Last week I mentioned that my Thanksgiving meals are a lot healthier now than they used to be. So, how did I do that without giving up all the traditional Thanksgiving fare? The answer is, “recipe by recipe.” Let me give you some examples.
Cranberry Salad: My mom’s original recipe, which she found in a magazine probably in the 1950’s, called for cranberries, celery, an orange, nuts, a package of Jello, and two cups (yes, two) of sugar. By the time I was old enough to cook, she had already cut out one of those cups of sugar. My recipe, based upon this classic one, omits the jello and uses only 3/4 cup of organic sugar. The rest of the ingredients are organic as well. It is a fresh and tasty alternative to most over-sweet cranberry concoctions.
Mashed potatoes: In the 1970’s, butter was bad and margarine was king. Now we know that just the opposite is true. Margarine is loaded with inflammation-causing trans-fats, and butter is now considered a superfood. Choose organic potatoes (white potatoes are on the Dirty Dozen list!) and use real grass-fed, organic butter. Your mashed potatoes will be divinely decadent and much better for you. To make them dairy-free, use broth instead of milk and substitute ghee for the butter.
Sweet potatoes: Does your family still expect the same sweet potato casserole with the marshmallow that your Great-Aunt Marge brought to family gatherings since the 1960’s? You might want to institute a new tradition this year. Sweet potatoes are, well, sweet, and so you may not need extra cups of sugar. Try cutting the sugar in half, at least, and make both the sugar and the sweet potatoes organic. Top with a few pecans and leave the marshmallows off. Please. Better yet, you can try my recipe for Sweet Potato Salad. It is a colorful and tasty addition to your holiday meal. Make it the day before to ease your workload on Thanksgiving morning.
Dressing: I have not had dressing at my Thanksgiving meal in several years. This year I’m attempting to make our traditional dressing, but with gluten-free ingredients. I’ll let you know how it turns out. As much as possible, for this and other dishes, think organic, and add healthy ingredients. This will be a place where I’ll add homemade broth to the mix. Broth is so incredibly healthy it deserves its own discussion. No homemade broth? Make sure the brand you choose has an ingredients label you can pronounce. Celery is a better ingredient than monosodium glutamate.
Green Beans tend to be one of the lighter dishes at a Thanksgiving table. Matter of fact, when I go to holiday pot luck dinners, I like to bring green beans because they are much needed in the sea of rich dishes. Make a big bowl and season them with rosemary, sea salt, pepper and olive oil. Easy. Delicious.
Gravy: Homemade stock ups the nutritional quotient on gravy. You can make it from the broth from your turkey. But you can also use canned broth. Buy good quality, organic ingredients for your gravy. I’d love to share a recipe with you, but my gravy is still a work in progress. See the story here.
I’ve mentioned broth at least three times. I use a lot of broth at Thanksgiving, and all year long. You can buy your broth, but homemade stock is one of the most nutritious and mineral-rich foods on the planet. Next week I’ll share more info and a recipe; stay tuned. You’ll want to know what to do with those leftover turkey bones.