This was the first year I attempted to make Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. Usually back home, I try to help my mom with the dinner, but she is so organized and has food prep timed to the very last minute, meaning I end up being more of a nuisance than an extra hand in the kitchen.
If you want to enjoy your turkey and not go into a food comatose/ not be able to fit in your pants the next day, here are some suggestions for making your own healthier, and nutrient filled turkey dinner.
1. Portion control, Before we get into the food, one of the biggest issues people in North American struggle with is portion control, did you really need to eat BOTH turkey legs in one dinner setting (yes, you know I’m talking about you….). This is NOT your last meal, instead of feeling completely overstuffed, nauseated, bloated and totally guilt tripping yourself the next day, limit your dinner to normal portion sizes, the leftovers will still be there tomorrow when you’re hungry at lunch
2. A better gravy- my mom taught me this trick where you take all the pan drippings, put them into a heat safe container and store in the freezer while the turkey is finishing cooking/resting before carving. After about 30 minutes, all of the fat will have risen to the top, which you can now easily skim off for an equally delicious, but lighter turkey gravy. If you want to make gluten-free gravy, substitute cornstarch for flour, or use xantham gum. Based on my extremely thick and lumpy gravy results, a little xantham gum (1/2 tsp- 1 tsp) will go a long way. (I used 2 tsp FYI)
3. Chose nutrient rich and colorful sides. Since you have so many flavors going on, a simple green vegetable such as steamed green beans, asparagus or roasted Brussels sprouts makes a nice side. To increase the nutrition and flavor from the usual bland mashed potatoes, I boiled cubes of sweet potato (not peeled to increase fiber) and peeled butternut squash until tender, drained and mashed together in a bowl. They were flavored only with cinnamon, nutmeg and a splash of orange juice, and I didn’t notice any of the missing cream or butter.
4. Dessert can also be a great way to sneak in an extra serving of fruit or veggies. Try making your own pumpkin pie and reduce the sugar in the recipe, or make an apple crisp and cut down on the sugar as well. I made a gluten-free crisp using only a squeeze of honey on the apples, and almond flour and gluten-free oats crumbled together with coconut oil for the topping. I’m sure you could remove the oats and use more almond flour/coconut flour to make this dessert paleo friendly
5. As you know from my previous posts, I think fat get a bad rap, but if you are watching calories, the white meat in the turkey is lower in fat and calories than the dark meat, and removing the skin off the breast will also cut fat and calories.
Yes Thanksgiving is over, but keep these tips in mind and Christmas will be just around the corner. If you are a “turkey virgin” like I was, the Butterball website was valuable tool this weekend. http://www.butterball.ca/index.php/pages/recipes/show_static/top_ten_questions
Got lots of turkey meat leftover? Make sure you save the turkey carcass to make your own homemade turkey soup! Simmer the carcass in water with vegetables (onions, celery, carrots) and herbs (garlic, thyme, dried basil etc.) for a couple hours on your stove for a tasty and healthy stock. This is a great way to make homemade broth without any added salt, preservatives, MSG or yeast/ barley yeast extract (a source of hidden gluten in many soups/broths). I added my leftover turkey along with some chopped tomatoes, spinach, celery, spices and a splash of lime juice for a mexican turkey soup I ate for lunch all this week.