Kitchen InFerno: A Gobble-Free Holiday Meal

Healthy eating and college don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, but knowing the right tricks can help turn eating right into a daily routine. Let Kiersten Ferno be your guide for navigating the health-food scene without taking a chunk out of your schedule. Welcome to the inFerno.

Like many of us, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite meal of the year. My mother makes the most delicious food– everything from sweet potatoes, to mounds of homemade stuffing, to baked apples. It’s so good that I always make my parents host the family because I refuse to let anyone else cook the meal besides my own momma.

The idea behind this week’s column is a healthy twist on Thanksgiving dinner. We know, that might be an oxymoron, but don’t freak out! It’s definitely missing a few staples (turkey and sweet potatoes – alas!) But, the best parts about this meal are that it’s super simple, outrageously delicious, and light. You will not leave the table feeling like a sack of potatoes.

What you’ll need:

4 medium-sized chicken breasts
5 slices dense whole wheat bread
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon of parsley
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped almonds
Juice of half a lemon

1 large bag of Brussel sprouts
1 teaspoon minced garlic
A pinch each of salt and pepper
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 orange
½ cup white sugar
½ cup orange juice
1 cup chopped walnuts

3 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon butter
¼ cup flour
1½ cups water
A pinch each of salt and pepper

What to do:

First of all…do not get overwhelmed! I promise… we’ll go step by step so everything cooks at once.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally (so that you have two thin layers on top of each other).

2. Tear bread into crouton size chunks. Mix in a bowl with eggs, parsley, dried cranberries, and chopped almonds. Put a heap of stuffing on one half of the chicken breast, cover with top half of chicken, and sprinkle with poultry seasoning (if available).

3. Cover a small casserole dish with non-stick spray and lay stuffed chicken breasts in dish. Put in oven to bake for 25 minutes.

4. Now, for the Brussel sprouts. Cut off bottom stems of Brussel sprouts and slice in half. Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in pan on low heat with garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle generously with Worcestershire sauce.

5. Let Brussel sprouts soften and brown over low heat. Occasionally toss in pan.

6. Next, we’ll make the fresh cranberry relish. Wash and slice whole orange (peel and all!) into small chunks. Combine cranberries, orange slices, sugar, and orange juice in food processor (or blender). After chopped lightly, add walnuts. (Don’t let this mixture get soupy– the crunchy tidbits of fruit and nuts are what make it fresh and delicious!)

7. Back to the chicken for a second. Turn oven to broiler and broil chicken for 1 minute to brown the chicken and stuffing.

8. To make the gravy as a finishing touch, melt butter in pan on medium heat. Add chicken broth to pan and bring to a simmer. In a separate cup, stir flour and water until mixture is a milky color. Slowly add a splash of water to broth in pan while stirring. (The flour and water is a thickening agent, so use your judgment on how thick you want your gravy. Give it some time to simmer and thicken.) Let the gravy bubble, and serve hot!

It might look like a ton of steps, but this meal is as easy as it is light and delicious.

Tip From Inside the InFerno: Want to impress your family over break? Throw this together and watch your annoying brother’s jaw drop. You showed him!

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