Is it just me, or does anyone else think turkey stuffing is kind of a strange concept? It's basically stale bread chunks, some nuts, meat, veggies and seasonings tossed together inside a big raw bird, roasted, soaked in all those juices, then plopped in a pretty serving dish and put out with your beautiful Thanksgiving meal. I don't know for sure, but I certainly think there are more impressive holiday dishes out there. Case in point: see below and keep reading!
There are different ways of preparing stuffing - inside the bird or out, meatless or not, cornbread or traditional white/wheat bread chunks, and a whole variety of flavor options. Well today, I'm going to give you a fun new option: A whole grain take on traditional stuffing.
This is another traditional Thanksgiving recipe I worked with Vida Health to develop. Most stuffings are loaded with fat, pretty darn calorie dense, and relatively nutrient poor. Instead of skipping the stuffing all together, try out this whole grain recipe that is lighter AND tips the scales in the nutrition department!
Consider the ingredients in this upgraded version of stuffing:
- Quinoa, that protein- and fiber-rich whole grain we love offers way more nutrition than the usual processed bread options.
- Pomegranate seeds boost the antioxidant power of your meal.
- An assortment of roasted veggies offer even more fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Walnuts and olive oil provide those awesome, heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
What's not to love about all that goodness? The herbs make the flavors the same as the stuffing you're used to, but the other ingredient swaps make this a nutritional powerhouse. Your dinner companions will thank you for helping them stay healthier through the holiday season instead of feeling weighed down and disappointed by all the less-than-healthy temptation around this time of year.
Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Stuffing
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes 8-10 servings
- 2 cups Quinoa
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 medium roasted leeks, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 3 parsnips, chopped
- 6 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup walnuts, slivered almonds or chestnuts, toasted
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds (these can be purchased as a whole fruit and deseeded or some stores sell the seeds on their own already removed from the fruit)
- Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
- Rinse quinoa well under running water and drain. Add quinoa and chicken stock to medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender - about 15 minutes, then set aside.
- While quinoa is cooking, wash and chop all vegetables and add them to a large bowl. Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil over veggies, toss to coat and spread evenly on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper on vegetables and roast in oven for about 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.
- Chop fresh sage, thyme and parsley and fold into cooked quinoa.
- Toast walnuts (or whichever nut you choose) in a pan or toaster oven, being careful not to burn.
- If using a fresh, whole pomegranate, remove seeds from pomegranate and pick through to remove any pith. (Click here to for a quick video on the easiest way to remove pomegranate seeds!
- Once vegetables are done, place in a large bowl. Add cooked quinoa and herbs, pomegranate seeds, and toasted nuts to bowl and toss to combine evenly. Serve and enjoy!
You can easily add a meat like traditional crumbled sausage to this stuffing. Look for leaner options like turkey or chicken sausage. Cook meat thoroughly and toss to combine with the stuffing mixture in large bowl.
Next up in the Thanksgiving dish makeovers: Green Bean Casserole! Any guesses on how I'm going to tweak this one!? What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Any desire to make them a bit healthier? Let me know and I'll be happy to help you out!
If you try this recipe or have any special requests, use #jeannereillyrd to show me your handiwork! Thanks as always for following me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook and sharing me with all your friends, family, coworkers, and strangers on the street. ;) I have availability for new clients at the moment, so if you know of anyone or any health-focused companies looking for a nutrition coach or consultant, send them my way!