Spoon Culinary Management honing her craft in the culinary arts and building strong relationships with both clients and guests.
Chicken Sausage and Stuffing Stuffed Apples
- 16 Lunchbox Size Fuji Apples
- ½ pound Chicken Sausage (Delia’s is my choice)
- 1 tablespoon EVOO
- ½ teaspoon Coconut Oil
- ½ Cup Chopped Onion
- ¼ Cup Chopped Celery
- ½ teaspoon Chopped Garlic
- ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Dry Sage
- ½ teaspoon Fresh or Dry Thyme
- ½ Cup White Wine
- 1 ¾ Cup Chicken Stock
- ¼ Cup Craisins
- 4 Cups Diced Sweet Cornbread
- 2 Cups Diced Bread
- 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Core out the apples and remove some of the meat of the apple leaving the skin intact and about ¾ of an inch of meat all the way around.
- Roast the apples on 375 for about 13 minutes or until tender but still firm.
- In a sauté pan cook the chicken sausage and crumble.
- After Sausage is cooked through add EVOO and Coconut Oil to the pan.
- Sauté Onions, Celery and Garlic until just tender.
- Add the Crushed Red Pepper, Sage and Thyme to the hot pan and stir constantly for about 2 minutes or until very fragrant.
- Add white wine and reduce by half.
- Add Stock and remove from heat. Add Craisins and mix.
- Cut Cornbread and Bread into ½ inch by ½ inch cubes.
- Toast until dry like croutons approx. 15 min on 375.
- Toss everything together in a large bowl.
- Season with Salt and Pepper as needed.
- Scoop about ¼ cup of stuffing into each apple.
- You can prepare 16 apples and fill them all or you can make less apples and cook the stuffing around the apples as pictured.
- Bake at 375 for an additional 20 minutes or until stuffing is nice and crispy.
What makes this recipe a crowd pleaser is the delicate balance of sweet and savory achieved in the making. If you’re an Atlanta native, the special addition of chicken sausage from the iconic local neighborhood gem Delia’s, is an extra tasty ingredient worth giving a try. This dish is a great substitute for any pork dish normally served during Thanksgiving.
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