Getting a healthy meal on the table every night does not need to be a struggle. The key is to have a healthy meal plan that is flexible enough to accommodate the stresses of working families. The USDA recommends that Americans increase the consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, while eating less fat and sugar. Traditional Southern meals often contain far more fat and sugar than they should, but healthier options are available. Aim to eat healthy versions of your favorites on an everyday basis and save the high fat and high sugar versions for special occasions.
Eat Seafood Twice a Week
Not only is fish a healthy menu option, but it is quick to prepare. Save the fried fish for special occasions and opt for grilled salmon or salmon patties, Cajun blackened fish , seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits or shrimp etouffee. Serve with brown rice or wild rice, okra or green beans and tomatoes. Finish with a serving of fresh fruit.
Beef or Pork Once a Week
Throw a small pot roast in the crock pot in the morning for an easy week night meal. Add a little beef broth and an assortment of vegetables. It will be ready to serve when you arrive home after a long day. Thicken the juices to make gravy or serve it au jus. Use 1-inch pieces of beef to make a hearty crock pot stew in the winter.
Serve grilled or broiled pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes and a green salad. Stewed apples or ginger spiced pineapple are a nice sweet finish for this meal.
Poultry Once a Week
When you think of Southern chicken you probably think of fried chicken, but there are a lot of healthy options available. If you prefer your chicken fried, try a healthier oven-fried chicken recipe. Serve with homemade biscuits, corn-on-the-cob and a salad or green vegetable.
Prepare weeknight barbecue chicken: broil chicken breasts or chicken tenders in the oven or cook them on the grill pan, topping them with barbecue sauce during the last few minutes of cooking.
Stew chicken pieces with whole wheat noodles to make a healthy version of chicken and dumplings or cook them with rice for the Southern chicken and rice favorite. Offer green beans and tomatoes on the side.
Current nutritional recommendations include eating meatless meals two or three times a week. Traditional Southern foods offer many options for healthy meatless meals. Try a low-fat version of macaroni and cheese or center your meal around Southern peas and beans. Offer a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits and a square of cornbread with these meals. Sweet potatoes, baked potatoes or corn make good starches for these meals.
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Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for all that we have and have achieved in the past year. I include here some traditional blessings you can use, or allow your thanks to flow straight from your heart.
I know these things must always be
To keep our nation strong and free.
One is good health from food nourishing and dear,
Eating elegantly with loved ones far and near.
One is ready heart and hand
To love, and serve, and keep a peaceful land.
One is the Word and following His Way
Where people, daily, eat, work, witness and pray.
So long as these are kept alive,
Nation and people will happily survive.
We thank you, Lord, for all you give;
The food we eat, the lives we live;
And to our loved ones far away,
Please send your blessings, Lord, we pray.
And help us all to live our days
With thankful hearts and loving ways.
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything!
~Edith Rutter Leatham~
God, we thank you for this food,
For rest and home and all things good;
For wind and rain and sun above,
But most of all for those we love.
God is great, God is good.
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hand we are fed,
Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen.
Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies,
And our bodies to your service. Amen.
Thanksgiving has always been a big traditional holiday in my family. Friends and family from far and near gather to give thanks for all of God’s gifts. We celebrate with a big feast. My memories of thanksgiving center around the time I spend in the kitchen cooking with my mother and my own kids. We work all day to create the feast, but the conversations we shared are more important than the food.
It is so many times easier to do the cooking yourself, rather than ask for “help” from children. However, I encourage you to avoid taking the easy way out. Cook alongside your children, teach them not only to cook, but also to love.
I hope this menu helps you plan your own Thanksgiving feast. While this menu has quite a bit of cooking to be done, I will do some of it the day before. You can downsize it to fit your family and time available or ask the guests to bring one dish each. I am serving smoked turkey this year, it is so much easier, but I have included links for Roasted Turkey and Deep Fried Turkey for your conveniece. If you are roasting your turkey, consider brining it, if you have the time. All the recipes are posted her on Easy Southern Cooking. Enjoy! Diane
Toasted Pecans / Deviled Eggs
Smoked Turkey , Roasted Turkey or Deep Fried Turkey
Giblet Gravy or Turkey Gravy
Sausage Apple Pecan Stuffing
Creamed New Potatoes
Grated Sweet Potato Pudding
Green Beans with Bacon and Onions
Baked Squash Casserole
Holiday Cranberry Salad
Sweet Potato Pie / Pecan Pie
This Pear Relish recipes is sweet and spicy.
3 quarts ground pears
12 onions, ground
12 green peppers, ground
4 large cans pimentos, chopped
3 pods hot peppers
¼ cup prepared mustard
2 Tablespoons tumeric
8 cups sugar
1 quart vinegar
2 Tablespoons salt
Hot, sterile pint jars, lids, and rings
Combine all ingredients in kettle; simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, sterilize jars, and lids in boiling water, keep hot.
Pour into hot sterilized jars; seal.
Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes to complete seal.
This homemade tomato ketchup is far superior to the store bought stuff. Plus you control the ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup!
12 tomatoes, quartered
2 onions, chopped fine
3 green peppers, chopped fine
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 ounce whole pickling spices wrapped in a cheesecloth square
Hot, sterile pint jars
Combine all ingredients and cook slowly about 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Keep heat low to prevent burning and spattering. Remove the spices. The tomatoes should have fallen apart, but you can help them along using a “boat motor” blender. Pour into hot sterile jars and seal finger tight. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Make Avocado Orange Salad with fresh oranges or tangarines during the winter, if you can get a ripe avocado. In the summer use canned mandarin oranges for an acceptable substitute.
1 medium head Bibb lettuce
1 small cucumber
3/4 cup fresh orange or tangarine slices or an 11 ounce can mandarin oranges
2 Tablespoons diced green onion
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup salad oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Tear lettuce into small pieces, slice cucumber thin, slice avocado and remove the seeds from orange slices.
Toss all of salad ingredients together, or arrange on 4 salad plates.
Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend.
Pour dressing over salad and toss. Serves 4
Make this Chilled Zucchini Soup ahead and allow it time to chill. This is just perfect for those hot summer days when the garden is in overdrive.
2 large zucchini, unpeeled and sliced
1 green pepper, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped onions
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon parsley
½ teaspoon fresh chopped dill or ¼ teaspoon dry dill
salt and pepper to taste
Combine zucchini, green pepper, onion and chicken broth in a saucepan. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Strain vegetables and reserve stock.
In blender or food processor, put sour cream, parsley, dill and cooked vegetables. Add stock while blending.
Season with salt and pepper, chill.
Serve in a beautiful long stemmed champagne or martini glass, garnished with a dab of sour cream.
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