If you have the blues this year, maybe you should look no further than your plate’s palate. We pitched the virtues of colorful foods for Thanksgiving one year ago. But breaking the beige takes practice; so we thought let’s bring it back one more time.
I like to gravy it up as much as the next person, but over the years, our Thanksgiving spreads – stuffings and biscuits and marshmallowed casseroles awash in gravy on a plate of shame -have begun to look more like desert landscapes and less like real food. My mom used to affectionately refer to it as ‘beige gravy’ as though the color of sad was a selling point. It’s not that beige ever stopped us from eating and eating.
Thanksgiving, much like my first pregnancy, has becomeanother reason to eat as much as we want. This was not the plan of our forefathers. They were hungry, cold, and dying of illnesses when they established Thanksgiving as a time to exchange their sparse foods with Native Americans. These foods offered the only measure of vitamins and minerals that were available in the season, and fats gave them girth to survive the frigid New England winter. I think it’s time to admit that we’re not pilgrims anymore and can stop eating like we might not get another meal.
We live in insulated homes where an extra layer of fat only protects us from comfortable fitting pants. Modern refrigeration keeps produce of all color available year round so we don’t need to bulk up on breads and potatoes. Fresh herbs and exotic spices, available even at drug stores, make it possible to elevate the flavor of foods rather than smother them with a blanket of gravy. Yet, all this talk of gravy has made me want gravy, so I’m not saying that we need to eliminate our feasting treasures, but rather propose that we embellish our spread with vegetables and fruits that are close to their just picked condition and full of radiant colors.
And, to avoid the food comas that have become as much a Thanksgiving tradition as reliving childhood dramas, we must go to the source.
When we eat bread carbs, starches, and sugars we get a sugar spike that then makes us feel fatigued. There’s even amedical term for it. We like to blame this food coma on the tryptophan found in turkey, but in reality turkey doesn’t containenough of this amino acid to be the culprit. It’s the high sugar, heavy carb, overeating, and for some, over-drinking that makes us too tired to give thanks.
The Thanksgiving spread shown above includes, herb-roasted turkey taken from Ina’s new cookbook which we’ve topped with fresh gingered cranberry sauce (recipe provided below) using small amounts of natural sweetening and big doses of fresh fruit and citrus flavors. And what is Thanksgiving without green beans? At crunchtime we topped them with diced tomatoes, pine nuts, and slithered not a slathered them with butter. We whipped up sauteed diced kabocha squash with wild rice for whole grain goodness. Hint: the wild rice is from the salad bar at Whole Foods. We also included caramelized young carrots that we first tossed with olive oil and s&p and then roasted for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Of course, add your gravy, your mashed potatoes, your stuffings – we will too. Just make sure you turn up the color with some real food. And as food hero, Michael Pollan says, “eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”
As far as traditions, maybe like our grandparents of yesteryear, we show gratitude for each other and eat to stay healthy. And this year, let’s avoid the food coma that so often closes out the holiday with groans of lethargy and cravings for more food.
We are thankful for all of you, our loyal readers and daring diners who are getting more real by the meal.
Here is the gingered cranberry sauce recipe that tastes great as a luscious topping on turkey. You can make it today and I promise it will be even better on Thanksgiving. You’re welcome.
thanksgiving of a different color
preptime: 10 minutes
cooktime: 10 minutes
1 c fresh orange juice (4 large oranges)
1 t minced fresh ginger
1 t orange zest
1 t cinnamon
12-oz fresh cranberries
1/2 crushed pineapple (chopped in food processor)
1/4 c honey
1/4 c maple syrup
Bring orange juice, ginger, zest and cinnamon to a boil. Rinse cranberries and add to the boiling liquid. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Chop pineapple in food processor and add to cooked cranberries. Add honey and maple syrup and remove from the heat and cool. Serve at room temperature.
recipe adapted from WH Foods by your friends at crunchtimefood.com.
this post awarded:
Best of the Blogs, by Food News Journal