While other people get their jollies dressing up like promiscuous animals for Halloween or squeezing into overcrowded, overpriced restaurants on Valentine's Day, I reserve my enthusiasm for Thanksgiving. Call me cynical, but I'm a food writer and Thanksgiving is an entire day dedicated to nothing more than delicious comfort food.
Admittedly, in years past, I've used Thanksgiving as an excuse to binge eat potatoes and heavy cream until I had to change pants (or, at least, unbutton). But this year, fresh off my diagnosis, I thought I'd try to approach the holiday with a bit more balance and prepare an anti-inflammatory Thanksgiving. Yes, there will be pumpkin pie and green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, but there will also be decidedly less dairy, gluten and other inflammation-inducing foods.
The challenge: how to minimize those aforementioned ingredients without compromising taste. To help, I've turned to some of my favorite food magazines and blogs for healthy Thanksgiving recipes with equal parts nutrition and flavor. Take a look at my game plan below.
An anti-inflammatory Thanksgiving:
Appetizers: I always like to start with something light and healthy that requires virtually no time in the kitchen, like shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon and antipasto platters chockfull of veggies like artichokes, roasted red peppers and tangy olives. A tradition in my family is to serve this incredibly indulgent Cauliflower & Caramelized Onion Tart, but the Curried Sweet Potato Rounds with Honeyed Walnuts and Cranberries that I plan to add to the rotation this year will surely balance it out.
The Sides: Obviously there will be turkey (this is America!) and mine will be stuffed full of garlic and lemons and oodles of fresh herbs and bathed in olive oil, but let's be real: does anybody really love turkey? Thanksgiving is all about the sides and my Thanksgiving table wouldn't be complete without green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and spinach gratin. In years past when I've read those words, I saw comfort, creamy, velvety deliciousness. But this year, I see butter, heavy cream, cheese and a stomach ache. All is not lost, though! After scouring the interwebs, I think I've found just the alternatives I need to nourish my body and feed my soul, without sacrificing flavor. Replace canned cream of mushroom soup with a homemade version made with almond milk for a Vegan Green Bean Casserole (also make your own gluten-free crispy onions by pan-frying shallots in coconut oil). Swap mashed potatoes for crispy garlic smashed potatoes, use corn's natural milk to add silkiness to this creamless creamed corn recipe and indulge just a little and go all in on the Gruyere spinach gratin. It's all about balance.
Dessert: Fortunately, pumpkin pie is already a vegetable-centric dessert, so not too much needs to be altered in this department. In the past, I've usually made a variation of this pumpkin bourbon tart recipe, and this year will be similar. Only this time, I'm going to use coconut palm sugar in place of refined white sugar, cornstarch instead of flour and coconut milk and oil in place of butter and cream cheese (inspired by this vegan, gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe).