Here are a few simple ways to upgrade your Thanksgiving:
Choose an organic, free-range turkey. Turkeys that are certified organic are given only organic feed and have not been treated with antibiotics. Free range means the turkeys are allowed to roam about, and not confined into a very small area like conventional turkeys usually are. You can usually find organic, free-range turkeys at Whole Foods, your local farmer’s market or co-op, or you can order one online from US Wellness Meats.
Use grass-fed, organic butter at your Thanksgiving dinner table instead of conventional butter or margarine. Butter produced from pasture or grass-fed animals — those animals who feed on greens — will be higher in nutrients than butter from factory-farmed animals raised on cheap, nutrient-free GMO grains and antibiotics. If your grocery store doesn’t carry organic, grass-fed butter, try the farmer’s market for fresh, local, minimally processed butter from well-treated, healthy animals.
If you usually make a meatless casserole that’s full of cheese and breadcrumbs, try making a few different kinds of roasted veggies instead. They are incredibly satisfying, nourishing, filling, and taste great. Try roasting Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, squash, and other root vegetables with coconut oil and herbs. Topping roasted veggies with toasted almonds, walnuts or pecans can also be a great alternative.
Have you ever tried cauliflower mashed "potatoes"? They are just as delicious as regular mashed potatoes — you may not even be able to tell the difference! All you do is steam two heads of cauliflower, puree it in a food processor or Vitamix, and add whatever seasonings you like (try sea salt, black pepper, and grass-fed butter or olive oil).
Gravy is arguably the most important thing on the Thanksgiving table — and you can upgrade your gravy to a dairy- and gluten-free version that everyone will love. Try using mushrooms and brown-rice flour (like in this recipe). All the savory satisfaction of traditional gravy, without the gluten.
Using gluten-free bread or even grain-free bread made from almond and coconut flour (like the breads on Elana’s Pantry), you can create a healthier stuffing that will taste so great, nobody will even know it’s gluten free. There are also a lot of recipes available for gluten-free quinoa or wild-rice stuffing. Combine your gluten-free grain of choice with celery, onions, sage, thyme, and rosemary, and you’ll be happily — and healthfully – stuffing your turkey in no time.
There are a lot of ways to make more health-conscious desserts for Thanksgiving. Instead of using white sugar, try more natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar. There are fantastic recipes out there that use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, and crusts using almonds, macadamia nuts, or walnuts instead of regular flour. If you do indulge in conventional sugary treats, try having a small portion and filling the rest of your plate with a fresh seasonal fruit salad. Apples, pears, pomegranates, and fresh figs are great options.