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Scrumptious Salad Recipes to Lighten Up Your Thanksgiving Feast

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The Thanksgiving meal is a timeless American tradition. Turkey, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes are bound to delight your friends and family who gather around the table. But if you don’t have anything to balance out those rich foods, this feast may start to feel a little one-note.

While your guests won’t become part of the one in six Americans who become ill after consuming contaminated foods this year, they might feel a little groggy if you don’t include some greens on the menu. Here are just three different salad recipes you might want to add to the offerings to provide some color and some crunch.

Goat Cheese, Pear, and Candied Pecan Salad

Enjoy some of the most delicious flavors of the fall season packed into this salad recipe from Two Healthy Kitchens. If any of your guests have nut allergies (like the 5.3% of children aged 12 to 17 who had food allergies during 2016), you might want to leave out the pecans and swap them out for croutons or roasted chickpeas.

For the Salad:

  • 5 ounces of spring or mixed greens
  • 1 firmer pear, cored and chopped (1 and 1/4 cups total)
  • 1 cup of candied (glazed) pecans
  • 2/3 cup of dried cherries or cranberries
  • 4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

For the Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dijon mustard (smooth)
  • 1/16 teaspoon of kosher salt

After placing greens in a serving bowl or on individual plates, distribute pears, candied pecans, cranberries/cherries, and goat cheese. After all, kids need at least 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, dijon mustard, and salt. Dress salad just prior to dressing or pass the dressing around the table to allow each guest to dress their own.

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Salad

Brussels sprouts have, in recent years, enjoyed a bit of a resurgence. What was once a much-hated vegetable has now become a trendy side dish. Instead of roasting these sprouts in a pan or in the oven, you can enjoy them with an apple cider vinaigrette in a bowl using this Paleo Running Momma recipe. For a vegetarian-friendly option, leave out the bacon (or substitute with roasted tempeh). While this recipe is technically Whole30 friendly, it can easily be modified to fit your tastes.

For the Salad:

  • 1 pound of raw Brussels sprouts (shredded)
  • 8 slices of bacon (or turkey bacon), chopped
  • 2/3 cup of chopped hazelnuts (or other nuts)
  • 1 medium-sized apple, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • Pinch of sea salt (for nuts)

For the Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons of apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (brown or dijon)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of date paste, honey, or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 cup of light olive oil or avocado oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, being sure to save the bacon fat for the dressing. Put shredded Brussels sprouts into a large bowl and toss with chopped bacon and 1 tablespoon of rendered bacon fat. Heat the same skillet over medium heat and add nuts. Sprinkle with sea salt and cook for three to five minutes, stirring until they brown (but not burn). Toss nuts into sprout and bacon mixture, then add chopped apple. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add cranberries before tossing. Place all dressing ingredients (save for the salt and pepper) into a container and use an immersion blender to combine. Add seasonings to taste. Dress the salad and serve.

Pomegranate, Squash, Pistachio, and Date Salad

If you’re looking to meet U.S. Dietary Guidelines, which state that consuming at least 2.5 cups of fruits and veggies per day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, look no further than this salad. It’s packed with pomegranate seeds, autumn squash, and Medjool dates, which provide some tartness and sweetness. This visually appealing salad from Love and Lemons encompasses everything we love about fall.

For the Salad:

  • 1 small butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cubed)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 6 cups of spring mix greens
  • 2 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted and diced
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, crushed and toasted
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Dressing:

  • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tables spoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Medjool date (pitted)
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons of water, as needed (for blending)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place squash cubes on the sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to coat. Roast squash for 30 to 35 minutes until tender. While roasting, mix together cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne and set aside. Make the dressing by combining olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, date, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of water in a blender. Add more water as needed while blending. Then, remove the squash from the oven, let cool slightly, and toss the spice mixture onto the squash. Assemble mixed greens, add half of the quash, and toss with 1/3 of dressing mixture. Add the rest of the squash along with the goat cheese, dates, pomegranates, pistachios, and drizzle with more dressing as needed to serve.

Just because this holiday is about stuffing your face (and the traditional turkey), that doesn’t mean you have to turn down lighter fare. Armed with these delectable recipes, you’ll make your Thanksgiving meal a hit and showcase some of the freshest produce the fall has to offer.

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