Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes 2010

by Charles Platkin, PhD

It’s Thanksgiving time. And once again, there will be no calorie lecture or list of forbidden foods from me — just a few wonderful, from health–conscious chefs.

Roasted Garlic & Meyer Lemon–Rubbed Turkey

Healthy Recipe by: Editors at EatingWell magazine and the new cookbook, The Simple Art of EatingWell by Jessie Price and The EatingWell Test Kitchen (Countryman Press, ).

Makes 4 servings

Roasted Turkey

  • 2 heads garlic
  • 3 Meyer lemons (see Notes)
  • 1/4 cup white miso (see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (10– to 12–pound) turkey, neck and giblets reserved for stock (discard liver)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups water, plus more as needed

Turkey Giblet Stock

  • 4 cups reduced–sodium chicken broth OR 6 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Citrus Gravy

  • Reserved turkey pan juices
  • Turkey Giblet Stock (or chicken broth, if using)
  • 1/4 cup all–purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice or 4 teaspoons lemon juice plus 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare the Turkey:

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat the oven to 400°F.

Rub off excess papery skin from the garlic heads without separating the cloves. Slice the tips off, exposing the ends of the cloves. Place the heads on a square of foil. Sprinkle with 4 teaspoons water and wrap into a package. Roast until very soft, 40 to 45 minutes. Unwrap and let cool.

Zest the lemons and place the zest in a medium bowl. Juice the lemons into the bowl through a strainer to catch the seeds. Reserve the squeezed lemon skins.

Add the miso, oil, chopped thyme and pepper to the lemon mixture. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into the bowl. Whisk until the mixture forms a paste. You can prepare the paste up to one week in advance and store it, covered, in the refrigerator.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Set aside the turkey giblets and neck for making Turkey Giblet Stock, if desired. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Loosen the skin over the turkey breast and thigh meat. Rub the paste under the skin onto the breast meat and leg meat and a little inside the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Place the reserved squeezed lemon skins, thyme sprigs and 2 of the onion quarters in the cavity. (You may not use all the citrus skins.) Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place the turkey breast–side up on a roasting rack set in a large roasting pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 hour. Add 2 cups water and the remaining onion quarters to the pan, tent with foil and continue roasting for 1 hour more. Baste the turkey with the pan drippings and continue roasting, basting every 15 minutes or so, for 1 ½ to 2 hours longer, or until an instant–read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F. Add water, 1 cup at a time, if the pan becomes dry.

To prepare the Turkey Giblet Stock:

While the turkey is roasting, combine the reserved neck and giblets (except the liver), the water, onion, carrot and celery in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. Reduce the heat and simmer, skimming and discarding any foam, for 1 hour. Strain the stock through a fine–mesh sieve into a medium bowl and let cool. Discard solids. If necessary, add enough water (or reduced–sodium chicken broth) to measure 4 cups stock.

Transfer the turkey to a clean cutting board (reserve the pan juices and onions).

Let the turkey rest while you make the Citrus Gravy:

Skim off any visible fat from the juices left in the roasting pan.

Whisk 1/2 cup of the stock with the flour in a small bowl until smooth; set aside.

Set the roasting pan over two burners on medium heat. Add the wine; bring to a boil and cook, scraping up the browned bits, until the liquid is reduced by about half, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups stock. Increase the heat to medium–high and return to a boil, stirring often. Boil until the liquid is reduced by about half, 6 to 8 minutes.

Whisk the reserved flour–stock mixture and add to the pan, whisking constantly, until the gravy thickens, 1 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice (or lemon and orange juices). Remove from the heat and pour the gravy through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup. (Discard the solids.) Season with salt and pepper.

To Serve:

Remove the string and carve the turkey. Serve with the gravy.

Nutritional Information: (3 ounces turkey without skin & 1/4 cup gravy) 200 calories; 6 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 2 g monounsaturated fat; 63 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 26 g protein; 1 g fiber; 250 mg sodium; 312 mg potassium.

Notes: Look for Meyer lemons from late fall to early spring in well–stocked supermarkets and specialty grocers. If you can’t find them, use 2 teaspoons lemon zest and 1 teaspoon orange zest plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 teaspoons orange juice to make the paste. Place lemon and orange skins into the turkey cavity.

