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Bonus Recipe for the Weekend!

I’ve been reading Nick’s nutrition blog each month, and he’s got me thinking about food in a different way. It’s like there should be a REASON behind what we put into our bodies for fuel. We don’t pump our cars willy-nilly full of wine or salt water – we choose the right fuel for the job. Now, usually my reason for eating something is along the lines of, “Well, I just WANT this donut.” Or “I exercised today, so I DESERVE pizza.” Or, I’m bored...or distracted...or busy…and frankly not thinking about it at all! I recognize that’s not a healthy way of interacting with food – it’s just an expert way of rationalizing my unhealthy behavior. I struggle just like most of you with healthy eating, inflammatory pain control, and weight management. It’s even more important for me as a health care provider to practice what I preach to my patients.

To that end, I stumbled upon an amazing recipe that I’m excited to share with you. My office friends are getting sick of me proclaiming how flavorful this dish is. My husband is begging me to make it every weekend. It totally fits as a lunch or dinner on my Weight Watchers Freestyle plan (9 points). Some other bonuses? It’s a one skillet job that makes clean up incredibly easy. This lady hates doing dishes. I can whip this up in less than 30 minutes total even after a late day at work. The leftovers are amazing (heat in microwave for just over 2 minutes). It’s also a good excuse to bust out your grandmother’s well-seasoned cast iron skillet or splurge on a new one for your home kitchen. I love my 12” Lodge cast iron skillet so much it stays in a place of honor on top of my stove.

The original recipe and photo above are from this great healthy recipe website, but I put in my recommendations below. Like Nick does, I’ll try to give you some science and links to more information behind the ingredients so we know why we're choosing this fuel for our body. When I researched it, I discovered that this particular dish is a huge Vitamin A booster.

Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Skillet:

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil:

  • See Nick’s recent Facebook post about the benefits of different cooking oils when exposed to cooking heat. “This pale green oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which can lower heart disease and stroke risks. Research also suggests avocado oil has an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing CRP. It’s also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.”

  • 1 lb ground turkey:

  • Although 99% lean ground turkey is absolutely the healthiest option here, it gets easily dry. For this recipe, I use 93% lean turkey breast. I’m going to try it with the 99% lean breast next time. The fat in the cheese may balance out the lean of the turkey.

  • 1 tsp garlic clove, minced:

  • To be honest, I probably use more like 2 full cloves. Garlic is awesome. It’s an antioxidant (see Nick’s blog post on this topic here), good for heart health, and keeps those pesky vampires away.

  • ½ cup onions, diced

  • This has similar benefits to garlic, another allium. Get it pre-chopped at the store to save time, or chop your own to save money. Here’s a short video on a fun and professional way to dice an onion.

  • ½ cup yellow pepper, diced

  • Yellow peppers are a bit sweeter than your average green bell pepper. You’ll get a boost of Vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium.

  • 1 ½ cups sweet potato, diced

  • Here’s your fiber boost! Learn about other sweet potato benefits.

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • A pinch of red chili flakes

  • I’ve seen variations of this recipe with chili powder or cumin, but I don’t think it needs those spices.

  • 4 oz (1 cup) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  • Yup, cheese. We have to indulge sometimes, yeah? I use part-skim but not low-fat because I want it to melt. I’m going to try a soy cheese substitute at some point.

  • Fresh parsley for garnishing

  • Yes, it’s just a garnish, but adding a fresh herb to any dish when served gives such a bright pop to the meal. It looks great against the orange and yellow, and parsley actually gives anti-inflammatory benefit through more vitamin A and C.


  1. In an iron cast skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.

  2. Add ground turkey and garlic. Use a wooden spoon to break up the turkey while it cooks. Stir occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes.

  3. Add onions and yellow peppers and cook until onions are soft.

  4. Add the sweet potato, chili pepper, salt, and pepper.

  5. Cover the skillet and cook until potatoes are tender. Don’t forget to stir occasionally. If necessary, add a little bit of water to cook the sweet potato faster. [I do add a splash of water to steam the potato]

  6. When the sweet potato is tender, add shredded mozzarella cheese and put the lid on the skillet for a few minutes until the cheese melts.

  7. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Enjoy -- Let me know what you think about dish once you make it!

Dr. Cianfrini

P.S. Has anyone ever tried soy cheese shreds like this below? It SAYS they melt. I'm cautiously optimistic.

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