Food Day Recipes Thanksgiving Edition: Spicy Sweet Potatoes & Cranberry Pecan Couscous Salad

Traditional Thanksgiving side dishes - like creamy string bean casseroles and savory mashed potatoes - are nostalgic foods for many, but they often come laden with unnecessary fat and sugar. Sure, Thanksgiving can be a time to splurge and throw nutritional caution to the wind, but it doesn't have to be that way through and through. This year, use Thanksgiving not only as a way to learn some new, healthier recipes for yourself, but as a time to expand the taste horizons of family and friends who have joined you in giving thanks. Here are two recipes that make excellent updates on Thanksgiving classics.

Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries & Pecans


From 'Food Matters Cookbook' by Mark Bittman

Makes 4 servings


1 cup couscous, preferably whole wheat


2 large carrots, grated

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup chopped scallions

¼ cup olive oil, or more as needed

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, or more juice as needed

1 teaspoon coriander

Pinch of cayenne, or to taste

Black pepper

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried


1. Put the couscous in a small pot and add 1½ cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water
to a boil, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep for at least 10 minutes, or up to

2. Put the slightly cooled couscous in a large salad bowl along with the carrots, pecans,
cranberries, scallions, oil, and lemon zest and juice and sprinkle with the spices and pepper.
Use 2 big forks to combine, fluffing the couscous and tossing gently to separate the grains.
(The salad can be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to a day; bring to room
temperature before proceeding.)

3. Stir in the parsley and sage. Taste and adjust the seasoning, moisten with a little more oil
and lemon juice as you like, and serve.


Per Serving (with ¾ teaspoon salt): Calories 450; Fat 24 g; Sat Fat 3 g; Protein 9 g; Carbs 56 g; Fiber 10 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 390 mg

Photo credit:


Sweet Potato with Caramelized Onions & Guajillo Chili Dressingsmoked-chicken-potato-salad.jpg

Adapted from ‘Mexican Everyday’ by Rick Bayless

Makes 6 servings


1/3 cup olive oil

1 dried guajillo* chili, stem and seeds removed

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 large red onion, chopped

2 pounds sweet potato, cut into ½-inch cubes


1. Pour the oil into a very large skillet and set over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the chili and garlic. Turn and stir until the chili is toasty smelling (about 30 seconds). Remove from the heat.

2. Put the chili in a blender with the vinegar and salt. Blend for 30 seconds. When the oil and garlic are cool, add to the blender. Set the skillet aside without washing. Blend the dressing until smooth.

3. Return the skillet (it will have a light coating of oil) to medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring regularly, until soft and richly brown, 9-10 minutes.

4. Add the sweet potatoes. Blend the dressing for a few more seconds and add to the skillet with the potatoes. Stir well. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and allow to cool. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Per Serving: Calories 240; Fat 12 g; Sat Fat 1.5 g; Protein 3 g; Carbs 31 g; Fiber 5 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 240 mg.

* You can use any mild or medium dried chili.

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