By Connie Sarros
is one holiday that we definitely associate with eating
GOOD eating! In most households, the menu is fairly standard~~
roast turkey, gravy, potatoes, cranberry relish, salad, rolls,
and pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert. Since Thanksgiving
is a time for giving thanks for all the abundance in this
country, and for sharing some of that bounty, we should enjoy
this holiday without a guilty conscience. While the menu may
not change, you can present a meal that is far healthier for
your family just by making a few adjustments to the ingredients,
like hiding vegetables in the stuffing, in the
cranberries, and even in the gravy.
The accolades of adding fiber
to your diet should be taken seriously. It is relatively easy
to add fiber without any of your guests realizing it. Golden
flax meal has virtually no taste and no color when added to
other foods. It is readily available at health food stores
and some regular grocery stores.
Below are suggestions how to
lower the fat and sugar content and increase the fiber count
of your Thanksgiving meal without sacrificing any of the delicious
taste. Presentation will make your foods look as good as they
taste, so garnishing ideas are also included. Enjoy!
outside of the box. Make your favorite filling and serve it
in baby portabella mushroom caps, or a hollowed-out potato
skin, or a Belgium endive boat. Serve dips inside an orange
bell pepper. If you are serving a hot appetizer, consider
baking it in half clamshells.
TURKEY. When purchasing
your turkey, read the labels. Many brands have gluten hidden
in their basting liquids. To cut down on fat and calories,
consider baking turkey breasts instead of the whole turkey.
(White meat has lower cholesterol and fat content.) In many
households, the turkey is sliced in the kitchen and placed
on a serving platter, so no one may even realize that the
whole turkey wasnt cooked. If you opt to cook just the
breast meat, bake it with the skinside down. No, the
skin will not get crisp that way, but the meat will be much
more moist. Instead of using butter, spread a little olive
oil over the meat. Add carrots, onion, celery, parsley and
lemon slices around the turkey while it bakes for added flavor,
and pour GF chicken broth into the pan for your basting liquid.
For garnish, dip thin slices of lemons in finely minced parsley;
cut each slice almost in half, then twist the slices and lay
around edge of dish.
GRAVY. Make your gravy
healthier by placing the vegetables from your roast, along
with the broth, into a blender. Add a little cornstarch and
blend until pureed. Brown sliced mushrooms in a skillet, then
add the pureed broth and stir over medium heat until thickened.
stuffing can be made from porous GF bread. Assemble the dressing
the day before, cover, and refrigerate so the bread has time
to absorb the moisture. Sauté celery, sliced green
onions, sliced mushrooms, parsley and shredded carrot in olive
oil instead of butter. Use GF chicken broth for your liquid
instead of water. And add _ cup golden flax meal to the bread
mixture NO ONE will taste it and they will reap the
benefits of the fiber. Cut several 3-inch pieces of green
onions and slice the green portion lengthwise to a 2-inch
depth. Place green onion pieces in ice water to curl. At serving
time, insert green onion curls (uncut side down) into the
center of the stuffing to create a fountain.
WHIPPED YAMS IN ORANGE SHELLS.
Yams tend to be a little sweeter than sweet potatoes and
they are considerably healthier for you than white whipped
potatoes. Instead of slathering the yams
brown sugar and butter, cut oranges in half and scoop out
the centers. Put the orange pulp and juice plus cinnamon sticks
into a small saucepan and reduce it (reduce to about 3 Tbsp.
for 4 orange halves). Strain this mixture into a mixing bowl.
Add your cooked yams (or drained, canned yams), a little olive
oil (instead of butter) and maple syrup (instead of brown
sugar). Stir in some chopped pecans, then spoon mixture into
the orange halves. If you are ambitious, pipe potatoes into
shells for a spiral effect. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon.
Bake just till heated through. Insert a cinnamon stick into
each half before serving.
CRANBERRY RELISH. If
using fresh cranberries, they will definitely need some sweetening.
You can reduce the amount of sugar used by adding reduced
orange juice and cinnamon. Add lots of chopped nuts, celery
and orange zest for added fiber. Garnish relish with the orange
CALIFORNIA SALAD. Iceberg
lettuce has negligible nutritional value. The darker the green
the more nutrients you will receive. A California Salad makes
an impressive presentation with the variety of color and textures
and it is filled with fiber and nutrition. Mix together dark
mesclin greens, toasted walnuts, sunflower seeds, sliced onions,
sliced strawberries and kiwi. Use a blend of olive oil and
balsamic vinegar for the dressing. For an added treat, blend
the dressing with one Tbsp. of all-fruit strawberry jam before
tossing the salad. Add the finishing touch to the salad by
tucking in a few organically-grown sprigs of snapdragon or
nasturtiums on the side.
