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A Healthy Thanksgiving

When WWHF decided we wanted to post about a healthy Thanksgiving side dish option, we knew exactly how to ask. Our dear friend, Cammie, who writes Polka Dotted Peony has graciously provided us with a delicious Wheat Berry Salad recipe! Read on:

healthy holiday side dishes

If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for healthy holiday side dish options that showcase bright and delicious flavor, appealing texture, and requests for second helpings.  As a hostess (or as a guest that’s offered to bring an accompanying dish), I hope to provide family and friends with yummy food that leads to happy bellies, and the wonderful thing is we can be thankful there are lots of great alternatives to traditional not-as-healthy holiday dishes.

Enter the beautiful wheat berry.
My mom, introduced me to wheat berries several years ago, and like most things, she was exactly right when boasted their nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture.  Yum.
Our family makes her version of the wheat berry salad for various occasions, and it’s always a hit.  It’s festive and just a little different. It’s also dairy-free, so if you have loved ones with dietary restrictions, this could be a really nice option.
Joan’s Wheat Berry Salad
Serves 4
healthy salad
The recipe:
// ingredients //
1 cup uncooked wheat berries (I like Bob’s Red Mill brand, mainly because I can find it at Target)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 large fresh red pepper, diced (any color pepper would be lovely)
1 medium red onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
// instructions //
Cook wheat berries according to the instructions on the package (usually cooking in several cups of water under a rolling boil, covered for 45 minutes or so).
While the wheat berries are cooking, caramelize one medium red onion with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Saute them on lowish heat (3-4 worked well on my stove) until they’re iridescent and soft.  Set aside.
Drain the water off the berries, and while they are still hot, pour on the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This will help the dressing absorb into the berries. 
In a medium bowl, combine dressed wheat berries with diced red pepper and caramelized red onion. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper to taste.  
Serve at room temperature.
Side note: This recipe is so flexible, which is part of the reason I love it.  Try adding dried cranberries and slivered almonds for a festive twist. If you like a little more heat, up the cayenne pepper a bit.  Love those peppers? Add more!

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