By this time most people have their Thanksgiving dining plans finalized. We all grew up with our own traditions and memories. I hope you are surrounded by friends and family and are enjoying happiness and good health. Interestingly, most people in our practice said they would be dining out or going to another home for dinner. I suppose it is in line with less and less people actually cooking at home, and the lack of comfort people have entertaining while serving plant based food. With all of the fad diets, I suppose eating out is viewed as less controversial and easier.
A plant based nutrition lifestyle is actually less restrictive than many of the fad diets that people proclaim are more “natural.” One problem is that the holiday has been renamed as “Turkey Day” instead of Thanksgiving in a lot of circles. So let’s take a look at the traditional Thanksgiving menu and see just how the other ways of eating hold up. No cheating allowed right?
Turkey did not become the center of the table until 1863 when Josepha Hale finally got her petition through to have Thanksgiving as a national holiday signifying a time for gratitude. She even created the original recipes. Substituting a lentil loaf, tempeh, or seitan is an easy plant based alternative. All have meaty textures along with protein, fiber, and multiple vitamins and minerals with very little fat. The sodium concentration is much lower since they are not soaked in a brine, and cooked with more salt and butter. Of course the Paleo diet and Ketogenic diet will be fine with the butter and salt.
Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes are just fine on a plant based diet. Not so much for the Keto or Paleo folks. They will be cheating on this one. We use nut milk and garlic in the mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy. Sweet potatoes can be mashed with nut milk or baked and topped with cranberries to make them extra festive. We love stuffing balls with celery, leeks, vegetable broth and a flaxseed egg along with whole grain sprouted bread. All fine on a plant based diet and again loaded with antioxidants, anticancer substances and fiber.
Cranberry salad with oranges, celery, and walnuts is a great source of antioxidants and anticancer phytonutrients. This is a great vegan dish but a no no on the Paleo or Ketogenic plans.
I suppose the Ketogenic diet would allow 4 or 5 green beans but certainly not with the cream of mushroom soup and friend onions. A great plant strong green bean dish is to add real sliced shiitake mushrooms and garlic to the green beans and serve over Freekah which is a sun-dried whole grain. Those whole grains are frowned upon in the Keto and Paleo worlds.
Pumpkin pie is on our plant strong menu with a granola crust and the filling is made with pumpkin and tofu. Again, a no no on the Ketogenic or Paleo diet.
Unfortunately, the traditional menu preparation has been altered on recipe websites to be heavy in cream, butter, and salt. A Whole Foods cooked turkey contains 1 CUP of salt in a gallon of water to saturate the meat before progressing to the next step of seasoning with more salt, butter, and vegetable broth. It is quite easy to get three times the daily maximum recommended intake of sodium in one Thanksgiving Dinner. This is not an unusual turkey preparation. In fact most are soaked in a salt water brine and then frozen to maximize the weight of the bird. No portion of these toxins are restricted on the Keto or Paleo plans.
By doing a few alterations to your traditional Thanksgiving menu, you can enjoy a colorful, nutrient dense, delicious plant strong meal without the fat, salt and cholesterol. So don’t be afraid to jump in and cook your own Thanksgiving meal. If you are going to another home, bring a few side dishes to share allowing others to taste a truly, healthy Thanksgiving meal.
There is nothing more important than your health and the health of your family. Why jeopardize it at a gathering centered around gratitude. What you consume on one day may have lasting health consequences for years to come.
If you would like help navigating holiday eating while still being healthy, or would like to regain your health, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org