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Michelle Dudash’s shares low-carb Thanksgiving appetizers you can find in her new cookbook

Michelle Dudash, RDN, registered dietitian, chef and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families says it’s all about balance during Thanksgiving week, so she joined us today with easy low-carb appetizers from her new and upcoming book The Low-Carb Mediterranean Cookbook: Quick and Easy High-Protein, Low-Sugar, Healthy-Fat Recipes for Lifelong Health.

The Low-Carb Mediterranean Cookbook was inspired by my readers, viewers, colleagues, friends, and family who are always looking for low-carb recipes. As a dietitian, though, I wanted to pair it with one of the healthiest diets in the world—the Mediterranean diet. The recipe inspiration came from my travels to the Mediterranean and the foods I like to eat that are easily found in U.S. grocery stores. I also gathered my grandmother’s and great grandmother’s recipes, who emigrated from Lebanon, another Mediterranean country, to the U.S. when my grandmother was a baby.

Ground meat stuffed into food vesicles is a very Lebanese thing, so I came up with these Mini Bell Peppers with Turkey and Pistachios. They are a finger food that’s ready in 30 minutes from start to finish and have a pretty presentation. You can prep these the day before Thanksgiving and just pop them into the oven on the day of.

Mini bell peppers stuffed with turkey and pistachios

I love those raw sweet mini bell peppers for snacking. Just wash and eat! They also look adorable stuffed with ground turkey and roasted as little appetizers. You can prep these a day in advance and pop them into the oven right before party time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1-pound) bag mini bell peppers (about 16)
  • 3/4 pound ground turkey (93% lean)
  • 1⁄3 cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (see Recipe Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut off the tops of the peppers right between the straight sides and the rounded shoulders. Pull out the seeds and membranes using your fingers or dislodge with a paring knife. Poke a hole into the pointy tips of the peppers, making an air gap to allow for easier stuffing.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, pistachios (reserving 2 tablespoons for later), vinegar, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, coriander, cinnamon, and pepper. Using a small spoon or butter knife, stuff the peppers with the turkey, leaving a nice rounded top protruding out a bit at the top of the peppers. Gently roll the meat ends of the peppers into the reserved pistachios. Place the peppers on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Bake until the largest peppers are blistered and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Suggestions and Variations
  6. For a pepper-free version, you can shape the turkey into small patties and sauté in a bit of olive oil over medium heat.

Note: My preferred way to buy coriander is as whole seeds and then grinding only the amount I need in a mortar and pestle. It adds texture to the dish, where a fine powder can’t. And the aroma is dreamy. It’s one of my favorite spices, and I use it in Asian-style stir-fries, chili, and meat rubs.

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TOTAL PREP AND COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES • YIELD: 16 SERVINGS, 1 PEPPER EACH

PER SERVING: 57 CALORIES, 2 G CARBOHYDRATE (1 G FIBER, 0 G ADDED SUGARS, 1 G NET CARBS), 5 G PROTEIN, 4 G FAT, 85 MG SODIUM.

Shrimp-stuffed mushrooms with lemon and rosemary

I find that baked stuffed mushrooms at parties always get devoured. And I love them, too. While the standard recipes are delicious, I wish they weren’t mostly filled with cream cheese. In these stuffed mushrooms, I reverse the formula, using mostly shrimp and just a smidgen of good, real mayonnaise (or use cream cheese if you prefer).

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound baby bella mushrooms (about 22 mushrooms)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, cut into 4 pieces, reserving 2 tablespoons finely sliced green parts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 3/4 pound frozen peeled and deveined shrimp, thawed, tails removed
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated, then fruit cut into wedges, plus 1 teaspoon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Directions:

  1. Rinse the mushrooms briefly under running water, rubbing off any debris, and place on a towel. Pluck off the stems and slice off the bottom 1⁄8 inch, just enough to remove any shriveled edges, reserving the plump parts of the stems. Place the mushroom caps on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle the insides with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.
  2. Place the mushroom scraps, white and green scallion pieces (reserving the sliced scallions), garlic, and rosemary in a large food processor. Process until minced. Add the shrimp, lemon zest and juice, mayonnaise, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Pulse about 10 times, until the shrimp is mostly finely chopped, with some small pieces remaining. Generously spoon the shrimp into the mushrooms, pressing lightly to fill the crevices. Smooth with the back of a spoon.
  3. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and sizzling around the edges, about 15 minutes. Allow to rest a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the sliced scallions and serve with the lemon wedges.

Note: If you are feeding someone who doesn’t eat mushrooms, you can form the shrimp mixture into patties and brown on both sides in a bit of oil over medium heat. Scrumptious.  

TOTAL PREP AND COOK TIME: 45 MINUTES • YIELD: 22 SERVINGS, 1 MUSHROOM EACH

PER SERVING: 28 CALORIES, 1 G CARBOHYDRATE (0 G FIBER, 0 G ADDED SUGARS, 1 G NET CARBS), 3 G PROTEIN, 2 G FAT, 90 MG SODIUM.

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