Thanksgiving Mostly Clean Eating

Brian and I have been hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house for a few years now. We have the most space so it just seemed to make sense for us to take everyone in here (plus, we have the most kids and I’m not trying to cart them around on Christmas!). Over the years we have kind of gotten it figured out, as much as you really can. I do a lot of cooking and prep leading up to the day so that I’m not spending all day cooking and missing out on family time. Having half the dishes already made before Thanksgiving is ultra helpful. Also, our meals have gotten a little more complex since we have been on our limited grains and sugar journey. Gone are the days of boxed anything and cans of gravy.

You know how everyone seems to have their quintessential Thanksgiving dishes? Well, we try to accommodate those as much as we can but also add in healthy options for us. For example, Brian is a huge mashed potato fan and we rarely have them so on Thanksgiving and Christmas I make a lot of them. Everyone else seems to enjoy them as well so that dish doesn’t get modified. In case you are wondering the best way to make the mashed potatoes is in the slow cooker.

On the other hand, I do make multiple stuffing versions. One fairly regular version (except that I make my own bread crumbs because that boxed stuff is no bueno!). The second is one for my family and is never quite the same. In the past I’ve made an almond flour bread stuffing, this year I created one with sweet potato, onions, celery, and a granola that I flavored to be like stuffing. The stuffings are made in advance so we’ve taste tested them. After three years of being mostly grain-free I didn’t even like the regular stuffing (where is all the flavor?! Why do I only taste bread?!). I used to be a die-hard stuffing fan. Eat all the stuffing! And the girls said they didn’t care for the regular stuffing much either, except for the veggies in it. =)

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There is always a big salad filled with vegetables. We are also having roasted vegetables. It depends on what I have on hand but this year we are having roasted green beans and chard (so many green beans, yay!). No dinner rolls. It always seems that people get the dinner roll and can’t ever finish it, so I’ve decided I’m not wasting my efforts. I make my own gravy and am still perfecting the recipe. I follow one from Rachael Ray and sometimes it works better than others (I have real gravy issues!).

I married into a family that has both turkey and ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas so we stick with that. It’s a lot of meat and makes me sick to think about it but I fear there would be a revolt if both them weren’t present. To top the meat I’ve become a fan of cranberry sauce. I never ate cranberry sauce when I was younger but once I started making my own (recipe here) I converted to a cranberry sauce lover.

Those are the key dinner items. Occasionally, someone will bring something like macaroni and cheese or green bean casserole. We welcome people to bring whatever they may want and I TRY to limit how much the kiddos get of these other items.

Dessert has always been my favorite part and we don’t skimp here. There are multiple pies and other desserts for the after dinner spread. This year I kept it fairly simple. I made THE Ultimate Holiday Pie, grain-free and refined sugar-free! Using this grain-free honey graham cracker crust, subbing honey for the sugar in the cheesecake layer, this pumpkin pie, and the pecan pie topping from here. The healthy version came out beautifully and I’m hoping for no complaints about the lack of sugar. I just wanted to be able to eat this lovely creation and not feel sick. In addition to pie we are having fruit salad (chopped up fruits stirred in with homemade honey sweetened  whipped cream), and these cake batter truffles (also grain and refined sugar free).

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Before dinner we snack on vegetables and hummus and this year I made spiced bar nuts. The nuts were a huge hit last year and when I made them earlier this week we were loving the preview.

While I don’t necessarily love making the multiple versions of foods I am excited that this year I have converted all the dessert to be edible for my family. And that despite the mashed potatoes and the regular stuffing the rest of the food fits right into our eating style. I dream of the day when I can say that about all the food on the table. Small steps for now. We have come a long way from Thanksgivings past.

Fall Grilling

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the changing season, I enjoyed my evening grilling experience. It just felt different now that it’s Fall. The sun was shining but not in a hot summery way. There was a slight breeze but it was calm. And my girls were in and out taking their art time outside. Early Fall grilling is refreshing.

Isabelle lost another tooth this week (that makes 7!). Her missing tooth has led to a lot of conversations about eating corn on the cob and the difficulties involved with that. Cob corn, as Lexi calls it, is a favorite which is why they were talking about it. Little did they know I had bought some corn on the cob to grill this weekend. So we had the opportunity to see how Isabelle managed (read: corn all over her face).

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In addition to corn on the cob, I grilled green beans (I’m obsessed!) and veggie burgers. We had our burgers on lettuce with some Korean cucumbers (they are fermented instead of pickled) and tomatoes.

For dessert I grilled some sweet potatoes and then mashed them up to make this sweet potato and apple nut crumble. A great Fall dessert!

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The dish boasts sweet potato, apples, walnuts, and plenty of cinnamon.

Today has changed my mind about the new season. Maybe Fall won’t be so bad.

We Love Rachael Ray

The girls and I love the Rachael Ray Show. When we are at home in the mornings Isabelle watches the clock for 9 AM when the show comes on. During the school year she is so excited on the days she gets to stay home and can watch Rachael Ray. While there are a lot of segments in the show other than cooking, we watch for the cooking creations. Isabelle gets frustrated when she has a lot of guests and doesn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen. The girls get pretty excited about what she is making and love to tell me about it and how good it looks. It also leads to them making menu requests of things she cooks. That was the case on Friday when we watched her make Vegetable Nachos. Lexi wanted it for dinner that very night. We comprised and I made a few nights later and without chips.

Our nachos were loosely based off her nachos. We used raw broccoli (they have a great chip like crunch), kale and cooked sweet potato as the “chips”. We followed the recipe for the thinned out refried beans made our own mixed vegetable toppings. And because it is nachos, we did top with cheese.

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Nachos, even without chips, were a huge hit. And the nice thing about this recipe is that you aren’t just filling up on chips and cheese it is loaded with vegetables and beans. Yum!

During a previous week we watched her make this pasta recipe which really spoke to me. Noodles with roasted cauliflower and a chickpea sauce sounds perfect (well except for the wheat noodles)! We modified by using raw zucchini instead of noodles and adding peas because, well why not?! The sauce in this is literally made of chickpeas pureed with broth, yum! This dinner was fast, plant-based, filling, and satisfying.

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We had gone to a birthday party so the girls were pretty full from party food (i.e. hot dogs and birthday cake). This dinner was a quick way to pack some vegetables in their tummies and was easy for me to make. The cauliflower had been roasted earlier in the week so basically I just had to make the sauce. Which was pretty much me defrosting the frozen chickpeas and mixing it all up. No biggie. Quick healthy food!

Thanks Rachael Ray for fast, satisfying, and healthy dinner ideas!