Sides of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a special time for embracing everything we are thankful for and displaying gratitude.  We can do that with food as well.   Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian, Jen Haugen, shares three foods to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and a special way your guests can share their gratitude.

Thankful for: 

Sweet Potatoes

We can be grateful that this vegetable contains more than three times our Vitamin A daily needs and has more fiber than a bowl of your morning oatmeal.  Jen will share why it’s important to have sweet potatoes on your table with a simple recipe.


Our appreciation of cranberries grows with their ability to prevent urinary tract infections.  Jen will share how to include cranberries on your Thanksgiving in a new way.


Thanks go to walnuts for supplying a heart-healthy nutrient – omega-3 fatty acids.  Jen will show you a simple salad that your guests will appreciate this Thanksgiving.

Gratitude From Your Guests

Let your guests share their gratitude by preparing Gratitude Crescent Rolls.  

Gratitude Crescent Rolls

All you need:

  • Ball-tip pen
  • Parchment paper
  • Refrigerated crescent roll dough (one roll for each of your guests plus some additional)

All you do:

  1. Have each guest write one thing they are thankful for on a 4-inch-by-1-inch strip of parchment paper.  
  2. Prior to rolling up crescent rolls, lay paper inside the dough and roll up.  Bake as package directs.
  3. Enjoy serving these gratitude rolls at the table. While everyone eats them, they can read what another person wrote. You can even guess who wrote it.

Sweet Potato and Turnip Mash with Sage Butter 
Serves 6.  Source: Eating Well

All you need:

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

8 oz turnips (about 2 medium), peeled and diced

3 large cloves garlic

30 fresh sage leaves, divided (12 left whole, the rest cut into strips)

2 tbsp Hy-Vee butter

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

1/2 tsp coarsely cracked pepper

All you do:

  1. Place potatoes, turnips, garlic and 12 sage leaves in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain. Return the vegetables to the pan and keep covered.
  2. Heat butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. As it melts and turns lightly brown, add the strips of sage and allow them to crackle and flavor the butter, about 1 minute.
  3. Pour the sage and butter over the vegetables and smash with a potato masher. Stir in salt and pepper and serve.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 88, Fat: 4g, Carbohydrate: 12g, Protein: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Saturated Fat: 3g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Sodium: 224mg

Cranberry Sauce with Star Anise
Serves: 16 (1/4 cup each) 

All you need:

10 whole star anise

2 (12 ounce each) bags cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)

1 1/3 c. Hy-Vee sugar

2/3 c. water

2 tsp orange zest

2/3 c. orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed

All you do:

  1. Place star anise in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with a piece of kitchen string. Combine cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest and juice in a medium saucepan. Add the star anise bundle and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have burst, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove star anise before serving. Serve warm or chilled.
  2. To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 89, Fat: 0g, Carbohydrate: 23g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Protein: 0g, Sodium: 1mg

Creamy Grape Salad with Candied Walnuts 
Serves: 12 (1/2 cup each)    Source: adapted from Eating Well, Inc. 

All you need:

Candied Walnuts:

1/2 c. Hy-Vee chopped walnuts

2 tsp water

1 tbsp Hy-Vee light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

Grape Salad:

1/2 c. reduced-fat sour cream

4 oz Hy-Vee reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

3 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 c. seedless grapes, preferably red and green (about 2 pounds)

All you do:

  1. To prepare walnuts: Line a small baking pan with parchment paper or foil; coat with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss walnuts in a bowl with water. Sprinkle with brown sugar and salt; toss to coat well. Transfer to the prepared pan. Bake until the sugar is melted and the nuts are barely starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool in the pan until the sugar hardens, about 6 minutes.
  3. To prepare salad: Meanwhile, combine sour cream, cream cheese, honey and vanilla in a food processor; puree until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl. Add grapes; gently stir to combine. Transfer to a serving dish. Crumble the candied walnuts on top just before serving.
  4. To make ahead: Store candied walnuts at room temperature for up to 8 hours; refrigerate salad for up to 8 hours. Top the salad with the walnuts just before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 143, Fat: 7g, Carbohydrate: 21g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 11mg, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Protein: 2g, Sodium: 50mg

Jen Haugen represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.  Jen is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.