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Healthy Recipes for Thanksgiving

November 14, 2018 | by Paula Shoyer

Traditional recipes made easier, more modern and healthier.

Thanksgiving is coming and now is the time to share healthy recipes for family events and memories.

Chef Paula Shoyer offers traditional favorites with a modern touch focusing on healthy ingredients, options for special diets and….simplicity for less stress.

Shoyer is the author of four bestselling cookbooks, the latest being Healthy Jewish Kitchen. Her writing and recipes have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and other major publications.

She studied at the elite Ritz Escoffier School in Paris, yet understanding that a family cannot survive on chocolate babka alone, Shoyer expanded her repertoire into the savory arena, with an emphasis on easy and healthy dishes that don’t sacrifice on tradition or flair.

“I take traditional recipes and make them easier, more modern, and healthier says Shoyer, who has competed on the Food Network’s “Sweet Genius” program. “I write cookbooks so that I can bring my recipes into your kitchen to inspire you to try something new, to cook from scratch and enjoy eating with the people you love while creating food memories that you can remember for the rest of your lives.”

Jewish cooks make Thanksgiving dinner every single week, so we already know the secret: spread out the work. Make your pie and tart dough days before and freeze them. Make soup and breads in advance as well. Make sure you have EVERYTHING you need to prepare the food on Thursday. Room temperature side dishes are a great way to save time during the meal because they do not need heating up.

Click here to find Shoyer’s books on Amazon

Carmelized Onion and Sweet Potato Soup

Yields: 10
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Storage: store in fridge for up to 4 days
Advanced Prep: May be frozen


  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 pounds onions, halved and sliced into 1-inch slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 8 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock

Preparation Directions

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and cook over high heat, stirring often, until onions are well-browned. This takes about 40 minutes. If the onions get a little stuck on the bottom, just stir them. You want the onions to be nicely browned, not burned.

Add garlic, salt, and white pepper and cook for five minutes more. Add the sweet potatoes and water or stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Cool slightly.

Purée the soup, using an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, until it is completely smooth. If using an immersion blender, purée for three full minutes. Taste for seasonings and add salt or white pepper as needed.

Sweet Potato Tart Tatin

Yield: 12 Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Storage: At room temperature for 2 days Advanced Prep: May be made 2 days in advance and reheated


  • 1 sheet frozen parve puff pastry (from a 17.3 ounce box)
  • Spray oil to grease pan
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons coconut spread, butter or margarine
  • ½ cup soy milk or cream
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch circles (look for ones longer than they are fat to make it easier to slice)

PREPARATION DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 400°F. Thaw puff pastry at room temperature for 45 minutes. Use spray oil or some butter or margarine to grease a 9 X 13-inch pan. Cut out a piece of parchment large enough to cover the bottom and go up the sides of the pan. Press parchment paper into the pan, making sure it sticks to the bottom, corners and sides. Set aside.

Place the sugar into a large wide frying pan or saucepan with 2-inch sides.Heat over medium heat and let the sugar melt without stirring. When the edges melt and color, start stirring, and cook for about five minutes until all the sugar has melted and is an amber color. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon, coconut spread and soy milk and stir. The mixture will bubble up but keep stirring until the mixture melts again. Once the mixture is smooth, add the sweet potatoes slices. Cook for three minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat.

While the sugar is cooking, place a piece of parchment paper a few inches larger than the pan on your counter and sprinkle some flour on it. Place the sheet of puff pastry on the parchment with the creases parallel to the longer side. Use a rolling pin to roll the pastry sheet out to about a half inch larger than the pan bottom. Lift the pastry off the parchment a few times and sprinkle a little flour underneath so the pastry does not stick. Trim dough to make the sides straight.

Use a spatula to lift the sweet potatoes and place into the prepared pan and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon any remaining caramel on top.

Holding the corners of the pastry to the parchment, lift up and place the dough on top of the sweet potatoes to cover completely. Peel off the parchment paper. Press the dough into the pan corners. Tuck any extra pastry into the sides. Use a sharp knife to poke 20 holes all over the pastry to allow air to escape.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top of the pastry is golden. Let cool 15 minutes and then place a rectangular platter over the pan. Flip the tatin over onto the serving plate. Remove the parchment. Store at room temperature for up to two days. Reheat to serve.

Cornbread Challah

Yield: 2 medium loaves Prep Time: 15 minutes to make dough, rising times 1 hour 45 minutes Cook Time: 30-35 minutes Storage: Covered at room temperature for 3 days Advanced Prep: May be made 3 days in advance or frozen


  • 2 envelopes (1/2 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup oil, plus 1 teaspoon for greasing bowl
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 to glaze tops
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 ¾ cups bread flour, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 1 ½ cups yellow corn meal
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

PREPARATION DIRECTIONS In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast into the 1/3 cup warm water and mix in the teaspoon sugar. Let the mixture sit for ten minutes, or until it thickens. Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl combine the 2/3 cup sugar, salt, bread flour and corn meal. Set aside.

When the yeast is thick, add the oil, 2 eggs and warm water and mix well with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients and mix well with the dough hook of a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour on your counter and place the dough on top. Knead until you have a mostly smooth dough, adding another tablespoon of flour if necessary.

Grease the bowl with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and return the dough to the bowl and rub your oiled hand on top of the dough. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a three-braided challah. Place loaves on a parchment- or Silpat-covered baking sheet and let rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the remaining egg into a small bowl and add a little less than 1 teaspoon water and beat well. Brush on top of the loaves and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden.


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