Pretty. Easy. Almond-Vanilla Baked French Toast

Pretty Easy Recipe - Baked French Toast

French toast is one of those dishes everyone should master for, say, a brunch when you want to cook for a crowd or a decadent breakfast-in-bed for Valentine’s Day. Either way, this recipe is the perfect place to start. It’s a departure from tradition because it’s baked rather than pan-fried, so you can put the focus on your guests or significant other rather than tending to a hot pan.
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Spinach Salad With Pears and Pomegranate

Raw Spinach Salad with Pears and Pomegranates Recipe

Some scoff at the idea of adding a salad to the Thanksgiving spread, but it’s an elegant way to start things off, and, if you’re watching your waistline, it’s an easy way to fill up on healthy calories before you dig into the rest of the meal. This seasonal salad works during the fall or winter, and brings a lot of festive color to the holiday spread with sliced pears, red onion, and tart pomegranate.
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Roasted Sweet Potato and Toasted Sage Dip

Aida Mollenkamp Easy Healthy Snack Recipe Sweet Potato and Toasted Sage Dip

My healthy-eating mantra is if you begin your meal off with a fiber-rich appetizer, you’ll fill up on healthy calories and eat better over the course of the night. So, I put that rule into effect when developing The Biggest Loser Thanksgiving menu and started things off with this Roasted Sweet Potato Dip and Toasted Sage Dip. It’s just a few ingredients yet packs tons of flavor and can accommodate almost any diet as it’s vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, lowfat, and low calorie.

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Citrus-Cranberry Sauce

Aida Mollenkamp Easy Healthy Recipe Cranberry-Orange Sauce

When it comes to a big meal — like, say, Thanksgiving — balance is key to success is balance. I’m talking balance of flavors, timing, and healthiness, but, most of all, balance of the menu’s difficulty so there’s a mix of showy and simple recipes. This cranberry-sauce is the ultimate simplicity and flexibility because it can be made ahead or day of as needed, can be halved or doubled at will, and served hot, room temperature, or cold. So, go ahead and go big on the rest of the meal — the cran sauce will be waiting patiently for its humble cameo moment.
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Herb-Orange Turkey with Pear Gravy

Aida Mollenkamp Easy Healthy Dinner Recipe Roasted Turkey Breast

From the moment I started working on this Thanksgiving menu, I kept thinking about the turkey. All the other recipes fell into place but the turkey was a bit of a puzzle. I wanted a recipe that would measure up to The Biggest Loser nutritional standards, but also be worthy of the Thanksgiving supper spotlight. And then, it came to me: craft a simple yet elegant turkey that used flavors from the rest of the menu to tie everything together.

While it’s no secret that the white meat on the bird is a lot better for you, it tends also dries out really easily so roasting it for the holiday can be a crapshoot. In this recipe, there are three major precautionary measures to ward off dry turkey. First, the turkey should be bone-on because that will help the bird cook more evenly and infuse it with more turkey flavor. Secondly, the turkey gets roasted in broth for the first half, which ensures it stays super moist despite the 90 minute cooking time. Third, the honey-orange baste brings another layer of flavor and moisture to the finished dish. Then, to further boost the flavor, the pears and onions in the roasting pan get blended up and used as the base of the gravy for a take on turkey that’s a fraction of the fat and calories.

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Pumpkin Pie Custard with Spiced Streusel

Aida Mollenkamp Easy Healthy Dessert Recipe Pumpkin Custard

As part of the menu I developed for this year’s The Biggest Loser Thanksgiving menu, I made this lower fat, lower calorie take on pumpkin pie. Yes, removing the crust immediately helped, but I also tweaked it in a few other ways: using lite coconut milk instead of cream, fewer eggs, and a whipped tofu topping so it’s also vegetarian and dairy-free. It may sound like a lot of substitutions, but the result is a spiced, subtly coconut crustless pie that’s every bit as decadent (in flavor) as the original.

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Sweet-Tart Quick-Roasted Grapes

Aida Mollenkamp Easy Healthy Snack Recipe Sweet-Tart Roasted Grapes

It’s been a crazy month, to say the least. While I’d hoped for crisp fall evenings that I’d spend making the first slow-cooked recipes of the season, it has instead been very busy with my “To Do” list seeming like it’ll never stop growing. It’s times like these that I go simple and quick in the kitchen, but never at the expense of flavor. Just because things are speedy doesn’t mean they should lack flavor, and I turn to high-heat cooking methods like stir frying, sautéing, broiling, and roasting to ensure that doesn’t happen. These sweet-savory quick-roasted grapes fit the bill perfectly.
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