As the calamity of the year comes to a close, I’m sure many of us are happy to see it go and to begin celebrating the holidays and traditions. Next up, Thanksgiving!
In the midst of a pandemic, political unrest, and racial injustice, there is still so much to be thankful for, and our health is of utmost importance as we navigate COVID-19. Now, I do not proclaim to be any sort of health guru, but I do know that small changes to your diet can really make a difference. I am a meat-eating, cheese-loving, and mostly carb-binging, busy wife and mom, but I have tried hard to swap out some of my family’s food choices for those that are plant-based, less fat, and/or fewer calories.
So let’s dive into our Thanksgiving menu. As the food industry continues to give us healthy alternatives, making a Thanksgiving dinner that doesn’t blow your daily calorie intake with one slice of cake can actually be done and done deliciously.
For my vegetarians, Thanksgiving has always been good to you because everyone knows that the sides are the star of the show. Although that golden, brown turkey took years to perfect, without the side dishes, it’s a complete flop.
One of my favorite dishes are collard greens. These are usually made with a nice hunk of meat to flavor the greens. For those eating a plant-based diet, a great alternative is to add liquid smoke and barbecue sauce to your collards to add depth of flavor. Follow this recipe from the Today Show to please all your plant-eating guests!
For vegans, I’m sure making a completely vegan meal in years past has been challenging. However, with the boom of at-home vegan chefs like Tabitha Brown, this year may be the best one yet. I am my family’s professional macaroni and cheese baker. I have perfected this recipe, and it is delectable. Changing my mastered recipe to a vegan one is actually pretty simple. Here are my favorite swaps:
- Daiya shredded cheese is amazing! It’s soy free, gluten free, and it melts into an ooey gooey, non-cheesy mac!
- For your milk products, any nut milk could be used or melting the cheese in a non-dairy yogurt works as well. Try Silk’s almond milk, unsweetened yogurt. Finally, my macaroni is always topped with butter. One of the best plant-based butters is Country Crock’s Avocado Oil Butter. I seriously cannot taste the difference. It is an amazing alternative.
Now who’s ready for dessert? For my gluten-free friends, pies, pies, and more pies will appear at the Thanksgiving dinner table, but that crust will not do. Check out this gluten free pie crust recipe from Delish. It will wow you!
The secret is to make sure your gluten-free flour with xantham gum and a touch of sour cream will perfect the texture. Now fill the pie crust with your favorite treat: pumpkin, sweet potato, or apple filling. Actually, let’s do all three! We all know the desserts are the last failed attempt to push ourselves away from the table before flopping down on the couch to watch some football. We deserve all three ingredients!
I hope these food alternatives were helpful, I hope we all can enjoy this holiday season on whatever dietary plan we choose — healthily and happily — enjoying our friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving!