Ask A Seattle Chef: Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

By Jeffrey Totey

Believing that his customers should be treated as the most important person in the business, Shawn O’Donnell has been serving up food since 1987. Today, he has three locations of his American Grill and Irish Pub located in Everett, Seattle and Fremont.

Shawn O’Donnell
Shawn O’Donnell’s American Grill and Irish Pub
122 128th St. S.E.
Everett, WA 98208
(425) 338-5700

With revelations that the average Thanksgiving meal comes to about 3000 calories per person, many of us are looking for tasty ways to cut some of those down but still have a special meal. “Normally for Thanksgiving meals at the restaurant, low cal-lo fat is the last thing we are thinking,” says O’Donnell. “But Kristen Nannery (General Manger of the Everett location) is a career restaurateur who is a bit of a health nut.” Here, she offers her help to create the perfect brined and roasted turkey and a delicious way to prepare root vegetables as a side dish:

Brined & Roasted Turkey



  1. Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator. This will take 2-3 days. Once thawed, remove neck, gizzards, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Place in a 5-gallon bucket and store below 41 F.
  2. In a large stock pot, bring water, vegetable stock, and apple juice to a boil.  Add salt and continue to boil until salt is dissolved.  Reduce to a simmer and add remaining ingredients through bay leaves. Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 2 cups of ice. Let cool completely before brining the turkey.
  3. Pour the cooled brine over the turkey. Make sure turkey is completely emerged and covered with liquid. Add more water if needed.  Let rest uncovered for 18-24 hours in refrigerator or below 41 F.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry.  Stuff with sweet onion, apple, and carrot. Place in large roasting bag dusted with 1 tablespoon of flour (use cornstarch for gluten free).  Set turkey in roasting pan at least 2-inches deep and add ½ cup brine to bag, tie off, and cut 6 ½-inch slits in top of bag to allow steam to escape. Bake for 2 ½ -2 ¾ hours or until internal temperature reaches 180 F.  Remove from oven and cut open bag. Let rest 15 minutes before carving.

Related: Ask A Seattle Expert: Easy Breakfast Meals For Kids

Honey Brandy Roasted Root Vegetables

“We have been doing a lot with root vegetables lately,” says O’Donnell. “They have a bit of an Irish flair about them, they are cheap and there is an endless array and supply.”


Pre-heat oven to 450 F. Brush a sheet pan with olive oil.  In a large mixing bowl place carrots, parsnips, turnip, and fennel.Drizzle remaining olive oil, honey, and brandy over vegetables. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, white pepper, and tarragon leaves. Toss to coat using your hands or a spatula. Spread in a single layer over sheet pan. Roast for 10 minutes, then turn and stir vegetables. Roast another 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. They are done when tender and edges start to caramelize. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with pomegranate arils. Serve hot.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake

September Slater, Head Chef for O’Donnell’s Fremont location has an idea to replace the tradtional pumpkin pie dessert with something that is just as flavorful.





  1. Fill pie crust with the filling above.
  2. Bake at 350 F for about an hour. After an hour turn off oven let pie cool in the oven for another hour.

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