Thanksgiving on the Farm
Ah, Thanksgiving. I’m in the make-smart-compromises camp on how best to handle this food-centered holiday. The guidelines are simple:
- Lean toward paleo, but don’t obsess.
- Enjoy the food, and enjoy the company even more.
- Eat what’s important for your own emotions’ and others, and skip the “treats” that aren’t really special.
Ironman and I are hosting an early Thanksgiving today at In the Night Farm. It’s storming outside — whipping wind and temperature ticking down toward zero, while snowclouds twist overhead — but inside we have music and warm, spiced air. Here’s our menu:
Roast turkey. It’s a conventional Butterball, I’m afraid. That pastured, heirloom bird just wasn’t in the budget this year.
Wild Rice, Sausage, & Fennel Stuffing. Wild rice is a grass seed, which makes it only somewhat better than grain. It isn’t make it a perfect choice, but it beats the heck out of gluten-filled bread stuffing.
Mashed potatoes and gravy. Again, not ideal due to carbohydrate content (regardless of how you feel about white potatoes, a topic of much debate in the paleo community), but certainly not the worst food on the planet. I’ll make them the old-fashioned way, with plenty of butter and cream. We could argue all day about whether this does more harm (dairy, and the fat-carb combo effect on insulin and bodyfat) or good (lowered GI to mute blood-sugar spike) — but how about we just enjoy them instead? The gravy will require some starch for thickening, but at least I’m not afraid of fat anymore! Food is such a pleasure.
Sweet & Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes. I’ll put plenty of these on my plate. They’re perfectly paleo — just cubed sweet potatoes roasted in coconut oil and sprinkled with red pepper flakes. Nobody in their right mind will miss the marshmallows.
Sweet & Sour Green Beans. Not in the Chinese sense of sweet & sour! This is an old, family recipe that I used to consider terribly unhealthful, though delicious, because it contains bacon (including the grease) and a substantial quantity of vegetable oil. By replacing the vegetable oil with a more healthful fat, I’ll update the recipe to nearly paleo — though it will still require a couple tablespoons of sugar.
Whole 9 Cranberry Sauce: Sweetened with apple juice and figs, this sauce looks and smells far more beautiful — and paleo — than the red-sugar-in-a-can variety. I’m excited to share it.
Cranberry Waldorf Salad: “Pink Stuff” wasn’t a staple on my childhood holiday table, but we did always have a salad of canned fruit cocktail swimming in whipped cream. I think this paleo waldorf, which features chilled coconut milk in place of dairy, will be a spectacular upgrade.
Buttermilk Butterhorns: When it comes to gluten, I have the magic touch. That “smooth and elastic dough” is putty in my hands. Indeed, baking is one of the few foodie pleasures I miss since going paleo. I’m taking advantage of this rare opportunity to make a batch of traditional, golden dinner rolls to serve smothered in pastured butter.
For drinks, we’ll serve spiced cider, whiskey, and wine.
And for dessert, my speciality, a citrus-scented cheesecake, plus pies graciously baked by our guests. And whipped cream. And did I mention the whiskey?
After the holiday, it’s back to paleo…right where I want to be.