Funny/sad thing – that’s not a picture from my actual Thanksgiving Day dinner. Nope. All of my beautiful photos of my full table – fancy place settings and all – were accidentally deleted instead of sent to me. I didn’t have my phone on me when dinner was ready and rather than run around the house looking for it (and let all that hard work get cold), I asked Lydia to take the photos of our table. We even had a really awesome one of Belén photo bombing the shot. Only after we were done eating and the dishes were being washed was it discovered that the photos were gone. The above photo is actually of our Thanksgiving leftovers the next night. But I had to include our table centerpiece created by our three-year old (Belén).
When I first started seriously thinking about switching over to the GAPS diet I wanted to wait until January 1, 2014. It seemed logical to me – everyone is starting some type of diet or exercise program, and we would be able to enjoy the holidays without the stress of missing out on favorite dishes and treats. But luckily Lydia convinced me not to wait any longer. My headaches were out of control, so why extend that discomfort for what boils down to two days of feasting? I’m so glad we started when we did. I’m already lowering my daily dose of medication and I haven’t had a headache so far. I know it’s early (today marks 27 days on the diet), but I’m encouraged just the same.
As for missing treats this past Thanksgiving holiday? Nothing could be further from the truth! Bad weather derailed our plans of being with my mom at her house this year – so last minute I was scrambling to get a turkey and come up with a menu. This would be my first Thanksgiving solo, without the support of my mom. She and I pretty much spend every Thanksgiving together and tag-team the meal. As much as I’ve seen my mom prepare and cook a turkey, I had never actually done one myself. Apparently I pay attention pretty well because my turkey came out perfect (I did start my day with a frantic call to mom making sure I knew what I was doing)! My stuffing was deemed Lydia’s now all-time favorite. Her sister joined us for the holiday and couldn’t get enough of the gravy (I literally made this one up). It was wonderful! I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome and my only wish is that my mom could’ve been there to
see taste it.
Here’s our full menu:
A Thanksgiving survivor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Turkey: I purchased an organic, pasture raised turkey – 11.5 pounds (not the one pictured here – I believe he was pardoned). I used a dry rub of paprika, fresh thyme, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper all over the bird. Then I draped a cheese cloth that I had soaked in a butter & white wine sauce over the turkey (covering the breast and part of the drumsticks). Every 30 minutes I would baste the bird (still containing the cheese cloth) with the butter/wine sauce. Once the bird was done cooking, I used some extra butter/wine sauce to assist me in slowly pealing off the cheese cloth so the skin wouldn’t tear. This turkey was crazy moist and the flavor was amazing!!
Gravy: I will never make gravy any other way again. I took a chance and completely made this up as a guess. Earlier on the GAPS Intro Diet I made this carrot and cauliflower mash that tasted pretty good on meat. Since I can’t use anything like flour or cornstarch (both illegal foods when on GAPS) I needed a way to thicken the gravy. After I pulled the bird out of the oven and collected all the pan drippings, I threw in a hand-full of frozen cauliflower and two chopped up carrots and boiled them until the veggies were soft. Then I pulled out my immersion blender and ran it until the gravy was smooth. This was the most flavorful gravy I’ve ever tasted. My sister-in-law could not stop raving about this! And what a great way to sneak in a few extra veggies for my suddenly picky preschooler. I’m telling you – even if you’re NOT on GAPS, try it. You won’t be sorry.
Stuffing: I was really worried about this one. I can’t eat bread (flour). How was I going to make something that tasted like real stuffing? This is where I lucked out with an internet search and ended upon Sharon’s Paleo Fondu blog and her Thanksgiving Sausage and Gibl’et Herb Stuffing. I cannot rave enough about this stuffing. It was made from her recipe for Paleo ‘Cornbread’ muffins. The ingredients include coconut flour, tapioca flour, salt, *baking powder, baking soda, grassfed butter, raw honey, eggs, kefir, fresh thyme, sage and parsley. The muffins were amazing before I turned them into stuffing. I have this page book marked because I could see them pairing perfectly with a big bowl of soup. My only regret is I wish I had doubled the muffin recipe because it really didn’t make as much stuffing as I would’ve liked. Lydia has asked me to make the stuffing again for her birthday (next week). I’m not sure we’ll be doing it that soon, but it just shows how much this was loved. In addition to the muffins, Sharon’s stuffing included the neck and giblets/liver from the turkey, onion, garlic, pork sausage, celery (I’m not a fan and left this out), more fresh sage and thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Rather than cook this separate in a dish, I opted for stuffing the bird. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing this one again for our Christmas Eve dinner.
Honey Glazed Carrots: I peeled and sliced (about 1 inch thick) six or seven carrots. I sauteed them in olive oil for about seven minutes (until they start to turn goldish-brown). They I added in some stock left from cooking the turkey neck and giblets/liver/heart (about 1/2 a cup), 1/4 cup of raw honey, and 1 TBS of apple cider vinegar. I let this boil for about 15 minutes until the liquid had cooked down and took on a sauce-like consistency. These were great, but on the sweet side – next time I would reduce the amount of honey.
Cranberries popping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cranberry Sauce: I just happened to receive a box of organic cranberries in my weekly produce delivery, so thought, OF COURSE! Cranberry sauce! This was pretty simple. I had about two cups worth of cranberries, so I boiled them in 1 cup of water, almost 1 cup of honey and added some zest from an orange. Easy. Simple. Done.
Pumpkin/Coconut Soup: this was actually a quick dinner I threw together on Wednesday night in between prepping several of my dishes for Thanksgiving. But it turned out so well, that I decided to add it as an appetizer of sorts. I found the recipe over on Caitlin’s Grass Fed Girl blog for Easy Savory Pumpkin Soup. As luck would have it I had all the ingredients ready to use which included: 2 cups pureed pumpkin, 1 cup coconut milk (full fat), 4 cups homemade broth, 2 tsp fresh Thyme, 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Throw everything in the pot and simmer and serve. It took me about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table and it was great! To make it a little more hearty, I added in some ground turkey meat that I browned with some more fresh Thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Desserts are what’s left, but it’s getting late and this is already long enough. I’ll be back with the three treats tomorrow!
*Note: Baking Powder is not a GAPS legal food, but in my desperation for a good stuffing I decided to risk a headache.