Thanksgiving Side Dishes: Carbohydrate Overload

Carbohydrates, both beloved and bemoaned. But what would Thanksgiving be without them? So, set aside your reservations about them and just tuck in for one day. One day. Everyone else is doing the same, and you can all pay the price with a stricter diet and more exercise afterward.

Table full of side dishes at Plus, if you eat them in moderation (but it’s Thanksgiving!) they can be a delicious and healthy part of your menu.

Which foods are high in starch?

This may be more than you want to know, but according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, all green plants produce starches. So, naturally, they are found in such places as the tuber of the potato and the seeds of corn, wheat, and rice, which is how they usually find their way into foods you’ll eat on Thanksgiving.

Here are some foods that have the highest starch content–as well as ideas on how to cook them for your Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Rice is the starchiest of all foods, generally speaking, with most forms of the grain containing at least 40 grams per serving. When used in moderation, however, rice is a delicious base for many side dishes you could serve, including: Troigros Chestnut Risotto with Red Wine or Lemon Asparagus Risotto. (See recipes below.)
  • Potatoes are also naturally high in starch—both regular spuds and sweet potatoes. Incorporate them into your feast through: Sweet Potato Salad, Sweet Potato Puff with Crunchy Praline Topping, Laurent Tourondel’s Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, or Leek and Potato Au Gratin.
  • Wheat flour breads are better for you than white flour because wheat flour is made up of starches that allow your body to draw nutrients and energy from them over a longer period of time. Consider these breads this Thanksgiving: Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread and Herb Pull Apart Rolls (made with wheat flour).

We do love our carbohydrates—and we do love Thanksgiving. If you pair starchy dishes with salads—and indulge in the potatoes sparingly—you’ll survive your holiday food coma just fine.

And rather than recline after lunch to watch athletes play football, why not start a pickup game in the backyard? Or, consider starting a new tradition of an After Lunch Neighborhood Thankfulness Walk where you walk the streets where you live and count your blessings.

Troigros Chestnut Risotto with Red Wine

French risotto that is earthy, rich and, like Troisgros, is not to be missed.

Print Troigros Chestnut Risotto with Red Winerecipe at Ingredients

  • 2 cups Carnavere French Risotto Rice
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Côte du Rhône
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth, heated
  • 10 whole peeled French chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to pass at table
  • fine sea salt freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions

The chef of the Michelin 3-star Troisgros restaurant shared his recipe for French risotto with us. Infused with the flavors of his country, mountain chestnuts, Côte du Rhône wine, and rice from the Camargue, it is earthy, rich and, like Troisgros, is not to be missed.

In the Emile Henry risotto pot or a similar casserole over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup of the butter. Add the onion and cook until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring to coat with the butter, until the rice turns slightly transparent. Add the wine and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

When the rice absorbs almost all the stock, add another ladleful. Continue in this way until almost all the stock has been added, about 20 minutes. Stir in the chopped chestnuts, add another ladleful of stock and stir for about 2 minutes. Remove the casserole from the heat.

Continue stirring the risotto for three minutes more. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup butter. Add the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Restaurant Troisgros.

Lemon Asparagus Risotto

Comfort food achieves a whole new meaning with lemon zest and asparagus!

Print Lemon Asparagus Risotto recipe at Ingredients

  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut on the diagonal, in one inch pieces and roasted (see Note)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • sea salt

Cooking Instructions

Emile Henry Risotto Pot at In a medium saucepan, over moderate heat, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

In a risotto pan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil. Add rice and stir until it is translucent at edges but still opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring often, until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

Continue in this way, adding broth 1 cup at a time, and stirring often, until the rice is half cooked, about 8 minutes. Be sure to allow each cup of liquid to be absorbed before adding the next. Stir in the lemon zest and the asparagus. Continue adding broth by cupful’s and stirring until rice is almost tender, about 10 minutes longer.

Cook until rice is tender but still firm to bite and the mixture is creamy. Remove from heat. Add the cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir until cheese and butter melt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve; pass the additional cheese at the table.

Serves 6.

Note: To roast asparagus, preheat oven to 425 F. Toss asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil and place on baking sheet. Roast in oven for 10 minutes, or until asparagus begins to darken. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt.

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet potatoes take center stage in this fresh potato salad!

Print Sweet Potato Salad recipe at Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, unpeeled, cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 4 ears fresh corn
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, diced small
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, diced

Cooking Instructions

Place sweet potatoes in pressure cooker. Pour 3/4 cup water over potatoes. Lock lid into place and over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce heat just enough to retain high pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Use quick release method. Remove lid.

