Thanksgiving. Does it make you smile or make you crazy? Maybe a little bit of both? Coming up with the perfect meal can be a challenge. Things have changed when it comes to holiday meals. As a kid I don’t ever remember hearing anyone say, “I can’t eat that, I have a sensitivity”. But in my line of work I know these sensitivities are real.
Food & chemical sensitivities can make it difficult to prepare a meal that will satisfy everyone and they can also make it difficult to attend a holiday gathering and enjoy your meal. In the beginning of the healing process you may still be trying to find where your reactive items are hidden. Heads up: mixes, sauces, and dressings are notorious for hiding commonly reactive and even unhealthy ingredients! Communicate openly with your host about your food limitations and maybe offer to bring a dish to help.
In our home we like to stick to traditions but with a more modern (insert healthy) twist. Let’s start with the turkey. I’m not sure why my mom used to get up at 4 a.m. to prepare a turkey but she did – I vowed I would never do such a thing. Not to mention, who really wants to eat variations of turkey every day for a week after because you’ve roasted a 30 lb. bird? Eating the same thing over and over sets us up for a digestive disaster. We choose to roast; grill; or sometimes deep-fry our turkey. We only use organically raised, grass fed young turkeys. Brining our turkey is something we’ve been doing for a few years. It’s a great way to bring on the flavor with just a few ingredients.
Our Turkey Brine Recipe:
- 7 quarts water (28 cups)
- 4 Bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
- 2 Medium onions (sliced thin)
- 1 ½ C. coarse sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. whole black pepper corns
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 4 C. apple cider vinegar
- 6 garlic cloves (peeled and mashed)
- 6 sprigs rosemary
- 2 Medium oranges (quartered)
Make the Brine. One day before roasting turkey, bring 1-quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let the brine cool.
To minimize cleanup, line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Add the remaining 6 quarts water and the other ingredients. Submerge the turkey – if the turkey is not submerged, weight it with a heavy dish. The turkey should soak for 24 hours so plan accordingly.
Remove and Dry.
I don’t know about your house but in ours there were always some form of cranberry mold, sweet potato dish (loaded with sugar), mashed potatoes, and a green bean casserole. We still make variations of these dishes but have made a few substitutions to reduce sugar, processed ingredients, and best of all reduce preparation time.
Our top 5 Thanksgiving meal substitutions:
1) Chicken broth or vegetable broth in the mashed potatoes
2) Sauté green beans, mushrooms, and onions and skip the canned soup casserole.
3) Make our own cranberry compote with fresh cranberries, tart apples, pecans (or walnuts), organic cane sugar, and water.
4) Use butter! Grass-fed, organic butter.
5) No mixes or fake gravy.
There are many substitutions to help clean up your table. Remember the foods on the table are secondary. Our primary foods are our life force. The thoughts we’re thinking on a regular basis and the things we’re doing are the primary foods in our lives. Our bodies become what we eat, drink, think, and do. If we’re not minding the primary foods it doesn’t matter what we put on our forks.
Be thankful, grateful, and blessed!