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Healthy Thanksgiving recipes

  • Staff at Preventive Cardiology Program
  • 11/26/2013 12:00:00 AM
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Healthy Thanksgiving pumpkin soupThanksgiving is a time to be thankful for family, friends and great food. This year, try making healthier alternatives to some of your favorite holiday dishes. The staff at Preventive Cardiology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital has researched some delicious and healthy recipes to put on your table this year. Remember, be creative and an extra side of vegetables never hurt anyone.

APPETIZER: Butternut Squash Soup

This year, instead of filling up on empty calories before the main meal, try eating a healthy soup!


A single (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped

6 cups chicken stock


Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve.

healthy thanksgiving brussels sproutsSIDE DISH: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are full of vitamin A, folacin, potassium and calcium making them a healthy choice every time.

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.

Healthy thanksgiving saladSIDE SALAD: Salad Greens with Pears, Fennel and Walnuts

Salad is a great way to incorporate more veggies into the main meal. Bonus: Walnuts are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids.


6 cups mixed salad greens
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 medium pears, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: Divide the salad greens onto six plates. Scatter the fennel and pear slices over the greens. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and walnuts. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Add black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

healthy thanksgiving turkeyMAIN DISH: Herbed-Rubbed Turkey Aus Jus 


For the rub:

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 whole turkey (about 15 pounds), thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup water

For the au jus:

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup apple juice

1 cup defatted pan drippings

Directions: Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, combine the sage, thyme and parsley to make the rub. Mix well and set aside. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and discard. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cool water. Pat dry with paper towels. Starting at the neck area, insert fingers or a spoon between the layer of skin and meat to gently loosen the skin. Place the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Add about 1 tablespoon of the herb mixture under the skin of each breast. Rub the outside of the turkey with the olive oil. Rub the remaining herb mixture over the outside of the bird. Loosely tie the legs together. Place into the middle of the oven. After about 1 1/2 hours, cover the turkey with a tent of foil to prevent overcooking. Check the doneness after the bird has roasted about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. The turkey is done when the thigh is pierced deeply and juices run clear (180 to 185 F) or when the breast muscle reaches 170 to 175 F. Remove the turkey from the oven. Let it stand about 20 minutes to allow juices to settle in the meat. Deglaze the pan by adding 1/2 cup water. Stir to scrape up the browned bits. Pour pan drippings into a gravy separator. Reserve 1 cup of defatted pan drippings for the au jus.

To make the au jus, combine the sage, thyme, parsley, honey and apple juice in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the defatted pan drippings and bring to a low boil, stirring often.

Carve the turkey and drizzle turkey slices with the herbed au jus. Serve immediately.

healthy thanksgiving peachDessert: Raw Peach Cobbler

This recipe is vegan, raw, gluten free, no-bake, easy, fresh and delicious.


8 ripe peaches
juice of ½ lemon
4 soft dates, soaked
1 vanilla bean, scraped
dash ground cinnamon

2 cups nuts
1 cup soft dates
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (or more to taste)
pinch sea salt

Directions: Wash and cut up five peaches into bite-sized chunks. Set aside. Remove the pits from the remaining three peaches and place them in a food processor with the rest of the filling ingredients. Blend into a smooth sauce. Pour over cut peaches and gently fold to combine. Rinse the food processor and add the topping ingredients. Pulse until a chunky crumble-like consistency is reached, or blend to your liking. Pour peach filling into a pie dish. Sprinkle topping over the filling, garnish.


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