HOUSTON — Thanksgiving is all about family, fun, and food – LOTS of food!

But accommodating everyone’s dietary restrictions can be tricky.

Our experts with UT Physicians, registered dietician Teri Web and registered nurse Jose Sala, share healthy recipes and tips.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

(Serves ~ 3-4)

1 3-4 pound chicken (good quality)

2 small lemons

1 head garlic

1 bunch rosemary     


Black pepper

1.    Heat the oven to 350 degrees

2.    Sprinkle salt, black pepper and a handful of chopped rosemary on the chicken, rubbing it with your fingers over all its body and into its cavity.

3.    Wash the lemons in cold water and dry them with a towel. Soften each lemon by placing it on a counter and rolling it back and forth as you put firm downward pressure on it with the palm of your hand. Puncture the lemons in at least 20 places each, using a sturdy round toothpick, a trussing needle, a sharp-pointed fork, or similar implement.

4.    Place both lemons and the remaining bunch of rosemary in the bird's cavity. Close up the opening with toothpicks or with trussing needle and string. Close it well, but don't make an absolutely airtight job of it because the chicken may burst. Run kitchen string from one leg to the other, tying it at both knuckle ends. Leave the legs in their natural position without pulling them tight. If the skin is unbroken, the chicken will puff up as it cooks, and the string serves only to keep the thighs from spreading apart and splitting the skin.

5.    Put the chicken into a roasting pan, breast facing down. Cut head of garlic in half and place into the same pan. Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so you need not fear it will stick to the pan. Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over to have the breast face up. When turning it, try not to puncture the skin. If kept intact, the chicken will swell like a balloon, which makes for an arresting presentation at the table later. Do not worry too much about it, however, because even if it fails to swell, the flavor will not be affected.

6.    Cook for another 30 to 35 minutes, then turn the oven thermostat up to 400 degrees, and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes total cooking time for each pound. There is no need to turn the chicken again.

7.    Whether your bird has puffed up or not, bring it to the table whole and leave the lemons inside until it is carved and opened. The juices that run out are perfectly delicious. Be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shriveled up, but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze them, they may squirt.

Roast Winter Vegetables

(Serves ~ 3-4)

Bell peppers (red, yellow and orange)

2-3 zucchinis



Extra virgin olive oil



1.    Heat oven to 450 degrees

2.    Cut bell peppers, zucchinis, peeled carrots and potatoes into large bite-sized pieces. Place into baking pan.

3.    Drizzle a teaspoon or two of olive oil and spread it around the vegetable pieces and use your hands to make sure they are covered evenly.

4.    Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper into the vegetable mix

5.    Bake for 15-20 minutes or longer until the edges are a bit charred/until your desired doneness.

Healthy Holiday Sweet Potatoes

(Serves ~ 6)

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced

3/4 cup Truvia or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend 

3/4 stick of salted butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups of mini marshmallows (regular marshmallows)

8.    Heat the oven to 350 degrees

9.    Place the sliced sweet potatoes in a lightly oiled glass baking dish. Mix the brown sugar butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla in a glass bowl

10.    Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds and then stir.  Microwave another 30 seconds and stir.  Pour the mixture over the potatoes covering all.  

11.    Cover the potatoes with foil and bake for 60 minutes. 

12.    Remove the foil and add the marshmallows as topping.  

13.    Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees and bake 5  minutes to melt and brown the marshmallow topping 


Holiday Caprese

(Serves ~ 6)

5 vine-ripe tomatoes

2-3 fresh cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese

1/2  package (about 20) fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil 

1 lemon

1 tsp coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1.    Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface of a serving plate

2.    Wash and slice the tomatoes in about ¼ inch slices

3.    Lay them out on the dish in one layer

4.    Slice the fresh mozzarella in ¼ inch slices and lay on top of each tomato slice

5.    Sprinkle the garlic, salt, and pepper evenly on top

6.    Wash and tear individual basil leaves, place on top of the cheese

7.    Drizzle remaining olive oil on top evernly and squeeze juice, careful to avoid   adding seeds, from the lemon

8.    Serve slightly chilled, may add a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar if desired.


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