Many of us, due to convenience or lack of know-how, pair our Thanksgiving turkeys with store-bought stuffing. Although easy to prepare, pre-packaged mixes are generally high in sodium and preservatives and low in nutritional value. Some popular brands even list high-fructose corn syrup among the most prominent ingredients. This recipe features a homemade stuffing that is simple to prepare, healthy and delicious.

It’s easy to see why soggy, store-bought stuffing although a staple at many a table is not a standout. This year, revive the dish by swapping brown rice for the traditional breadcrumbs. It’s a substitution that adds flavor, texture and nutrition. The addition of the whole-grain rice provides fiber, B vitamins and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

Sidestep convention even further with a burst of color. Sliced bell peppers break up the beige tones, adding sweetness and an excellent source of vitamin C. The fresh parsley, sage and orange zest further intensify the color and flavor palettes.

To appease traditionalists, the recipe retains the onion, garlic and celery that are synonymous with most stuffings. Apples and walnuts are added to heighten the autumnal flavors as well as add a pleasing crunch.

Autumn Rice Stuffing – Makes 16 servings (1/2 cup each).

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 bell pepper (color of choice), seeded and chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms of choice, washed and sliced

1 cup diced tart apple, such as Granny Smith

3 cups cooked brown rice

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 Tbsp. orange zest

1/2 tsp. chopped fresh sage

1 egg, slightly beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saucepan, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper. Cook over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the mushrooms and apple and continue cooking for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl.

Mix in the rice, walnuts, parsley, orange zest and sage. Add egg and mix well to moisten the stuffing. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Per serving: 92 calories, 4 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 12 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 13 mg sodium.

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, MondayFriday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $82 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Article Posted: November 21, 2007

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