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Healthy holiday side dish recipes for stuffing, green bean casserole

Chef Alia Dala prepares a green bean casserole at The Chopping Block. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

You can update your holiday meals with some healthy side dish options. Here are two recipes from local chefs to help lighten the calorie load this holiday season.

Feasting sensibly — favorite holiday side dishes get healthy makeover

Paleo Sausage Stuffing as created by Joe Lessard, chef at KitchFix in Chicago, | Michelle Kanaar/For the Sun-Times

Paleo Sausage Stuffing (Courtesy Joe Lessard, Kitchfix)
Serve 8 to 10

Sausage mix:
1½ pounds ground turkey
½ teaspoon each: ground fennel seed and black pepper
1 teaspoon each: chopped fresh sage and thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
Coconut oil, for pan
Stuffing mix:
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup each: diced celery, celery root, red bell pepper, green bell pepper
½ cup peeled, diced Fuji apple
¼ cup toasted pecan pieces
½ teaspoon each: chopped fresh thyme and sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon each: kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup almond flour
3 eggs
1 cup chicken stock

For the sausage mix: Combine ground turkey with seasonings in a mixing bowl. Heat coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat and brown the sausage until fully cooked, breaking up large pieces with a spoon. Add to a large mixing bowl along with the juices.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Saute onion, diced vegetables and apples until tender; do this in batches, if necessary. Add to the sausage mix along with pecans, thyme, sage, parsley, salt and pepper, almond flour, eggs and chicken stock. Mix well. Spoon into a greased baking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Chef Alia Dala prepares her marinated green bean casserole at The Chopping Block. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Marinated Green Beans with Pickled Shallots (Courtesy Alia Dalal, The Chopping Block)
Serves 8 to 10

½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1½ teaspoons coarse-grind sea salt
2 shallots or 1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper
In a small pot, bring vinegar, maple syrup and salt to a boil. Drop in the shallots or onions and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, spoon shallots and liquid into a mason jar and let cool for at least 2 hours. The pickles will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Heat a large pot of salted water until boiling. Add half the green beans and cook until just crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water. Repeat with remaining beans. Drain well and let dry.

Add rice vinegar, olive oil, mustard and salt and pepper to a jar and shake to combine, or whisk together in a bowl. Thirty minutes to 1 hour before serving, toss vinaigrette with beans and top with pickled onions. This is best served at room temperature, but can be served hot or chilled too. If making ahead, keep the beans, dressing and toppings separate and combine 30 minutes to 2 hours before serving.

Janet Rausa Fuller is a local freelance writer.