Remove sweet potatoes and place on cutting board. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubes in a large bowl. Sprinkle potatoes with shallots, rosemary, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, mustard and hot pepper sauce. Pour this mixture over potatoes. Do not stir.

Place ears of corn in pressure cooker. Pour remaining 3/4 cup water over corn. Lock lid into place and over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce heat just enough to retain high pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Use quick release method. Remove lid. Remove corn and allow to cool.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions in oil until tender. Remove from heat.

Cut kernels from cooled cobs of corn. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes. Pour onions and oil over corn. Add diced tomatoes. Toss mixture gently. Transfer to large, shallow serving bowl. Serves 8

Sweet Potato Puff with Crunchy Praline Topping

Delicious, crunchy topping on traditional sweet potato casserole!

Print Sweet Potato Puff with Crunchy Praline Topping recipe at Ingredients

Sweet potato puff

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Praline topping

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 cup cornflakes cereal
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Cooking Instructions

CHEFS Italian Casserole Set at Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cook sweet potatoes, then peel and place them in a stand mixer bowl with a flat paddle attachment. Turn to speed 2 and add milk, sugar, eggs, butter, nutmeg and cinnamon. Continue to mix for 1 minute.

Spread the mixture in a greased casserole dish.

To prepare the topping: In a bowl add melted butter, cornflakes cereal, chopped walnuts or pecans and brown sugar and mix. Spread topping over the sweet potatoes and bake covered with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes.

Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking to make the crunchy topping.

Laurent Tourondel’s Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

Yukon Gold potatoes are key to velvety smooth and creamy mashed potatoes.

Print Laurent Tourondel's Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes recipe at Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • fine sea salt

Cooking Instructions

Put potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per quart of water. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes depending upon the size of the potatoes.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and butter.

Drain the potatoes and pass them through a food mill or a potato ricer while still warm. Gently fold in the warm milk and butter. Season to taste with the sea salt. Serves 4.

Recipe courtesy of Laurent Tourondel, BLT, New York.

Leek and Potato Au Gratin

Print Leek and Potato Au Gratin recipe at Ingredients

  • 4 medium russet potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, white part only, split in half and cleaned
  • 2 small bulbs fennel, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated Asiago or Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter the inside of a 2-quart baking dish. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until butter foams. Add leeks and fennel and sauté for 15 minutes, until tender.

Mix potatoes in a large mixing bowl with the cream, salt and pepper. Add cooked fennel and onion and stir to combine. Pour contents into baking dish. Top with cheese. Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until potatoes are tender and top is browned and bubbly.

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

Print Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe at Ingredients

  • 1 package rapid rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 12 fluid ounce evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup melted shortening
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Cooking Instructions

CHEFS Multi Colored Mixing Bowl Set at Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Allow to activate for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine milk, 1/4 cup water, shortening, honey, salt and wheat flour. Stir to combine. Mix in yeast mixture and stir to combine. Let rest 15 minutes. Add bread flour, and mix until dough forms a ball. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead dough for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free space. Let dough rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Punch down, and knead dough on lightly floured surface 3 to 4 minutes. Form into loaves, and place in buttered 9×5 inch bread pans. Butter the tops of the dough and let rise in a warm area until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tops are dark golden brown. Cool completely before slicing.

Herb Pull Apart Rolls

Fragrant rolls to complement any meal!

Print Herb Pull Apart Rolls recipe at Ingredients

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups flour (can use wheat flour or 1 cup of each)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill

Cooking Instructions

In a stand mixer bowl, add yeast, warm water and sugar until bubbles start to form around the edges. To the bowl add melted butter, flour, sugar, salt, thyme, oregano and dill.

Side dish preferences at Attach the dough hook, turn to speed 2 and mix for 1 minute or until everything is well blended. Continue at speed 2 and add flour in 1/2 cup increments and mix for about 2 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover it. Place the bowl in a warm place and let it rise for about an hour or until it doubles in size. Punch the dough down.

Flour work surface and rolling pin then roll the dough into a small disk. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and divide each piece again into 6 equal pieces an roll those pieces into 36 small balls.

Put three balls into each greased muffin pan and cover and let it rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Bake rolls for 15 to 20 minutes then cool on a wire rack.

Shop the Fresh Valley Collection at

Tell us what you think...

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s