Discover how delicious healthy food can taste!​

Instead of a traditional fat-laden bread-and-sausage stuffing, try this wholesome pairing of whole grains to accompany your holiday turkey. Barley and wild rice are a compatible twosome as they cook in about the same time. The result is an interesting side dish with a delightful chewy texture and nutty flavor. Serving the stuffing in a roasted squash bowls (see Tip below) gives it presence, making it a focal point of a festive vegetarian meal. 
Yield: 8 (1/2-cup) servings
2 tsp. olive oil or canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (1 large)
1 cup chopped celery (3-4 stalks)
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup wild rice, rinsed
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup slivered almonds (2 oz.)
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. salt or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste 
½ cup pomegranate arils (seeds) optional

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or 4-qt. pan over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring often, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add barley, wild rice and thyme; cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add broth and bay leaf; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, toast almonds in a dry, medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until light golden and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, toast almonds in a small baking pan in a 350°F-oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes.) Transfer to a plate to cool.

3. After stuffing has cooked 45 minutes, stir in dried cranberries. Simmer, covered, until barley and wild rice are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add parsley, vinegar, salt and pepper; fluff with a fork. Sprinkle each serving with toasted almonds and pomegranate arils, if desired.

Per (1/2-cup) serving: Calories: 190. Total fat: 5 grams. Saturated fat: 0.5 grams. Cholesterol: 0 milligrams. Sodium: 190 milligrams. Carbohydrates: 31 grams: Fiber: 5 grams. Protein: 6 grams.

Tip: You can make the stuffing ahead. Cover and refrigerate it for up to 2 days. To reheat, place stuffing in a microwave-safe dish or baking dish, add 1/4 cup water and cover. Microwave at High for 8 to 10 minutes or bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with almonds just before serving.

Tip: To make a gluten-free version, substitute brown rice for barley.

Tip: To make Roasted Squash Bowls: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut 4 medium Acorn or Carnival squash in half along the equator. Scoop out seeds. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each squash half, so that it sits firmly. Place squash halves, hollowed-out side down, on prepared baking sheet. Bake until squash flesh is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 40 to 55 minutes. Yield: 8 squash bowls. 90 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat and 3 grams fiber per squash bowl.

Recipe by Patsy Jamieson