Food Science

With holiday events and meals to prepare, eating healthy is a challenge. It’s important to know the science behind healthy food choices when you’re grocery shopping and how to use the ingredients. We’ve included a few dishes below to try this holiday season.

Turkey Cranberry Meatballs

Ingredients:Turkey Cranberry Meatballs with Sweet Potatoes
1 pound ground turkey

1 large egg

1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 cup 100% cranberry-apple juice

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

2-4 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries (optional)


  1. Combine turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder in a large bowl. Shape mixture into about 15 (1-inch) balls.
  2. Combine the juice, soy sauce and honey in a small bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch on top and whisk together well.
  3. Bake meatballs on a cookie sheet (spray first with cooking spray) for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Place meatballs into a 3.5-quart slow cooker. Pour the juice mixture on top and sprinkle with dried cranberries (optional).
  5. Cook on low, covered, for 1.5 hours, or until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Remove the lid and finish cooking uncovered for 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Cooking tip: To make ahead, place cooked meatballs in a zip-top plastic freezer bag, and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked. You may also use pre-made frozen meatballs, but they will likely be higher in sodium.

Nutrition information (2 meatballs): 177 calories, 6g fat, 17g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 14g protein, 376mg sodium

Yield: 1 ½ dozen

Nutritional highlight:
Turkey: Lower in saturated fat which can increase your risk for heart disease.

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 medium sweet onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Toss to coat.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes or until tender.

Cooking tip: To avoid crying while cutting your onions try cutting near an open window, under a thin sheet of water (be careful maneuvering the knife) or freeze the onion for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting.

Nutritional information (1 cup serving): 151 calories, 5g fat, 26g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 2g protein, 57mg sodium

Serves: 6 (1 cup)

Nutritional highlight:
Sweet Potatoes: A nutrient dense food packed with fiber, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and folate. Sweet potatoes also contain beta-carotene, which can help lower the risk of colorectal, esophageal, lung and head and neck cancers.

Onions: Provide a source of calcium, potassium and Vitamin C. Onions are also a source of quercetin which may help lower blood pressure and decrease total cholesterol.

Cranberry Vinaigrette

1 cup frozen cranberries

3/4 cup cranberry juice

1 tablespoon sugar

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Cook frozen cranberries, cranberry juice, sugar and garlic over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a boil, simmer 2 minutes, then remove from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients. Chill.

Nutritional information (1 ounce): 40 cal, 2g fat, 4 g carb, 0g protein, 235 mg Sodium

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Category: Nutrition

About the Author ()

Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center is the largest hospital in Missouri and the largest private employer in the St. Louis region. An affiliated teaching hospital of Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has a 1,800 member medical staff with many who are recognized as "Best Doctors in America." They are supported by residents, interns and fellows, in addition to nurses, technicians and other health-care professionals.

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