We asked some of our favorite NYC restaurants for tips on simple ways to boost the nutritional factor of this year’s Thanksgiving meal — without sacrificing taste. Get advice below from the chefs at Greensquare Tavern, Dirty Bird To Go, HENRY’s and GustOrganics, plus tips from nutritionist and Clean Plates founder Jared Koch. (Don’t miss the Branzino and Kale Salad recipes at the end of the post.)
Tip #1: Try adding a fish course to your Thanksgiving meal.
Chef John Marsh, Greensquare Tavern
“Branzino filets cook quickly and are easily garnished and flavored for stress-free service during the Thanksgiving meal,” says Marsh. “Have the fish monger filet and bone the fish for you; one fish provides two portions.” See recipe below.
Tip #2: Create a nutrient dense vegetable dish as a healthy side (or vegetarian/vegan main).
– Joseph Ciriello, Dirty Bird To Go and Chef Mark Barrett and Henry Rinehart, HENRY’s
“Oven roasted brussels sprouts are a fun side dish,” says Ciriello. “Just keep it simple: a little olive oil, salt and pepper, throw it in the oven until it reaches carmelization. It’s a nice clean way to enjoy a veggie for Thanksgiving.”
Kale salad is another easy way to to get maximum nutrients with little effort. At HENRY’s, the Shredded Kale Salad is a best seller. “I’ve done raw, shredded kale lots of ways, but always with a toasted nut, a fruit, and a sprinkle of cheese,” says Barrett. Rinehart adds, “The combination of properly chopped kale with toasted nuts, juicy red grapes and a touch of Vermont maple syrup in the vinaigrette is pure magic.” See recipe below.
Tip #3: Use lean, high-protein, skinless, organic turkey breasts.
– Alberto Gonzalez, GustOrganics
Gonzalez recommends serving skinless organic turkey breasts instead of a full bird, noting that individual portions are perfect for smaller, more intimate holiday gatherings. “The secret to avoid dryness is to marinate for 24 hours using your favorite marinade,” he tells us (when in doubt, try olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of your favorite herbs). Next, sear the turkey in a pan, then finish in the oven. Gonzalez also suggests you make things fun for your guests by putting garnishes on the table like lemon slices, chopped parsley, capers, and whole-grain mustard. (If you prefer a whole bird, look for Heritage Turkeys.)
Bonus Tips from Jared
Our resident nutrition expert and Clean Plates founder Jared Koch suggests eating salad and a lot of other vegetables during your Thanksgiving meal. This helps in two ways: first, it gives your body the nutrients it needs to help deal with some of the negative effects of more indulgent foods on the table; and second, the fiber from the vegetables should help you fill up quicker, which can keep you from overindulging. Jared also suggests that preparing desserts with better quality sweeteners like maple syrup or raw honey, instead of plain old sugar, will allow you to satisfy your sweet tooth in a more healthful way.
Tell us: What are you planning for your Thanksgiving table?
Quick Branzino Filets
Chef John Marsh, Greensquare Tavern
1 Branzino, filleted
Lemon juice to taste
Fresh tarragon, thyme, marjoram, oregano and chive to taste
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Using a stainless steel or ovenproof glass pan, brush the pan with olive oil.
3) Lay the Branzino filets in the pan. Hydrate the filets with a mix of pure water and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
4) Bake for 5 minutes. Remove filets to plates to serve.
5) Transfer the liquid left from cooking the Branzino to a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Season gently to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a bit more lemon juice to boost flavor, check seasoning then finish the sauce by adding chopped fresh herbs: tarragon, thyme, marjoram, oregano and chive.
6) Drizzle sauce onto the Branzino filets and serve.
Shredded Kale Salad
Chef Mark Barrett, HENRY’s
1 T Grade “B” Amber Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (25%)/ Canola (75%) Blend
Kosher Salt (to taste)
1 Bunch Green, Curly Kale
1 Head Belgian Endive
1/4 Cup Toasted Hazelnuts
1/2 Cup Red Seedless Grapes
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1) Make vinaigrette by shaking vigorously lemon, syrup and oil. Season with salt to taste.
2) Wash and dry the kale. Remove tough middle ribs; stack leaves flat, roll like cigars, and julienne across the leaf’s veins.
3) Remove outer leaves of endive and cut in half, then chop on bias.
4) Mix together all ingredients, reserving some Parmesan for garnish.
5) Garnish with grated Parmesan, and enjoy!
Photo by robbplusjessie on Flickr