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Down Home for the Holidays

Atlanta chef Joe Truex offers healthy versions of the holiday dishes he grew up with.

Turnip Gratin continued...

2. Place sliced turnips in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add half the cheese and all the thyme and toss together, then transfer to the gratin dish and pour on milk. It should just cover the turnips.

3. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Push the turnips down into the milk with the back of a large spoon. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and return to oven. Bake another 40 to 50 minutes, until all the milk is absorbed, the turnips are soft, and the dish is browned on top.

Per serving: 115 calories, 7 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 16 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 135 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 35%

Sweet Potato Pecan Parfait

Makes 8 servings

"Here's a healthy yet satisfying end to a meal. Sweet potatoes and pecans are a classic pairing, but unlike other desserts featuring the two, this one isn't cloyingly sweet," Truex says.


            5½       pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 large)

            1          cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

            3          Tbsp honey

            ½         tsp salt

            ¼         tsp ground cinnamon

            ¹⁄8        tsp ground nutmeg

            ½         cup unpacked light brown sugar

            2          cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped


1.         Preheat oven to 350º F. Roast sweet potatoes until soft and cooked, 30 to 40 minutes.

2.         When potatoes are fully cooked, remove and cool. Scoop potatoes from their jackets into a mixing bowl, and add yogurt, honey, salt, spices, and brown sugar. Beat with a whisk or electric beaters until smooth.

3.         Make alternate layers of sweet potato mixture and chopped pecans in a parfait cup or glass. Sprinkle top with chopped pecans. Serve.

Per serving: 489 calories, 8 g protein, 77 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 11 g fiber, 30 g sugar, 324 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 31%

The Simple Party Life

Here's how Chef Joe Truex entertains at home.

Keep it uncomplicated. This is not the time to attempt fussy recipes or make extra work for yourself. "I like to make pastas and braises and rustic things that I can cook easily and enjoy the process," he says.

It takes a village. "Even if you like to cook, it takes a lot of people to make a chef look good." He recommends establishing relationships with your local butcher, fishmonger, and other food purveyors. Talk to them about your menu plan -- they can steer you toward the freshest cuts of meat and fish, he says. They can also do some of the prep and trimming for you, and provide cooking tips as well.

Invest in solid cookware. "I'm a big fan of iron," Truex says. "I love cast-iron cookware, like Staub and Le Creuset." Using these heavy, sturdy pans redistributes heat and cooks food slowly, which is ideal for recipes like Truex's pork tenderloin.

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Reviewed on February 25, 2014

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