Thanksgiving Can Be Healthy With These Delicious Insider Recipes

Chef YoYo Banks spends much of her week in Dallas teaching others to cook fresh ingredients in a fabulous fashion. Thanksgiving is no different – it is the biggest foodie day in America.  It is said that the average person eats more than 4,500 calories (in one sitting) on turkey day.


YoYo serves up a few of her favorite November side recipes (Crostini with Brie and Apple ButterCurried Ginger Carrot Soup , and Arugula with Fennel, Grapefruit and Pomegranate) below that will save calories, have less fat, but maintain amazing Fall flavors.

So heat the oven and whip up a fresh approach to healthier eating this Thanksgiving.


Crostini with Brie and Apple Butter

If you can find Camembert, use it instead of brie.  It is creamier, richer, and more flavorful than brie.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

16 slices baguette

1/3 cup apple butter, (recipe follows)

16 slices brie or Camembert, rind removed

1/4 cup fresh sage, chiffonade

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 cups apple cider

2 sticks cinnamon

3 whole star anise

1 tablespoon vanilla


Spiced Apple Butter   

1. Put all ingredients except vanilla in a large crock pot.  Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours or overnight.

2. Uncover and cook until thick and most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.  When the apple butter is done, turn off the crock pot and add the vanilla.

3. While the butter cools slightly, place jars and lids in the dishwasher on rinse cycle to sterilize.  Let dry completely in the dishwasher.

4. Fill warm jars with warm apple butter.  Keeps for up to 6 months in the pantry, 1 year in the freezer.


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush both sides of bread with olive oil.  Place bread on a baking sheet and bake for 2-3 minutes per side, or until lightly toasted.  (To reserve for later use, cool toast completely and place into a Ziplock.)

2. Turn the oven on broil, and assemble the crostini.  Place 1 teaspoon of apple butter on crostini, top with a slice of brie.  Repeat with remaining crostini; transfer to a baking sheet.

3.  Broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt.  Sprinkle sage over each crostini; season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Curried Ginger Carrot Soup


2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 cup onions, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced

1 tablespoon curry powder, preferably Madras

4 cups carrots, thinly sliced

8 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice


1.  Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  When hot, add oil and onions; saute for 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add ginger, garlic, and curry powder; saute for another 2-3 minutes or until fragrant; stirring constantly to keep from burning.

2.  Add carrots and vegetable stock; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, uncovered, until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.

3.  Working in batches, puree soup in blender or food processor.  (Cover with a towel and fill only halfway as hot liquid expands.).  Return soup to pot; add orange juice, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

4.  If soup is too thick, thin with more stock, if too thin, bring to a boil and let reduce until desired consistency is reached.  Soup can be made up to 3 days in advance or frozen for up to a month.  Bring to a simmer before serving.

Servings: 6


Arugula with Fennel, Grapefruit and Pomegranate

You can replace all or some of the arugula with spinach, bibb, or mesclun.


1 bulb fennel, shaved thinly

1 large grapefruit, peeled and supremed

1 medium pomegranate, cut in half, seeds removed and reserved

4 cups arugula, rinsed and dried

1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


1.  Using a mandolin or sharp knife, shave fennel thinly; set aside.  Using a paring knife, cut both ends of grapefruit.  Stand grapefruit up and cut the peel following the curve of the fruit, making sure to cut only the white pith.  (The pith is very bitter.)

2.  Hold the fruit over a small bowl, cut the flesh away from the membrane to release a wedge; repeat until all segments have been removed.  Transfer fruit to plate, reserving juice in the bowl.  Squeeze leftover grapefruit, extracting all of its juice; set aside.

3.  Place a small bowl in the sink, cut pomegranate in half.  Place one half of pomegranate over the bowl, flesh side down and tap it, using a wooden spoon.  (This is the best way to remove the seeds-the only edible part of the fruit.)

4.  Put arugula into a large salad bowl or plate; make the vinaigrette.  Add mustard, honey, salt, and pepper to grapefruit juice; whisk to combine.  Whisk in olive oil.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

5.  To assemble, toss arugula with vinaigrette.  Arrange fennel, grapefruit, and pomegranate seeds over arugula.

Serve at once.

Notes: You can substitute oranges or tangerines for the grapefruit.  If you can’t find pomegranate, you can omit it.


Be thankful today, have a healthy holiday, and remember… Fresh is Fabulous!

Follow @yoyobanks and for or these recipes and more, check out Yolanda’s website here.



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