Countdown to Turkey Time

Thanksgiving in our family is a very big deal. We love to cook and Thanksgiving celebrates these traditions, so this year I am sharing our menu with you. We start planning about a month in advance, debating which family favorites we’ll make and which new recipes to. We start cooking the day before and don’t stop until there’s a beautiful spread to enjoy on Thanksgiving Day. Sometimes it’s hard to rein in all of our favorites, for example there are years that we’ve had three different kinds of stuffing!

Thanksgiving is a day when it is both not about the food and all about the food. I love Thanksgiving because it brings back memories of cooking with my Grandma, and now that my kids are cooking with their Grandma, it’s a wonderful feeling. I also love Thanksgiving because the foods served are surprisingly good for you! Everyone thinks of Thanksgiving as being terribly overly indulgent, and I suppose it could be, but I prefer to focus on all of the unprocessed, nutrient-dense, colorful and full-of-antioxidants foods that could be included in your Thanksgiving menu. To fully enjoy the coming week, focus on family and friends, enjoy the beautiful day and be grateful for the life and body you have.

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For a little Thanksgiving inspiration, I thought it’d be fun to share our Thanksgiving menu. Here’s what we will be having:

Before the Meal

  • Cactus Punch: This will be a on-the-fly drink created with cactus juice that my Dad is pressing from cactus fruit. We envision cactus juice, fresh orange juice, cinnamon sticks, cranberries….
  • Stuffed Mushrooms: This is one of my sister’s favorites; we will use baby bella mushrooms and adapt the recipe to be gluten-free.
  • Hot Cheesy Brussel Sprout Dip: This is a new one this year; Brussel sprouts are one of your Thanksgiving powerhouse veggies and we will serve this with veggies to dip.

Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Autumn Arugula Salad: I have been dying to make this recipe since I saw it about a month ago. We will modify it for Thanksgiving by skipping the roasted squash and avocado to make it a less hearty salad. We will use fresh picked arugula, baby kale and other bitter greens from my parent’s amazing garden.
  • Turkey: My Dad’s famous smoked-on-the-grill turkey is the best anyone has ever had!
  • Gravy: Yes, we have gravy from the turkey drippings. My Mom has mastered the art of gluten-free gravy using corn or potato starch.
  • Squash Soup: Another of my Mom’s masterpieces. The soup is time and again requested for Thanksgiving dinner. The recipe is in the e-Cookbook Fall Family Favorites.
  • Cranberry Sauce: This is a condiment that we often have three versions of. I highly recommend trying a no added sugar versions such as Pear Cranberry Sauce or Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce.
  • Bread and Rice Stuffing: My responsibility for bread stuffing is to dry out cubes of Canyon Bakehouse bread this weekend. My personal favorite is our family’s Rice Stuffing, made with whole grain rice, crunchy celery, herbs and local pecans.
  • Mashed Potatoes: We will do traditional butter and milk mashed potatoes this year. Katie presented a wonderful twist on the traditional at her Rethinking Thanksgiving presentation last week, Chickpea-Cauliflower-Potato with Garlic and Leeks Mash with Miso Mushroom Gravy was an inventive new way of doing mashed potatoes.
  • Mexican Corn Casserole: This is Aunt Linda’s recipe available in the e-Cookbook Fall Family Favorites. It’s a colorful casserole with corn and bell peppers. It calls for cheese, but since we’ve been making it dairy free for my older daughter, I realize it really doesn’t need the cheese.
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows: We hadn’t made this casserole in years, since my sister and I were kids. Then last year a friend brought it and my kids LOVED it. They thought the marshmallows were so fun! It was also last Thanksgiving that we without a doubt realized that food dye was giving our older daughter rashes and other symptoms. Did you know marshmallows contain blue food dye? Well, they do, and after sweet potato casserole and a good round of roasting marshmallows in the chiminea, it was clear her body did not like food dye. So–this year, we will go back to our family recipe, which is sweetened with canned pineapple not sugar, and we will top it with no food dye marshmallows!
  • Brussel Sprout Hash: This is a recipe I created a few years ago and since then I’ve converted many people into Brussel sprout lovers! Find the recipe in the e-Cookbook Fall Family Favorites.
  • Roasted Green Beans & Carrots with Myer Lemon Slices: A few years ago a new recipe we tried was Roasted Green Beans with Lemon and Parmesan. It was unbelievable good and so it became a “keeper”. This year we are trying it with green beans and carrots because that will just be beautiful. We skip the cheese and will use Myer lemons a dear client gifted to me from her tree.

Dessert

  • Pumpkin Pie: Our family recipe already emphasizes spices and with coconut cream and honey drizzled on top, there’s lots of room to cut way back on sugar in the pie. You can find our gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar recipe in the e-Cookbook Fall Family Favorites. You can see my girls whipping up some pumpkin pie last year in the picture above.
  • Apple Crumble: This is another one that is easy to do without added sugar. We’ve modified my Grandma’s recipe to reduce sugar, by adding spices, nourishing nuts and coconut flakes. Topped with coconut cream or regular cream, this is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert. I also love Pecan Pie. The recipes are also in the e-Cookbook Fall Family Favorites.
  • Cheesecake: Not a traditional Thanksgiving option, but a new addition to our menu. We can do this dairy free and gluten-free. The gluten-free part is easy. The dairy-free part is a bit more challenging but since my Mom is amazing at figuring out how to please us all, even with our dietary preferences and needs, she’s figured out how to make a decadent dairy-free cheesecake. That’s right. She’s like a magician!

Happy Thanksgiving. Savor every bite!

~Hana

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