Jenny McCarthy: Best. Meal. Ever!

John Russo

For Jenny McCarthy looking fit means avoiding comfort food high in carbs, sugar and fat. So, it may come as a surprise that McCarthy’s all-time favorite meal (which has outlived her stint as zany host of MTV’s “Singled Out”) is something that is often notorious for high calorie and fat content: traditional turkey dinner!

McCarthy’s been staying busy. She’s had acting roles in TV and film comedies, she’s written several New York Times bestsellers, she appears as the in-game “workout buddy” in the “Your Shape” fitness video game for Wii and Xbox Kinect, she’s been a vocal autism advocate through her involvement in Generation Rescue, and now she’s hosting “The Jenny McCarthy Show,” Fridays on VH1. This bombshell turned bake-sale mom still makes time to regularly eat sit-down family meals with her son, Evan.

“Including Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I like to have turkey dinner three times a month,” McCarthy says. “I love turkey breast with mashed potatoes and gluten-free gravy made from turkey juices, buttered corn niblets and green beans with sea salt. I don’t like cranberries, so I have strawberry jelly — I’m so white trash!”

Why She Loves It

“Turkey dinner is a concoction I can mush together. I like the multi-texture and multi-tastes — the turkey with the jam and buttered corn niblets and mashed potatoes — it’s great to have it all on a fork,” she says.

The classic turkey dinner recipe was passed down through McCarthy’s mother’s side of the family. “It makes me feel homey -- it was my mom’s best meal,” McCarthy explains. “She wasn’t that great of a cook, but Thanksgiving dinner she nailed.”

The “Scary Movie 3” star made some small changes to her mom’s original recipes in addition to insisting on a few healthy habits she adheres to when serving the meal. McCarthy says the reasons she made her own “turkey dinner tweaks” were in order to make it a stay-in-shape supper and also a meal that is compatible with her son’s allergies.

“The first change I made was turning to all organic foods after I had my son when I realized his health and clarity were so good that I decided to join him.” McCarthy recalls. “The difference organic foods made in my health made me a believer.”

A 2012 Stanford study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that organic produce may reduce exposure to pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria, increasing food safety.

McCarthy’s second swap came even before pouring on gravy and spooning out side dishes. She’s mindful of the caloric difference between white and dark turkey meat. By choosing to only eat white meat in a 3-ounce serving, McCarthy saves herself 45 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat.

“I also skip stuffing and dessert,” McCarthy says, describing her third and fourth turkey dinner trimming tweak.

Finally, here’s McCarthy’s most crucial healthy habit. Rather than presenting the turkey and sides in large serving dishes on the table, which would invite second helpings, McCarthy’s chef serves her turkey dinner (and side dishes) on one single-sized serving plate. An empty plate signals the end of her meal.

“I know my portion sizes now,” says McCarthy. For exercise, McCarthy runs 45 minutes daily, and she does strength-training three times a week. Additionally, she’s been a Bikram yoga practitioner for six years.

Here are the recipes for Jenny McCarthy’s Turkey Dinner:

Dry Rubbed Roast Turkey


Serves 6 with leftovers

INGREDIENTS 1 whole organic turkey (10 to 12 pounds) or just turkey breast, if only white meat is desired and you have less time to prepare. 1-2 cups water for the pan to add moisture to meat

Turkey Rub Ingredients Rub turkey all over with this recipe:

1/4-cup fresh chopped sage 1/4-cup fresh chopped thyme 2 tablespoons grated orange zest 2 tablespoons kosher salt

PREPARATION 1. Put turkey in pan large and place in refrigerator overnight. 2. Bring turkey out 1 hour before putting it in an oven heated to 400 degrees. 3. Place turkey breast side down in a “V” rack in roasting pan. 4. Place 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and one medium-size onion all cut into chunks in roasting pan along with turkey. 5. After 1 hour, remove pan and baste turkey, carefully turning turkey to breast side up. 6. Continue roasting and basting (every 20 minutes) until an instant read thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reads 175 to 180 degrees. 7. Add water if pan dries out (you may have to do this several times). When cooked, remove turkey and place on platter loosely covered with foil and let it rest.

Pan Roasted Gravy

Serves 6 with leftovers

INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup of dry white wine 4 tablespoons of butter 1/4 cup gluten-free flour 1/2 cup of strained broth (pan drippings and cooked vegetables) Salt and pepper

PREPARATION 1. While turkey rests, place roasting pan over burners on medium high heat. 2. Add wine; scrape bottom of pan to incorporate flavorful drippings from turkey and vegetables; let wine cook down a bit. 3. Strain roasting pan into a saucepan; press down on vegetables to release flavorful juices. 4. Let the gravy cool until fat rises to surface. 5. Skim fat off surface; melt in fat. 6. Add flour, whisking gravy constantly until lightly golden. 7. Pour half of strained broth in and whisk until all lumps are velvety smooth. 8. Add remainder of broth, whisking constantly. 9. Bring to simmer and whisk frequently until thickened to your liking; season with salt and pepper. 10. Serve with turkey and mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6 with leftovers

INGREDIENTS 4 pounds golden potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters 1/2 cup warmed half and half cream (half milk, half cream — you may use rice milk) 3 tablespoons cream cheese 3 tablespoons butter Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION 1. Put potatoes in 4 quarts pot and add water to cover. 2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender (25 to 30) minutes. 3. Pass cooked potatoes through a ricer or mash in bowl with hand masher. 4. Add all remaining ingredients and mash until desired creaminess is achieved (add more cream if necessary) 5. For more rustic texture, leave lumps.

Strawberry Jelly

Any organic grocery-store brand strawberry jam.

Corn Niblets and Butter

Serves 6 with leftovers

INGREDIENTS You may substitute fresh corn cut off of 6 ears for frozen.

1 bag of 16 ounces frozen corn (yellow or white) 2 teaspoons salt 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons cut up) 1/2 teaspoon of sugar 1/2 cup water 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch

PREPARATION 1. Add corn to large saucepan along with all ingredients except water and cornstarch. 2. Stir mixture over medium heat until butter melts. 3. Combine water and cornstarch, stirring until cornstarch dissolves. 4. Stir cornstarch mixture into corn; reduce heat to simmer; keep stirring until sauce thickens. 5. Simmer, stirring occasionally until corn is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Steamed Green Beans

Serves 6 with leftovers

INGREDIENTS 1 pound French green beans, stemmed 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper

PREPARATION 1. In large pot boil 4 quarts of water; when water boils add butter, salt and pepper. 2. Place beans in water and cook until desired tenderness is reached (5 to 8 minutes) 3. Drain water; toss beans with more salt and pepper to taste.

What makes turkey dinner a healthy meal

Brad Pilon, author of “Eat Stop Eat,” says McCarthy’s meal is an example of a balanced diet. “The meal is a great balance of protein, carbs and fats as long as portions are kept to an acceptable size,” Pilon says.

How to make turkey dinner even healthier

According to Pilon, who holds a degree in Applied Human Nutrition from the University of Guelph, McCarthy’s meal could get a burst of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits to combat free radicals (molecules that react with other substances in the body to create cell damage) by incorporating more herbs and spices.

“I'd try spicing it up by adding rosemary to the mashed-potatoes and red chili flakes to the green beans” he says.