Lighten up Thanksgiving

Cassie Smith | Published on November 21, 2016

Updated on March 13, 2018

fullsizerenderMany traditional Thanksgiving dishes are not exactly known for their nutritional benefits. The Calorie Control Council estimates the average American will consume about 4,500 calories from Thanksgiving dinner, and snacking before and after. That’s more than twice as many calories as we typically consume on a given day!

This year, why not bring a lighter and healthier dish to your family gathering? Try this butternut squash kale salad packed with nutrition and flavor! An added bonus: it can be prepared ahead of time (kale holds up better than lettuce would after dressed) and can be eaten at room temperature, so it’s perfect for the road trip to Grandma’s. Fill up half your plate with this salad and earn yourself a slice of that pumpkin pie you’ve been eyeing!

Butternut Squash Kale Salad


1 small butternut squash (peeled and seeded), cut into 1 inch cubes (you can buy pre-cut to save time)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 large bunch kale, chopped, stems discarded

¼ cup almonds, pecans or pumpkin seeds, toasted

¼ cup gruyere or parmesan cheese, shredded or shaved

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Directions: Preheat oven to 425° F. Toss the squash in a large bowl with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, tossing about halfway through. In the last 5-10 minutes, add the nuts to the pan and toast until they are lightly golden. They can burn easily, so check them periodically.

While the squash is baking, make the vinaigrette (recipe below). Add the kale to a large bowl (you can re-use the squash bowl and save a dish) and add some of the vinaigrette. Massage the kale for about 5 minutes. Taste to check that it is at your desired bite. Add the squash, cheese, nuts and pomegranate seeds and toss lightly. Add salt, pepper and extra dressing to taste.



1 small garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons honey Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon water

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Whisk the garlic, mustard, vinegar and water in a small bowl. Slowly add olive oil, whisking as you go. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

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