Miso is undeniably salty, so a little goes a long way. White or sweet miso (Shiromiso) is yellow and milder in flavor than red miso. Look for it near the tofu in most supermarkets or natural–foods stores.

Garlicky Green Beans with Pine Nuts

Healthy Recipe by: Gurpareet Bains from his debut recipe book, Indian Superfood (Absolute Press, October 2010).

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons pine nuts
  • 12 ounces green beans, blanched
  • ½ ounce basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Pour the olive oil into a saucepan, add the garlic and pine nuts and cook over low–medium heat for about 2–3 minutes or until the pine nuts have slightly toasted and the garlic is aromatic. Remove from the heat.

Place the green beans, basil, black pepper and salt in a bowl. Add the garlic and pine nuts and toss to combine all the ingredients.

Nutritional Information: (about 3 ounces) 54 calories; 3.5 g fat; 2.5 g protein; 2.5 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber.

Note: The addition of a good dose of garlic to healthy green beans not only adds immeasurable taste but also helps produce more natural “killer” cells in the blood to fight off infections.

Yam Corn Bread Stuffing

Healthy Recipe by: Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific Diabetic Cooking (American Diabetes Association, June 2007).

Makes 10 servings

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups chopped, peeled, Louisiana yams (sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 5 cups crumbled cooked cornbread
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons fat–free low–sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Preheat the oven 375°F.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil and sauté the sweet potatoes, onion and celery over medium heat for 7–10 minutes or until just tender, stirring frequently.

Spoon the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the parsley and ginger. Add the cornbread and pecans and toss gently.

Add just enough broth to moisten the mixture. Place the stuffing in a 2–quart oblong casserole. Bake uncovered 35–45 minutes, or until heated through. Serve.

Nutritional Information: (3/4 cup) 211 calories; 5 g protein; 29 g carbohydrate; 9 g fat (2 g saturated); calories from fat 37 percent; 3 g fiber; 19 mg cholesterol; 355 mg sodium; diabetic exchanges: 2 starch, 1.5 fat.

Notes: For a time–efficient approach, prepare the cornbread and toast the pecans a day ahead.

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and enhance the nutritional value of this recipe.

Cranberry Pomegranate Fresca

Healthy recipe by: Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, authors of The Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Dinner’s Done! (Brown Bag Publishers, October 2010).

Makes 12 servings

  • 1 (12–ounce) package whole cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons lemon curd, or 1/3 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (from half a pomegranate)

Pulse the cranberries in a food processor or a blender just until roughly chopped.

Transfer to a bowl and add the lemon curd, stirring to distribute it evenly.

Stir in the pomegranate seeds. If using sugar and lemon, let the relish sit for an hour before serving.

Nutritional Information: (1/4 cup) 41 calories; 0 g fat; 0 g protein; 11 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 1 mg sodium.

Notes: This raw cranberry relish is fantastic spooned onto pork or grilled chicken breast. Pomegranate seeds are the perfect sweet “crunch” in every bite of this fresh–tasting and tangy relish. It’s also a tasty alternative to traditional cooked cranberry sauce.

Coconut–Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Healthy Recipe by:, published in Healthy Cooking October/November 2009.

Makes 12 servings

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup reduced–fat butter, melted (see Note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon all natural, no corn syrup added, pure vanilla extract

Place the sweet potatoes in a 5–quart slow cooker coated with cooking spray.

Combine the pecans, coconut, sugar, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt; sprinkle over the potatoes.

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in the extracts.

Note: This recipe was tested with Land O’Lakes light stick butter.

Nutritional Information: (2/3 cup) 211 calories; 7 g fat (3 g saturated); 5 mg cholesterol; 102 mg sodium; 37 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g protein.

Bulgur with Dried Cranberries:

Healthy Recipe by: Cooking Light Way to Cook Vegetarian cookbook (Oxmoor House, 2010).

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 cup coarse–ground bulgur
  • 2 cups (1/4–inch) cubed peeled English cucumber
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat–leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Cover and let stand 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

Add the cucumber and all remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine.

Nutritional Information: (1 cup) 197 calories; 9.6 g fat (1.3 g saturated, 6.7 g monounsaturated, 1.2 g polyunsaturated); 2.7 g protein; 28.2 g carbohydrate; 4.7 g fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.2 mg iron; 186 mg sodium; 27 mg calcium.

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