With Thanksgiving a week and a half away; let the menu planning begin! Are you ready?
When consuming an anti-inflammatory diet, which is beneficial for everyone, holidays can be challenging. Particularly when you, your family, or friends, are accustomed to old favorite dishes. You know, the stuffing and cranberry sauce you have been eating since you were two, the pumpkin and apple pie that you look forward to all year. Your traditions! It can be discouraging when you can’t consume these things initially, leaving you wondering what to eat.
The good news is that with some planning you can have a flavorful, satisfying meal that won't sabotage your health goals or leave you feeling like you want to don your elastic waist sweatpants and hunker down with the remote and a bottle of Tums.
If you are cooking you obviously get to control the menu. To keep the family happy you might want to include some old stand-by’s and asking relatives to bring these dishes will free you up to prepare some lighter options. If you are not cooking, plan to bring a few dishes that you can eat to save last minute awkwardness. No one likes to discuss diet restrictions on this food centered holiday!
So let's talk food!
Turkey: the star of the meal! Purchase an organic turkey to avoid antibiotics, GMO’s, and preservatives. Don’t hold back on eating this part of the meal as it just might have you smiling the next day. Do you know that Triptophan, an amino acid found in turkey is a precursor to serotonin? This means that it will help your body to produce more serotonin, our feel good, happy hormone. Turkey is easy to incorporate into soups, salads, and wraps so aim to have leftovers!
Broccollini: swap or add in a low carbohydrate vegetable. Thanksgiving is prime time for starchy carbohydrate vegetables which can raise blood sugar. Squash, peas, and potatoes are a few examples. Broccollini is a low carbohydrate and elegant (I think) vegetable that will add some green color to your table. Steaming or sauteeing with some shallots makes this a quick side dish!
Mashed sweet potatoes: let’s be realistic; messing with the mashed potatoes is risky business. Family and friends expect them and want them! White potatoes have a high glycemic index and low nutrient density. You can maintain status-quo and serve them or make some mashed sweet potatoes which are rich in vitamin A, C, and slightly higher in fiber, yet still indulgent and delicious! Mashed sweet potatoes also substitute for candied sweet potatoes if you are a fan. Best to not load your mashed sweets with maple syrup and milk as they really only need some sea salt, cinnamon and a pat of butter or some coconut oil.
A raw salad is a fresh option to balance out this heavy cooked meal. Some arugula with pomegranite seeds or diced apples with toasted chopped walnuts and an olive oil/lemon juice drizzle would be nice. I’m all over this one!
The stuffing: this is another difficult staple that Thanksgiving purists have a hard time parting with. My suggestion is a wild rice stuffing recipe as it doesn't contain wheat/gluten, and dairy making it an anti-iflammatory option. If you choose to prepare a traditional bread stuffing, use extra veggies and and good quality fresh bread cubes (purchase a whole wheat baguette, tear apart , and let sit out to get a bit stale). Skip the prepackaged stuffing mixes and bread cubes as they contain trans-fats, preservatives, loads of sodium, and even sugar.
Beverages: purchase some pretty glass bottles of sparkling mineral water to serve along with a nice, large pitcher of lemon water for the table. I am always amazed that if I ask people if they want a glass of water they decline but no one can resist the sight of a glass pitcher of lemon water!
Desert: get some apple pie on the table for your guests and make my Pumpkin Pie Paleo Bread with Vanilla Coconut Cream which is sugar, grain, and dairy free. As an added bonus, this will double nicely as your Black Friday breakfast!
Bottom line: Have a blessed Thanksgiving friends!
Chew your food well as digestion begins in the mouth, eat slowly and mindfully. Taste, savor, and enJOY your meal. If you fall off your eating regimen, tomorrow is another green smoothie, extra probiotics day. Most importantly; enjoy every moment of your day because it will never be the same Thanksgiving day again with the same guests, as they are, at this moment in time.
Pumpkin Pie Paleo Bread
Grain, sugar, dairy free
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 15 ounce can pumkin puree
1/3 cup sugar free honey or regular honey
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 dashes giner
1/4 cup coconut flour
11/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a standard size loaf pan. Combine all wet ingredients. Combine all dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Recipe credit: Fastpaleo
Vanilla Coconut Whipped Cream
1 15 ounce can full fat coconut milk, opened and left in refrigerator overnight
1 teaspoon vanilla or crushed vanilla bean
1 teaspoon powdered xylitol/stevia combination
Open your can of coconut milk and leave the lid tipped up a bit. Put this in the back of your refrigerator overnight so the cream separates from the water. When this has happened (it still might be a bit thin; depends on brand but that is okay) scoop out the cream and put it in a bowl. Discard the water or use for a smoothie. Mix the cream with a beater until it looks like whipped cream or mousse (again, if thinner it will firm up in the refrigerator). Add vanilla. To make your powdered "sugar", put equal parts xylitol and stevia powder (2 tablespoons of each) into a nutribullet or high speed blender for a few seconds. Store leftover "sugar" for another time. Starting with a teaspoon or so, add in your powdered sugar and beat to combine.
Taste test this cream to determine if you want to add more vanilla or powdered sugar.