Healthy Thanksgiving-Inspired Recipes

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

As kids, during the holidays, we couldn’t get enough of stuffing or those sugar-laden candied yams. But as adults, we know those dishes aren’t doing our health any favors! So I decided to reinvent a few holiday favorites and created some healthy Thanksgiving-inspired recipes you can enjoy year-round. They’re simple to make, packed with flavor and actually pretty good for you too.

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Turkey as a lean protein is a great place to start. We skip the skin and gravy, and make it healthier by sautéing it in olive oil, this time with a citrus twist!  blood orange flavored olive oil adds a sunny, buttery flavor along with heart-healthy “good” fats. Not only does it taste delicious, this “liquid gold” is packed with antioxidants like vitamin E. I also add a drizzle at the end for a warm, citrusy finish.

Rounding out the turkey is a zesty, jewel-toned cranberry relish. Just like red wine, cranberries contain resveratrol, a powerful, heart-healthy antioxidant. Paired with an orange – packed with Vitamin C – plus a drizzle of Blood Orange Olive Oil and some raw honey, it’s a tasty condiment that jazzes up turkey or chicken while protecting you from the inside out.

For a healthy side, I have a roasted root vegetable medley studded with rosemary for cozy, festive flavor redolent of the holidays. Deep purple, bright yellow and vibrant orange carrots, plus tiny potatoes that crisp up beautifully and creamy parsnip join forces as wholesome, satisfying side dish you’ll crave when cool weather hits.

Besides pleasing the eyes, the gorgeous colors in those root veggies and cranberry relish come with health benefits –  the natural plant pigments in them are antioxidant carotenoids and flavonoids. As a general rule, the more natural veggie colors you have on your plate, the more medicinal your meal. Besides Spicy Chicken Soup, I can’t think of a tastier way to beef up your immune system (just in time for cold and flu season!). We coat the veggies in herbaceous rosemary olive oil  – not just because it’s delicious, but because eating them with a healthy fat helps your body to absorb the carotenoids.

Let’s talk about rosemary, the fragrant and flavorful herb that ties both dishes together and brings out the best holiday flavors. Along with many of the other ingredients in this meal, rosemary contains health-boosting antioxidant plant compounds – so what most people think of as a garnish is secretly a nutritional superstar!

Healthy Holiday Recipes for Year-Round Enjoyment

My hope is that you’ll fall in love with these new holiday dishes that are much healthier but still taste delicious…

Citrus Sautéed Turkey Cutlets with Cranberry Relish

  • 4 thin turkey cutlets, organic or antibiotic-free
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp blood orange olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp natural salts
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Heat a large skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Salt and pepper both sides of turkey cutlets then sprinkle rosemary over top. Add 1 Tbsp of blood orange olive oil to pan then cook cutlets 3-5 minutes each side or until juice runs clear. Finish each cutlet with a drizzle of blood orange olive oil. Serves 4.

For the Cranberry Relish:

  • 1 navel or blood orange, quartered
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 tsp blood orange olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey

Rinse orange and cranberries, then quarter orange. Place in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until fruits are uniformly blended. Scoop relish into a bowl then stir in raw honey and blood orange olive oil, to taste. Serve with turkey cutlets; also very tasty as a sandwich spread for leftovers!

Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetables 

Use organic veggies when possible

  • 2 cups rainbow carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups baby potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp rosemary olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp natural salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Fresh rosemary for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add chopped veggies to large sheet pan, drizzle with rosemary olive oil then add a few fresh grinds of salt and pepper. Stir to coat evenly. Roast 30 minutes, stir veggies, then roast another 25 minutes until veggies are tender and caramelized. Finish with a few twists of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of rosemary olive oil, if desired. Serves 4.

© Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.

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