Thanksgiving is a time of food, family and of course, giving thanks. And what a better way to give thanks than to make a meal with the abundance of healthy food we are so lucky to have access to. It is actually surprising how delicious a healthy, wholesome thanksgiving can be. One of the most simple ways to improve the health of your thanksgiving meal is to improve the quality of the food you are cooking with. Always choose organic to reduce your body's toxic load, choose whole foods rather than refined, processed packaged foods, and choose fresh produce rather than frozen, packaged or canned.
For your superstar bird choose a high quality turkey that comes from a farm where the animals are raised in pasture. This is the highlight of any thanksgiving meal, especially a wholesome one and your extra dollars spent will be well worth it. Conventional turkeys are raised in filthy, overcrowded, dark coops and fed an unnatural GMO diet, laden with pesticides and even anti-biotics because of the prevalence of disease. Spare your family the negative health affects that come along with eating animals raised in this way and buy a high quality turkey this year.
Farms I like:
For your stuffing choose a whole grain variety in place of the traditional refined, white bread packaged variety that often contains sugar and rancid oils. Frankly, thanksgiving would not be thanksgiving if it didn't have stuffing so find a wild rice stuffing or use my favorite: Mark Bitman's Autumn Millet Bake. The millet adds a nutty flavor, the butternut is sweet and the cranberries tart, so it's the perfect blend of flavors.
For your side dishes, choose fresh organic produce and use the most traditional oils for cooking and baking. Choose ghee or coconut oil for high heats, and butter for lower heats. Always use grass-fed dairy to ensure you're getting the heart health omega 3 fatty acids and cancer protective CLA compounds. I like Straus Family Creamery for milk, Organic Valley Pastured butter and Kerygold butter. Make a simple vegetable dish like roasted shallots with steamed green beans, kale sauteed in ghee and garlic, or baked sweet potatoes.
Always serve a salad and use organic extra virgin olive oil to make your own healthy dressing, I love this Maple Vinaigrette for fall salads. Make your own gravy and use gluten free flours, like oat flour. Buy free-range, organic turkey or chicken broth, I like Imagine Foods. Always use sea salt with grey coloring so you know it contains minerals and plenty of organic dried spices for their antioxidant value! For your pie try this Whole Wheat Pie Crust and even try substituting oat flour for a gluten-free version. For your cranberry sauce try other sweeteners like raw honey and freshly squeezed orange juice in place of white refined sugar. Have some fun and let your kids whip the organic cream into fresh whipped cream! There are so many lost traditions because of the convenience of processed foods but making a truly home-made thanksgiving meal is worth it on every level.
It's not as difficult as you might think to improve your thanksgiving meal but it does take a little inspiration and effort to plan. Use this post as a starting point and use your friends as a resource for healthy recipe ideas. Make this thanksgiving different by really changing the quality of the food you purchase for your meal. It's important to feel good about what you are bringing to the table and feeding your family.