Relaxed and healthy-ish Thanksgiving

In honor of the day I’m changing pace a little. Since I think caring for the temple that houses the soul is just as important to the spiritual path as meditating or practicing right speech, I try to healthy up Thanksgiving (by the standards of my most pristine eating friends, this is still a shudder-inducing meal, so be forewarned). I love Thanksgiving and I love the traditional stuff but I’m supposed to avoid wheat and dairy so the main changes I make relate to that but I have lots of little tweaks.

I also like to be able to feel good and enjoy the meal and give honor to the abundance on the table so I’ve learned to do some major pacing in order to keep Thanksgiving day as calm as possible.  

Sunday was dressing day. I made the stuffing recipe that is embedded in this turkey recipe from Barefoot Contessa. However, substitute Gluten Free Bakehouse stuffing cubes (from Whole Foods) which required adding 2 tsp. dried sage and 2 tsp. thyme to approximate the seasoned Pepperidge Farm stuffing. I just made it in a 9 x 13 pan since I wasn’t putting it in roulade. Then divided and put in freezer.

A few healthy selections

Monday was dessert day. Another Barefoot Contessa recipe, gingerbread with orange icing only I made a 9 x 13 cake instead of cupcakes. And I substituted spelt flour for wheat flour, and Tofutti sour cream and Tofutti cream cheese. Yummy. Cut it in pieces and laid out on a cookie sheet to freeze – later divided in containers.

Tuesday was cranberry compote day, using Emeril’s fresh cranberry compote recipe. No need for substitutions except Turbinado sugar instead of white!

Fresh cranberry compote

Wednesday was Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Beaumont Inn Corn Pudding day. I cook the sweet potatoes and mash with the other ingredients and then wait to cook the rest of the way on Thanksgiving.. I substitute Silk creamer for cream in the potatoes and in the corn pudding use spelt flour, Turbinado sugar, and a combo of Silk creamer and almond milk for the milk. Move frozen items to fridge. Make brine and leave to cool overnight.  This style corn pudding is a very Kentucky thing — I’ve never met anything quite like it elsewhere.  Beaumont Inn is an old institution; I can remember going with my grandmother and parents when we visited as a very small child and it was a historic place then.

Smashed sweet potatoes

Beaumont Inn corn pudding

On Thanksgiving it’s turkey day. Brine first. For the turkey and gravy I’ve long since combined elements from recipes from Tyler Florence, Ina Garten and Rachael Ray. Turkey is stuffed with cut up orange, lemon, onion and head of garlic.  Herb paste rubbed under skin and on outside is from this Rachael Ray recipe.. The pan gravy I lift from this Tyler Florence recipe.

The Star

Turkey

After spreading the work (and the DISHWASHING) over five days, I’m really calm and collected when it’s time to sit down for the meal and I actually enjoy myself instead of wishing the meal would end so I could lie down.  The tweaks make surprisingly little difference to the taste — one of my goals the last several years has been to produce meals that are satisfyingly yummy while still being healthy; while this meal is questionably healthy, it is definitely delicious and healthier than if I didn’t tweak.

When I was a kid we had every Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle and cousins and I loved being a big family for a change. My uncle Bill made up a song that we sang every year (to the tune of Frere Jacques): “Next Thanksgiving, next Thanksgiving, don’t eat bread, don’t eat bread. Stuff it up a turkey, stuff it up a turkey. Eat the bird, eat the bird.” We may not have been reverent but oh did we laugh.  Miss you Bill.

Hope you all had a beautiful and relaxing day! Thanks for reading my blog and to those of you who spark my interest every day with your posts, thank you so much!

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5 thoughts on “Relaxed and healthy-ish Thanksgiving

  1. I have to eat gluten free. When I was growing up it was the tradition to cook cornbread dressing but it still had bread crumbs in it, but it can certainly be cooked without them. Your dishes are mouth-watering. Thanks for the ideas.

    • Thank you. Hope they help you have more fun for the holidays. The issue I’ve had with things made from cornbread is that unless I make it myself there’s always wheat flour in the cornbread so I haven’t tried any of the cornbread dressings because I’m too lazy to bake corn bread (substituting spelt or gluten free for wheat) and then cut it in cubes and toast them….

  2. Reblogged this on Not Just Sassy on the Inside and commented:

    I’m making the same Thanksgiving dinner with substitutions for wheat and dairy that I posted about last year. This time I thought I’d repost in time for you to be able to get ingredients and do my several day calm cooking plan. Hope you find something you like!

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