Last year I hosted Thanksgiving, so this year I’m not cooking: we’re going to my brother-in-law’s for the family get together. But I realized a few years ago that not cooking Thanksgiving has a huge, huge downside — I don’t have leftovers for several days of “hot lunch” (as my husband likes to call my preferred leftovers for lunch choice.)
So now, on the years I don’t host the actual Thanksgiving feast, I cook ‘Thanksgiving Friday” for local friends and family.
The beauty is: it’s not the ‘real deal’ so I can experiment a bit. The downside: I’ve found that as we get older, more of my Thanksgiving Friday guests have dietary restrictions. So this year I’ve been searching for new recipes that meet a bunch of requirements. First, some kind of low fat, low-cholesterol recipes for me. Second, vegan side dishes for my niece. And lastly, garlic & onion free options for one of my sisters.
It’s not easy.
But I love a challenge.
From a lo-co perspective, I refuse to give up gravy and mashed potatoes – so my lo-co choice for Thanksgiving is mostly just to limit portion size of non-lo-co foods. But I am adding one new thing: a healthier, homemade cranberry sauce. The recipe I like is Cooking Light’s Classic Cranberry Sauce which has a lot of sugar but is quite tasty. Plus you can make it ahead (key) and it at least has the nutrients and calcium of fresh, tart cranberries. So in my view, it’s a decent lo-co choice. (And hey, it’s easy to have the canned stuff available for those who refuse to vary from tradition.)
For my niece and sister, I am giving Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad from Melissa Clark / Julia Moskin (sorry, can’t tell whose recipe this is!) a whirl this Friday. By separating out a bit of lemon juice/salt/olive oil mixture and keeping it garlic-free for my sister, this recipe should work for EVERYONE at my table. Well, everyone except my son who wouldn’t touch kale if I paid him. He’ll stick with the traditional Campbell’s Soup/Durkee Fried Onion-drenched green bean casserole. Oh , who am I kidding – he’ll have nothing green. It’s Thanksgiving. He gets a pass.
For other great Thanksgiving ideas, read Julia Moskin and Melissa Clark’s excellent Essential Thanksgiving NYT article and accompanying recipes. I’m trying the turkey leg cooking method (no, not for me – I’m sticking to white meat!) and the mashed potato ideas listed in this well-done, instructional piece.
So my niece has something else to eat besides plain turkey and lemon-garlic kale salad, I’m investigating gluten free recipes. There is a veritable treasure trove of recipes and ideas for gluten free thanksgiving at Gluten Free Girl’s Grain Free Thanksgiving. And Cooking Light offers a Gluten Free Holiday Menu. I haven’t worked out yet which gluten free sides I’ll be making – but I better hop to it since it’s already Tuesday!