Last year we had our first organic Thanksgiving dinner. It was just our little family and my dad but I wanted to go all out and try to make all our favorite dishes using organic real food ingredients. Everything turned out great! I know organic foods are expensive and when you are trying to buy a complete Thanksgiving meal, it really adds up. While I do think organic is best, I want to share my 5 Simple Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving (without having to go completely organic):
Here are some recipes for healthier Thanksgiving appetizers, ideas for drinks, what we put on our turkey, recipes for side dishes, biscuits/rolls, and desserts. (Sorry if some of the pictures aren’t the best quality. Those were taken last year before I got better with my photography.) 😉
Make it simple with chips & dip, fruit/veggie tray, meat/cheese/cracker tray, and/or pickles & olives.
(I use organic tortilla chips, a refried bean & cheese dip, salsa (with or without sour cream), Late July crackers, uncured pepperoni. A guacamole and ranch dip recipe is listed below.)
Party Appetizers: http://organicfibromommies.com/2013/12/party-appetizers/.
Guacamole: The recipe is included in the Party Appetizers link above, and I’m totally estimating on the amounts because I don’t really measure. But it was so good! 1 tsp garlic powder, salt & pepper (sprinkle desired amount), 1/2 tsp onion powder (or 1 TB chopped white/yellow onion or red onion), 1 TB chopped cilantro, 1/2 tsp cumin, a couple small tomatoes-chopped, 2 large avocados, a few squirts of lime juice. Mash up the avocados, then add all the other ingredients and stir it up.
Ranch Dip Recipe (by 100 Days of Real Food): http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/12/01/recipe-ranch-flavored-dip/.
Pumpkin Fluff Dessert Dip (by 100 Days of Real Food): http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/11/14/recipe-pumpkin-fluff-dessert-dip/.
Pomegranate – great as an appetizer or it would be beautiful on a salad to serve with your Thanksgiving meal!
(Mama Natural’s video on how to open a pomegranate easily)
Eggnog – Organic Valley has a tasty Eggnog (pictured on the right), if you can find it. We got it earlier in the month and since then it has been selling out so fast so we had to go with the Horizon brand which is good too but not AS good.
Sparkling Cider – R.W. Knudsen has a good brand with all different flavors.
Kombucha – There is a little organic store by us that sells this but I’m sure you can find it other places like Whole Foods. Or, there are a lot of recipes out there to make it.
Wine – There are organic wines. I found a whole section at Fred Meyer.
We use butter, rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, garlic powder, salt an pepper as a turkey rub. We do not measure and it would depend on the size of your turkey anyway. (You can use the herbs that you like but we thought these were really good together.) Cook @ 325 degrees, 3 – 3 1/2 hours for a 12-14 lb turkey. (Increase or decrease the time by an hour for a bigger or smaller turkey.) Of course you will want to temp it to determine if it’s done, and baste the turkey along the way (it’s all about that baste, ’bout that baste…. sorry, got a little crazy there). 😉 After the turkey is done it will need to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing. While it’s resting start cooking other foods that need to cook in the oven. Usually green bean casserole, then the stuffing, then the rolls. Any pies should be baked ahead of time, unless you’re lucky enough to have more than one oven of course.
Mashed Potatoes & Turkey Gravy
Here’s my cheesy garlic mashed potato recipe that you can do with or without the cheese and sour cream (I would double the recipe for a larger crowd): http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/01/cheesy-garlic-mashed-potatoes/.
For the gravy:
Use the turkey juice after the turkey is done, pour into a large saucepan and add 2 cups of chicken broth. Turn up the heat to medium-high and after it starts to bubble, whisk in 1/2 cup of flour. Just keep whisking until you get the right consistency. (Some people like to separate the fat out of the pan drippings and cook the fat in the pan with the flour, then add the broth. This is just extra work to me so I skip that step. It is kind-of hard to get the flour clumps to mix up but it works.)
12 oz. organic cream of mushroom soup, ¾ cup milk, 1/8 tsp black pepper, 1 clove minced garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder), 2 – 9 oz. packages frozen green beans thawed, and 1 1/3 cups fried onions (plus extra for topping – I found some at Trader Joe’s or there’s a recipe to make them by 100 Days of Real Food). In a 2 1/2 QT casserole dish, mix soup and milk. Then add pepper and garlic. Mix thoroughly. Add green beans and fried onions. You can have this ready in the fridge until after you pull the turkey out to rest, and that will give the green beans time to thaw. Bake at 350 for 30 min. Stir, top with remaining fried onions and bake another 5 min.
10 oz bag of organic herbed bread cubes, 1 ½ cups of chicken broth, 1/3 cup of butter, 1 cup of chopped onion, 1 cup of chopped celery, ½ to 1 lb of ground sausage. Brown sausage in small chunks (drain if needed). Then add celery and onion to sauté. Bring broth and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat and add bread cubes, mix thoroughly. Cover, let stand for 5 min. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, add bread cubes and sausage/celery/onion mixture. Mix thoroughly and bake at 350 for 10 min to develop a golden crust. (You can pop this in the oven after you pull out the green bean casserole.)
You could make biscuits/rolls ahead of time and then just warm them up after the turkey is done and resting. Real Fit Real Food Mom’s sandwich buns would work great as rolls. Or my Easy Drop Biscuit recipe. I haven’t posted it to the blog yet but the recipe is:
Easy Drop Biscuits:
*Makes about 18 biscuits (depending on the size)
2 cups flour, 1 TB baking powder, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp thyme (or parsley), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, rosemary (optional), 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup milk (I use organic whole)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, garlic powder, and thyme/rosemary. (I put the rosemary as optional because my kids don’t like the stick-like texture of the rosemary in their biscuits, but I like the flavor. So it’s up to you. Still good without it.) Stir in the melted butter and milk just until moistened. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (I use coconut oil) and we also add a little flour to cover the pan. Just kind-of bat the pan to get the flour completely covered. This seems to be the best way for the biscuits not to stick. Drop batter on the cookie sheet by the tablespoon. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until golden on the edges.
Fruit Salad: Add the different kinds of fruit you want (canned or fresh), chopped. We usually use satsuma oranges, grapes, pears, pineapple, cherries – basically the fruit cocktail fruits. And maybe some apples would be good in it. Add whip cream (see homemade recipe below). You can also add shredded coconut if you want. We don’t measure, we just basically take half of the whip cream that we make and add to a large bowl with different kinds of fruit. Then use the other half of the whip cream for the pie. For a healthier fruit salad, I like this recipe from My Whole Food Life.
Blackberry Cobbler Recipe (you can do other kinds of fruit too): http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/08/blackberry-cobbler/.
Pumpkin Pie (my Easy Homemade Pumpkin Pie): http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/11/easy-homemade-pumpkin-pie/.
For Whip Cream we use this recipe: http://www.organicvalley.coop/recipes/show/whipped-cream/ (of course, you can reduce the amount of sugar).
When Thanksgiving is over, why not make your own broth using the turkey bones?? You can follow my recipe for making homemade chicken broth. I recommend doing two separate batches because the turkey carcass is so large. You could separate all the bones and split them up between two batches, or freeze half the bones to make more broth at a later time.
Uses for Leftover Turkey: Just use the same ideas in the following post on uses for leftover chicken –http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/09/whole-chicken-crockpot-homemade-broth/.
Turkey Noodle Soup: Use my chicken noodle soup recipe and just substitute the chicken for turkey.
If you have any leftover pumpkin puree left when everything is all over, here are my pumpkin recipes: http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/10/pumpkin-recipes/.