Who loves the holidays?!
I do! I love Thanksgiving dinner, and family traditions, and all the hard work that my mom and grandma and aunts always put into our meals growing up, and since I finally had my own Thanksgiving dinner where I did all the cooking, I can appreciate it even more! It’s hard work!
The more I learn about food politics, and ingredients, and where our food comes from though, it gets harder and harder to turn a blind eye when I’m doing my grocery shopping for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter etc.! So last year, when I had my own Thanksgiving dinner, I decided I was going to make our traditional family Thanksgiving meal, that is, with ALL the family faves, real foodified! 100% healthful ingredients. Because lets face it, old habits die hard and the heart wants what the heart wants. And when someone brings cubed seasoned squash *in place* of stuffing, or forgets the mashed potatoes, it does not go over well in a crowd. Good thing for us, though, this is no compromise, but an improvement! Get the family favorites, minus the terrible ingredients, and you’ve got yourself one healthy, feel good dinner your family and friends will feel good about during, and after the meal! Sans the typical “after meal” groans of poisonous ingredients taking their effect as they make their way through your body wreaking havoc on your microbiome, hormones, and mental health, while your children are going wild from red# 40 aka Cherry Fluff salad. I know, I know, you’re welcome.
I found many of these recipes on pinterest. Some I followed pretty closely, others, were more like guidelines. You know how sometimes you wait all day for the main meal, snacking on sweets and veggie trays and sneaking tastes in here and there, and when dinner rolls around you feel a bit let down..whether the snacking ruined your appetite, or realizing that a childhood favorite dish isn’t as good as you remember it? I’m here to tell you that these recipes were nothing like that! Every bite I had was so good it quite literally made my mouth water…as I was eating. I know, a bit slobbish sounding, but, it was just so good! And the best news? The recipes are not complicated in the least! As I said, these are my family favorites and from what I’ve seen are pretty typical of the mid western Thanksgiving dinners I’ve been too!
So with out further ado, I present to you my Thanksgiving menu and the recipes I originally found that helped me create a healthy, real food menu. This year I plan on writing down exactly what I do and hopefully exactly what I do, is exactly what I did last year, so I can share my original recipes with you all some day. In the mean time, these are also too legit to quit!
Real Food Thanksgiving Menu Recipe Round-Up!
I feel like no one ever follows a turkey recipe. You brine it in good stuff. You baste it and cook it. My hubs likes to smoke his after brining it for two days. I wouldn’t know how to do all that. And obviously you have to have a smoker. Even if you don’t though, dont skip the brine. It’s uhhhhmazing, and more than worth the trouble of following a recipe for cooking a turkey.
Sourdough stuffing is my absolute favorite! I always wing it when I make mine, but manage to nail it every time. Ain’t no thang! I love that savory, semi tangy, home cooked taste. I’ll write my recipe someday.. maybe even next Thursday! One thing I always use, though, is good, traditionally fermented sourdough bread, homemade chicken broth, and sage and salt and pepper to taste. If you use these things I just feel like you can’t go wrong. That’s the beauty of real food, there’s so much flavor that it’s just a matter of arranging it. With sourdough bread, and homemade broth, this is a healthy, and healing dish that is like one big hug! The recipe listed is pretty close to what I do, except as a Thanksgiving side, I would never add mushrooms to my stuffing. Personal preference.
Green Bean Casserole
This is a pretty big hit in our family. However, growing up we used cream of mushroom soup which is full of MSG, GMOs, and natural flavors, as well as french fried onions out of a can which are full of rancid oils and coated with white flour breading. A recipe of disaster really. Last year I considered going with out this beloved dish, then I thought about it. And I thought; cream of mushroom soup, fried onions? Buy some cream and mushrooms and saute them in butter, fry onions in some arrowroot flour and coconut oil, were good to go. However, after a little digging, I found this recipe that took the guess work out of it all. It is soo good, guys! Don’t buy those nasty cans of cream of mushroom soup. Preferably grass-fed /organic cream, a pile of mushrooms, you will not believe… fresh fried red onion in healthy coconut oil, I repeat, you will not believe your mouth!
Candied Yam/ Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are pretty hard to go wrong with, however for Thanksgiving and taking into consideration the nostalgia I have of golden crusted marshmallows atop our sweet potatoes, I wasn’t going to skimp. If this isn’t your thing there are tons of savory sweet potato dishes that are great as well. If you’re a super sweet potato fan you could even have two different dishes. Savory and sweet! I am content with just one. And though I may choose better many other days, that.is not.this.day! The great news!? I was already a master at homemade marshmallows. Did you hear me right? Yes, homemade, white fluffy marshmallows, made with grassfed gelatin, and local honey. Can you believe it? Theyre so easy to make. It’s mind blowing. Just learn from my mistake, let the marshmallows dry a bit on the counter, they wont dissipate into a fluffy glob all over your sweet potatoes. Still Delicious? Well, duh My other top favorite sweet potato dish includes maple syrup, and pecans. To make the marshmallow sweet potatoes, you can use the maple pecan recipe, and instead of the pecan topping just dot your mallows on top and bake until golden. Also, I mean REAL maple syrup, Aunt Jemima ain’t welcome here no mo.
I sort of feel like most people don’t care for cranberry jelly anymore. I personally love it. And I feel like i’d be a little hurt if cranberry jelly decided not to show up every year. I feel a bit like a broken record, but this too..is.so.easy! Buy a bag of fresh organic cranberries. Dump into a little sauce pan. Pour in some organic sugar/sucanut/rhapadura and water, maybe a zest of orange. and let it cook. Voila, tangy goodness, the perfect addition to smoked turkey and sourdough stuffing. Just saying.
This year I am going to take my cranberry sauce a step further and ferment it. Adding in a nice zang of probiotics with the meal. I found this great recipe. Easy!
Broth, arrowroot, salt and pepper, whisk together. Best gravy ever. In case you like a little more instruction though…
For your nostalgic “white” bread roll, I recommend this recipe:
For a great soaked, whole grain option, I use my bread recipe, and instead of forming loaves in the last step, I form them into rolls and let rise and bake as the recipe indicates! They sop up gravy and encase turkey fantastically!
Almond Roca is a new addition to our Thanksgiving table, and I don’t intend to change that. Easy, fast, and delicious. Pecan pie is probably my favorite pie. And not once have I ever made it with corn syrup. Pumpkin Pie is a classic. And the nuts are great for snacking and also make great gifts!
Well there it is and I hope this list has inspired you to real foodify your thanksgiving table! I admit, our family makes a cherry fluff salad, that I havent taken the time to real foodify. But it’s on my goal list. My kids also love marshmallows. So I want to make a real food marshmallow salad of sorts to add to our menu, tis the season, after all.
What do you have for Thanksgiving Dinner? I’d love to hear favorite dishes and traditions with your family!