Each year it seems like Thanksgiving is here before you know it! For many reasons, it’s one of my favorite holidays. I love the history behind it; the English settlers wanted to acknowledge the critical help the Indians had provided to them during their first year in the New World soil and they came together to feast and celebrate in friendship and love.
Several hundred years later, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the season of what I call “the six weeks of holiday chaos”. Holiday parties, children home on vacation, lots of shopping, cooking and getting together with family and friends. It’s so very easy to become overwhelmed and loose your self. So here are a few ideas of how to have a healthy and enjoyable Thanksgiving.
For Thanksgiving, it all starts with the turkey. Ideally, you want to get an organic turkey that hasn’t been fed chemicals to fatten it up and has been raised in somewhat humane conditions. If that’s just not possible for you, I suggest rinsing the turkey in the following way:
- Take the pan that you will be cooking the turkey in and fill it with cool water.
- Put 1 tbsp. of salt into a measuring cup and add 1 cup of boiling water to dissolve the salt.
- Let the salt water cool and add it to the water in the pan, mixing thoroughly
- Rinse your turkey in the sink and then place in the pan with the salted water. Turn the turkey over so that all the parts of it are rinsed in the salted water.
- After 5 minutes, remove the turkey from the pan, rinse again in sink with cold water.
- Discard salted water and clean your pan.
It’s important to note that similar to chicken, raw turkey also carries Salmonella, as well as Campylobacter jejuni as well as Clostridium perfringes. It’s easy to prevent contamination if you follow these steps:
- Wash hands with soap before handling raw poultry, after handling raw poultry and before touching anything else.
- Prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen with the following basic kitchen hygiene practices:
a. Use separate cutting boards for poultry and
b. Carefully clean all cutting boards, counter tops and utensils with soap and hot water after preparing raw poultry
And of course, you want to cook your turkey directly in a pan and not in one of those plastic bags that are sold in supermarkets, as they are filled with chemicals, which are known to be endocrine disruptors.
FRESH IS BEST
I’m well known for this philosophy towards healthy eating. I grew up eating cranberry sauce that not only came out of a can but also looked like the can! It’s not necessary to use canned cranberry sauce for two reasons. First, the linings of the cans are known to contain the chemical BPA, which is also an estrogen disruptor. And second, it takes 5 minutes to make your own, see my recipe below, which not only tastes delicious but also is also very healthy for you.
Both of these recipes are easy and also can be made several days ahead!
GRATITUDE AND COMMUNITY
It’s easy with all the chaos of family gatherings to loose sight of the true reason for this holiday celebration and that is the focus and acknowledgement of all we have in our lives, from an inner perspective and not based on material consumption. Some things to consider are: Do the people in your community know how important they are to you? Do your family members know how much you appreciate them? Can you extend yourself, even for a few hours, to help someone in your community who might be in need? An elderly person living alone? Someone you know who has gone through a recent stressful time?
This year, in addition to my family, I will be celebrating with my dear friends from Ashland, Oregon and their 2 dogs! I will be grateful for the almost 30 years of friendship we have shared, all the organic food we will be cooking together, and the wonderful chaos of life! Blessings to everyone on this Thanksgiving holiday!
5-MINUTE CRANBERRY SAUCE
- Wash organic cranberries and pick out any ones that are spoiled.
- Place into pot and cover with freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Grate some fresh ginger and some orange rind into the pot.
- Simmer on low heat until cranberries have popped and some of the liquid has evaporated.
- Cool and refrigerate until the holiday meal.
This recipe is also good to use with a Kabocha squash or what is known as a Sweet pie pumpkin.
- Cut the pumpkin into chunks, leave seeds in, and place over a steamer for a few minutes, until the pumpkin flesh is slightly cooked.
- Place on a tray to cool and when able, remove seeds, and stringy parts. Remove the flesh from the skin and place in a food processor.
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup organic heavy cream
- SPICES: freshly grated nutmeg, 1 tsp. cinnamon, pinch salt
- ½ cup honey or brown sugar (you don’t need a lot of sweetener)
- Pulse until all is incorporated. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Take a large rectangular pan, add water half way up and place in preheated 350 oven.
- Smear butter along the inside of a round soufflé bowl; add custard and place in the water bath.
- Cook for approximately 50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from water bath immediately, let cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days prior to the holiday meal.
AVOID the stress of doing everything yourself. Ask people who are coming to bring something and if need be, you can be specific and actually give them the recipe you’d like them to make.