With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s safe to say the holidays are in full swing. Along with their arrival, it always seems like our intentions to eat clean go out the window faster than a Black Friday sale. Indulging is just way too easy with comfort foods, festive cocktails and Christmas cookies all over our Insta-feeds. Thankfully, the good people over at sweetgreen have plenty of guilt-free and seriously delish options for when you need to give your body a boost.
We caught up with sweetgreen’s Director of Culinary Innovation, Chef Michael Stebner, to get his healthy take on roast turkey, and what to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers. He also shared his tips for planning and managing the ultimate Thanksgiving feast. Sound good? Read through for his expert advice and some tasty recipes!
Thanksgiving Tip #1: Organize ahead of time
Grocery stores are chaos the day or two before Thanksgiving. Plan your menu well in advance, along with an itemized grocery list, so you can avoid the craziness. Stock up on pantry items and get to your local farmer’s market so you can take advantage of better produce options. “Being organized is the key to enjoying these holiday feasts and getting the best produce,” says Chef Stebner.
Thanksgiving Tip #2: Splurge on better butter
The best Thanksgiving recipes involve good old butter, be it your mashed potatoes or those sautéed green beans. To make your dishes truly shine, Chef Stebner suggests using cultured or European-style butters. These butters add even more flavor than your standard variety, so everything tastes better and you can get away with using less.
Thanksgiving Tip #3: Prep your turkey in advance
Stebner gets his turkey oven-ready the day before Thanksgiving. While any do-ahead trick saves time on the big day, dealing with your poultry beforehand also cuts down on the risk of food-borne illnesses from cross-contamination. Plus, you can make a delicious stock to use in your gravy and stuffing with the neck, giblets and wings. Follow Chef Stebner’s lead and start your stock first thing on Thanksgiving morning. He adds, “It makes your house smell so good.” Sign us up!
Thanksgiving Tip #4: Give your turkey a rest
Don’t carve your bird too quickly. Follow this advice from Stebner for the juiciest meat: “After you pull your turkey out of the oven, turn it over on the breast side, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to migrate back into the breast meat.” This tip is crucial for a moist turkey, and it gives you time to whip up some gravy before everyone eats.
Thanksgiving Tip #5: Get a jump start on leftovers
This tip for dealing with leftovers not only saves fridge space and tupperware, but also surprise bouts of snack cravings. Stebner says, “After Thanksgiving, I assemble 4-6 plates, each with all the ingredients from the dinner, and I individually wrap them tightly and freeze them. Then I have a stack of frozen turkey dinners that I can pull out and reheat whenever the mood hits me.” How genius is that?!
Recipe for the ultimate Thanksgiving-inspired salad
The typical Thanksgiving feast gets a healthy makeover in salad form. Make the roasted turkey breast and veggies below and toss with several generous handfuls of leafy greens and your favorite salad dressing. If you have leftover turkey or veggies, you can add those too or swap in place of the ingredients below.
Roasted Turkey and Brussels Sprouts Salad
— 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
— 1 sprig rosemary, stemmed and chopped
— 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
— 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
— 1/2 cup grape seed oil
— 1/2 cup warm water
— 1 teaspoon kosher salt
— 2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast
1. To make the marinade, combine all ingredients but the turkey in a blender and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Place the marinade and turkey in a large freezer bag and allow the turkey to sit overnight in the refrigerator.
2. The following day, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove turkey from the freezer bag and place in a shallow baking dish.
3. Roast the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 40-60 minutes. Remove turkey from the oven and allow it to cool before cutting.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
— 1 large sweet potato, diced into 3/4-inch cubes
— 4 cups Brussels sprouts, stemmed and cut in half
— 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
— 2 teaspoons kosher salt
— fresh cracked pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl with the oil, salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly to coat. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the vegetables in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pan. Use two pans if necessary.
3. Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes, or until well browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
What is your favorite way to #eatclean through the holidays? Tell us in the comments below.