Two years ago I posted about Thanksgiving, offering recipes tweaked to get rid of wheat and dairy and to make them healthier. I also provided a time line. Since I spent a lot of years with shaky health I learned how to spread preparation of a big feast like this over days, preserving my energy and just generally making it easier. I reblogged it the next year but both times I posted I failed to do it early enough for you to be able to really make use of it. So this year I wanted to put it up while you have plenty of time.
The first piece is to do your planning 10-14 days ahead. I usually have to pick things up from at least three different stores so if I have a plan far enough ahead then I can spread out the trips to the groceries.
When it comes to spreading out the food prep part of the key is creating a plan that includes recipes that can be made in advance. Many desserts, for instance, can be frozen so I often make dessert first, as much as five or six days ahead, and freeze right away. If you want bread, that’s another item that can be made ahead and frozen. Cranberry sauce stays fresh longer than lots of other stuff so if you make your own, it can be one of the earlier items. You’ve got the idea…
The old post:
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.
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 (that way the icing is frozen and won’t come off – 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! You could also try agave or honey if you know how to substitute a liquid for a dry ingredient.
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 as a very small child going with my grandmother and parents when we visited her here and it was a historic place then.
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 (sometimes I make it a couple of days ahead) rubbed under skin and on outside is lifted from a Rachael Ray recipe.. The pan gravy I lift from this Tyler Florence recipe, substituting spelt for wheat.
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 have a beautiful and relaxing Thanksgiving!