We are a pretty typical family when it comes to holiday food. For the most part, we like to celebrate holidays with (healthified) traditional foods. You know, turkey on Thanksgiving, ham on Easter, backyard barbecues for the 4th of July. My paternal grandmother, who immigrated from Mexico, even made a traditional Thanksgiving and Easter meal (she saved the tamale making for Christmas).
While every family has their Thanksgiving holiday favorites, our favorites are the standard, roasted turkey, dressing, mashed (faux) potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberries and dinner rolls. And for dessert, pumpkin pie. This makes my job relatively easy, as from year to year I just look back at the previous years' healthy recipes and get to work in the kitchen.
While our menu may be traditional, everything is made fresh from scratch using healthy ingredients. A new twist to this year's menu was the exclusion of dairy. Last year I used heavy cream and butter with reckless abandon, this year I had to be more careful, as I am allergic to bovine-derived casein and whey and we suspect my mother-in-law is as well. Easy enough, ghee, almond milk and coconut milk came to the rescue. The result was a healthy holiday meal that clocked in around 15 g NET CARBS (20 g if you include a slice of pumpkin pie) that was also gluten-, sugar- and dairy-free.
Once again I roasted it in our 22-qt Oster Roaster. This is a no fuss, no muss method to roast a turkey. It self-bastes (as long as you don't peak) and turns out amazing every year.
Here's how you do it: after rinsing the bird, place in roaster, brush with ghee, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stick in probe thermometer and cover. Turn roaster to 450 degrees F and set timer for 30 minutes. After time elapses reduce heat to 325 degrees F and roast until internal thigh temp of 165 degrees F, measured by the probe thermometer.
This year our 20 lb. bird took 3 hours came out perfectly roasted.
“Corn Bread” Muffins
When I originally came up with the recipe, I added cranberries and then when I got to prepping for the big day, I decided to make a batch with wild blueberries as well as a batch without. These were oh so yummy slathered with ghee and there wasn't one left in the bread basket. At 1.5 net carbs these were a welcome addition to our dinner.
I made these the day before Thanksgiving and stored them in a sealed container on the kitchen counter.
Green Bean Casserole
I used organic canned french cut green beans and made my own cream of mushroom soup, a recipe compliments of The Rogue Cookie. I skipped the coconut flour and instead used a little xanthan gum to thicken and completely skipped the “cook for 6-8 hours” part. I just threw half of the recipe in my Vitamix to purée and then added in the other half and was good to go.
The recipe makes about 8 cups of soup, 4 cups to throw in the slow cooker with 4 cans of beans and 4 cups to enjoy later.
I made the soup the day before and then on Thanksgiving morning, threw the green beans and soup in the slow cooker and turned it on high with the lid tilted to vent. Transferred to a casserole dish before serving and topped with 8 strips of chopped bacon.
Sausage and Apple Dressing
The day before Thanksgiving I made 4 mini-loaves of fresh almond/flax bread (my original recipe calls for hazelnut flour but decided to go with almond flour instead) and oven-dried into bread cubes. I also cut up the celery and onion and had it ready to go.
On Thanksgiving morning, I cooked up the sausage along with the veggies, assembled and tossed in the oven. Once baked, I turned the oven to 170 degrees F to keep warm until served. I quadrupled the recipe and ended up with two nice size pans of dressing. There was probably a good half of a pan leftover.
Basic sauce is 1 c. water, 12 oz. cranberries and 1 c. equivalent sweetener of choice. My favorite is a combination of natural low-carb sweeteners erythritol (powdered) and stevia. You can add in cloves, cinnamon, ginger or my favorite 1 tsp. orange extract. Bring to boil, mash with slotted spoon, cook until thick. Cool and refrigerate. You can find a printable recipe here. I made the cranberries a few days before Thanksgiving and stored covered in the refrigerator.
Caulitatoes & Gravy
I typically use a 4:1 ratio of cauliflower to starch. This year I used Yukon Gold potatoes. The day before I steamed up 4 pounds of cauliflower and 1 pound of potatoes, puréed in my VitaMix about half the cauliflower and then mashed the rest with a potato masher to give it some texture. I also left the skin on the potatoes.
Put it all in the slow cooker, added ghee, salt and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, tasted and then once cooled stored in the refrigerator. On Thanksgiving morning, I just placed the bowl in the slow cooker and turned on low.
For the gravy, it is really simple, just whisk together the pan drippings with a low-carb thickener like xanthan gum and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
I did not bake in individual dessert dishes, but in a glass pie plate. For the crust I used 1 1/2 c. blanched almond flour, 1/4 c. coconut oil, a pinch of salt and a large egg. I cut the coconut oil into the almond flour with a pastry cutter and then mixed in the egg. Using my hands I formed into crust, pricked with a fork and pre-baked for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. I filled with the pie filling and baked per the recipe instructions.
I made the pie the day before Thanksgiving and stored in the refrigerator overnight, then in the morning set it on the counter to come to room temperature. It was served topped with coconut whipped cream and not a crumb was left.
So there you have it, our complete Thanksgiving holiday meal. How was your holiday? Did you make healthy choices? Did you do any recipe makeovers? I'd love to hear all about it!