“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces –
just good food from fresh ingredients.” ~ Julia Child (1912 – 2004)
I love Thanksgiving and most of us love Thanksgiving Dinner. But do you love the way you feel at the end of a meal? Bloating and drowsiness can be familiar feelings at the end of a Thanksgiving dinner. I know that I have felt it in the past. Is this caused by over eating? Perhaps partially, but it is also caused by additives and all the extra things that we unconsciously put in our food. This year, I invite you to try a more conscious version of your Thanksgiving meal or at least try a conscious version of one or two dishes.
My sister and I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner together almost every year for the past 9 years. When people come to our table they rave about the food. Everything really tastes delicious, but I think what they are experiencing is the true taste of the ingredients. Sweet potatoes are an incredible food and they really don’t need much help. Mashed with a small amount of butter, a bit a cinnamon and a splash of milk, they shine.
What amazes our guests as much as the taste of the food is that at the end of the dinner, they don’t feel the way the usually feel after such a big meal, even after they have had seconds and sometimes thirds. Yes, they are full and have enjoyed every bite but they don’t feel groggy or bloated. I wish that I could invite every one of you to join us this year to experience it with us but instead I will give you some ideas that you can use for your own holiday meal.
Here are some tips for a Conscious Thanksgiving Plate; one that will taste delicious and leave you feeling great.
- Start with an Organic Pasture-Raised Turkey (it’s worth the price) or if not possible for you choose one that is antibiotic free. We like to brine our turkey overnight but use a preparation that works for you.
- Think about what you are putting into your side dishes. Consider less butter or cream. I love butter and do use it but I use it to enhance the flavor of the main ingredient not to mask it. Please don’t think that this is about a reduced calorie Thanksgiving or deprivation because it is not; it actually tastes amazing and will leave you feeling nourished and satisfied.
- If you are choosing to use store bought prepared products read the ingredients. Don’t eat something if you don’t know what it is and consider making something fresh if it’s possible. Some things can be made much faster and easier than you think and if it takes a bit longer than you’d usually spend, it is a holiday, consider a bit more effort if you can find the time.
- Substitute Maple Syrup, Honey or Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals for white sugar. While moderation is still a good idea, it offers much more flavor and provides nutrients instead of robbing your body of nutrients.
- Use cooking methods that bring out the flavor of your vegetables like roasting. This will extract the natural sweetness of the ingredients and you won’t miss the butter, cheese or cream sauce. You may actually find that you prefer it or at least enjoy it as much.
- Make a decision to do at least one thing differently this year, maybe give the smashed sweet potatoes recipe a try in this issue and tell me if you liked it.
- Notice how you feel about having a healthier option on the table. Do you feel like you were compromising taste? How did your guests respond to the dish?
- Make a plan to enjoy the Holidays without feeling badly about what you eat.
If you need any support or suggestions about how to enjoy the holiday season without deprivation and without a negative impact on your health and appearance, I’m here for you. Feel free to email me at Randy@TheConsciousPlate.com
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
I never liked brussel sprouts until I learned to cook them properly. Here is a preparation that makes them so good that it’s hard for them to last until the meal. They taste delicious hot or room temperature.
- Brussel Sprouts (as many as you think each person would want X the number of people)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea Salt, to taste
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste (optional)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Clean the Brussel sprouts by cutting the bottom and removing any damaged looking outer leaves. On a baking sheet, toss the brussel sprouts with a thin coating of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them in the oven and allow them to brown on the bottom (this gets them sweet and delicious). Give the pan a quick shake to loosen them and continue to cook for a few more minutes until they are tender when pierced with a knife.
Smashed Sweet Potatoes
The natural sweetness of the vegetable intensifies in this cooking process. While they are delicious and ready to eat straight from the oven, skin and all, removing them from their skin, mashing them, adding a few ingredients to enhance their flavor and serving them in a shallow bowl so the bright color shines through, make a festive addition to your holiday table.
Serves 4 people
- Three medium to large sweet potatoes, often called yams or 4 small ones
- 1-2 pats of organic butter (the size of the small squares in a restaurant)
- 2 Tablespoons whole organic milk
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon or ground ginger (optional)
- A pinch of sea salt (1/8 teaspoon or less)
*Preheat oven to 450.
Scrub sweet potatoes under water, pat them dry and poke a few holes in the top with a fork.
Place them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. Bake until they are soft (stick a fork in it and it will feel mushy, the skin will start to loosen and you may also see the sweetness oozing out from the holes in the top) When they are cool enough to touch, remove the skin and place the orange part in a bowl.
Add the butter.
If you have a potato masher, use it, if not use a fork to start breaking up the sweet potatoes. If you like it chunkier, don’t mash too long but if you like it creamier, keep mashing. Once the butter has melted, add the milk to help with the mashing.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine everything.