A Healthy Thanksgiving: The Turkey

The holidays come every year and with it is the worry of over indulgence, which of course leads to weight gain. That in turn causes people to make usually false promises of fitness in the New Year.  Moderation is important in life. Over indulgence in almost anything is a bad thing. There is a balance that can be achieved. I am here to tell you that the holidays don’t have to be a never ending battle. It should be a time to relax and be with family, instead of worrying about the waist line. You can break the cycle and focus on the important things.

A few years ago, after moving to California, my brother Michael and our friend Chris came to visit for Thanksgiving. I tried to convince him to let me make a healthy alternative to Thanksgiving, but he wanted “traditional”. He was pretty insistent, and since I am such a loving big sister, I complied in my own way. I still bought organic and natural ingredients.  I made it as healthy as possible. It was a hit. It is hard to believe now, but I think at some point my brother was even a little skeptical about healthy alternatives to cooking; especially recipes around that holidays where nostalgia kicks in and people long for comfort foods and tradition.

This past year, I went full healthy mode. I made a Thanksgiving meal that was both pleasing visually, but also to the taste buds. I had to work this year, so the night before I did some prep work. I pre-chopped all the veggies and brined the turkey.

Pre Chopping Saves Time

Pre Chopping Saves Time

This makes brining so much easier.

This makes brining so much easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brining the turkey is a good way to make sure it comes out nice and moist. Since I had to work during the day, my plan was to cook the turkey in my slower cooker.  The night before Thanksgiving, I lined my slower cooker with a turkey bag and prepped the turkey while it sat in the crockpot. Doing this made it a lot easier to manage.  I took about 2 cups of sea salt, ¼ cup of lava black sea salt, and combined it in about 5 cups of cold water. The black lava sea salt provides a smoky flavor, but is completely optional. I happened upon it at World Market and thought why not give it a try. I allowed the salt to dissolve completely. This is an important step, but it does take some time. I would stir it for a few minutes, and then let it set. After it dissolved, I poured it over the top of the turkey. I added more water to cover the top of the turkey. I added 2 cups of parsley, 2 tbsp of pepper, and 2 tbsp of garlic powder.

Turkey Brining

Turkey Brining

I closed the bag and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I put the bag in the sink and pulled the turkey out. I washed the turkey off completely. I put the turkey, without the bag, back into the crockpot. I stuffed the inside with carrots and onion.  I placed carrots and onion around the outside too. I poured 2 cups of chicken broth around the sides. I sprinkled the top with 1 tbsp of parsley, 1 tbsp dill, ½ tbsp paprika.I sliced 1 lemon and placed the slices on top.  I covered with the lid and allowed to cook for 8 hours.

Presto! A moist, fall off the bones, Turkey! It was so good. One of the best turkeys I have ever had.  It was so simple really. No fuss.

Ingredients for Brine:
2 cups seat salt
1/4 cup black lava sea salt (optional)
6-7 cups of cold water
2 cups parsley
2 tbsp pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder

Slow Cooker Turkey

Slow Cooker Turkey

Ingredients for Cooking Turkey:
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp dill
1/2 tsp paprika
1 lemon, sliced
1/2 cup onion, diced
3-4 cups carrots, chopped

Instructions:
1. Rinse off turkey and remove giblets bag. Place bag and fold over sides of crockpot. Add the turkey.
2. In a bowl, combine 2 cups of sea salt and ¼ cup of lava black sea salt in about 5 cups of cold water. Allow the salt to dissolve completely.
3. After the salt is dissolved, pour over turkey. Add a little more water to cover turkey.
4. Add 2 cups of parsley, 2 tbsp of pepper, and 2 tbsp of garlic powder.
5. Close the bag and allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator.
6. After 24 hours, remove turkey from bag and wash turkey off completely. Discard the bag and contents.
7. Place turkey back into crockpot.
8. Stuff turkey with carrots and onions until full. Place remaining amount around the turkey.
9. Pour in 2 cups chicken broth.
10. Add spices on top of turkey. Place sliced lemons on top.
11. Cover with lid and allow to cook for 8 hours.

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