BASIL BREAD STICKS.
If you are making GF rolls or bread sticks, add some almond
flour to your flour mixture to reduce the carb count and increase
the fiber. Roll the sticks or rolls in seeds before baking
(sunflower, poppy, sesame, or a combination of all three).
The seeds make the rolls look more inviting plus they add
fiber. If you opt for GF cornbread, fold in finely minced
jalapeno peppers and whole kernel corn for added fiber and
PIE. Add fiber to your crust by folding in toasted, chopped
walnuts or pecans plus 2 Tbsp. golden flax meal. Replace some
of the granulated sugar in the filling with maple syrup (for
_ cup white sugar, use 6 Tbsp. maple syrup). Instead of 1
whole egg, use 2 egg whites. Make a little extra piecrust
and cut out leaves; place the leaves around the outside edge
of your pie. Use a toothpick to draw on the veins of the leaves
before baking. Top the pie with GF nondairy whipped topping
in place of whipping cream and a light sprinkling of cinnamon.
Just a hint ~~ If this is your first attempt at a GF piecrust,
try rolling your crust between two sheets of plastic wrap
(instead of wax paper) that have been sprinkled with confectioners
sugar (instead of flour mixture).
Pecan Pie and Thanksgiving go hand in hand. Unfortunately,
the filling is LOADED with sugars. To replace the sugars alters
the taste of the finished product. In place of the pecan pie,
consider a fresh fruit bowl. Cut up seasonal fruits, then
fold in additional ingredients that will add both color and
fiber, such as chopped dates, dried cranberries, walnuts,
pomegranate seeds, and toasted coconut. Pour apricot nectar
over the fruits and stir to distribute evenly. Garnish with
cinnamon sticks and fresh mint leaves. After a heavy meal,
your guests will appreciate the fruit.
Carrot cake screams autumn dessert! Below is a
recipe for a moist, delicious carrot cake that NO ONE will
know is gluten-free. It may be made the day before, covered,
and refrigerated and it will remain moist for Turkey Day.
It is loaded with fiber and the taste is awesome!
Thanksgiving is embodied in the autumn aroma of cinnamon.
Be generous with the spices you use and remember to garnish.
Prepare as much as possible the day before so you will have
time to enjoy your guests. Dont forget to garnish your
table~~ Fill a hollowed-out pumpkin with fresh auburn or gold
mums for the center of your table and scatter artificial fall
leaves around. Or hollow-out mini pumpkins for each place
setting and fill with marigolds. Another centerpiece idea
is to float cranberries, orange slices and lit tea lights
in a glass bowl. Roll napkins then tie with raffia, perhaps
tucking in a sprig of rosemary. Pinecones make the perfect
place card holder. Collect some lighter-colored fall leaves
from the yard; cut off the stems and write the names of each
person on a leaf, and then carefully insert the leaf into
- 2 cups GF flour mixture*
- 3 tsp. GF baking powder
- 1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. corn oil
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 Tbsp. GF mayonnaise
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 can (8 1/2 oz.) crushed pineapple,
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9 X 13-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, sift together
the flour mixture, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add the sugar, corn oil, eggs, and mayonnaise. Stir well to
combine ingredients. Stir in the carrots, nuts and pineapple
until evenly blended. Spread batter in prepared pan and bake
40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out
clean. (Do not overbake.) Cool, then frost with Cream Cheese
Frosting. Makes 18 servings.
*My GF flour mixture includes
the xanthan gum. If you are using a different mixture, add
3/4 tsp. xantan gum.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1/2 cup butter
- 8 oz. GF cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Whip all ingredients together
until fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add a few drops
Happy Eating and Happy Thanksgiving!
Sarros is the author of four gluten-free cookbooks and a DVD:
- Wheat-free Gluten-free Dessert Cookbook
- Wheat-free Gluten-free Reduced Calorie
- Wheat-free Gluten-free Cookbook for Kids
and Busy Adults
- Wheat-free Gluten-free Recipes for Special
- And a 72-minute DVD, "All You Wanted
To Know About Gluten-free Cooking"
These books are available at
most bookstores or may be purchased on her web site at http://www.gfbooks.homestead.com.
The DVD is also available through her web site.