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19 November, 2013

Easy Thanksgiving Dinner: Homemade, healthy and easy.

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You don’t really need much to put up a Thanksgiving dinner. The bird, the green and the white stuff; and a dessert, of course. You can even make it non expensive by choosing chicken instead of turkey. In my opinion, I think a roasted chicken is tastier than turkey. Cook it the same way! Pretend is a small turkey.

I have here a truly healthy recipe for a Thanksgiving feast you will never forget, because is so simple and easy to make and you will be surprised at the taste. Forget the already pre-made Thanksgiving dinner; it is so boring, the same taste year after year!

Here are the recipes options: The fast, and the slow recipes. Choose whatever you think works for you and mix match any recipe.

The first thing you should do is choose your bird and buy at least 2 days in advance to let it defrost and have enough time to marinate. The bird should be marinating in the fridge for 1-2 days. Don’t forget a broiler!thanksgiving chicken

Depending of your budget, and for 8 people, you could buy a Free range 4.5 lbs. turkey, or an organic fed turkey; 2 big chickens; 2 ducks or 8 Cornish hens.

Then you choose the Potatoes (Sweet or White) or blend of rice, a green beans casserole or a southern style Collard greens casserole or a tasty Spinach salad.

Bird Ingredients and Preparation:

Ones you have chosen the bird, find a bag large enough to fit in the bird. A regular trash bag works fine if you choose to roast a big bird.

You will need:

1 Cup Anise Stars

½ Cup Grape seed oil

1 Tsp. Ground organic clove

¾ Cup black strap molasses

¼ Cup GMO free Teriyaki sauce (good luck with that) or Barley Miso

1/3 cup of liquor (anise, or Grand Mainer or bourbon) Don’t worry about the liquor, all the alcohol in it will completely evaporate during cooking process.

Sea Salt and Crushed black pepper

(These amounts will be enough to marinade a 4 pound turkey or 2 medium size whole chicken)

~~~ Preparation ~~~

Prep. Time= 10 min. / Cooking time= Depends of the size and amount of the birds. If you are roasting a turkey, please follow the cooking instruction. If you are cooking 2 chickens at the same time, then it will take about 2 hours 30 minutes at 350 F.

*Cooking tip: You know you have overcooked your bird if the tip of the legs show the naked bone.

In a sauce pan gently boil the star anise with ¼ cup of water for 1 min. Remove and cool. Transfer to a bowl and add all the ingredients except the salt and pepper. Mix all together, this is your all bird type marinade.

Using gloves, take the bird and season with plenty of sea salt and pepper. Put some in your hands and rub it all inside the bird. Place the bird inside the bag and pour the marinade inside. Tie well the bag and let it stand inside the fridge for 1-2 days. You will need to turn the bird upside down every once in a while; lets say in the morning and then a couple of times when you get back from work.

On Thanksgiving day, plan ahead for the cooking time of the bird you have chosen. The bigger the bird the longer time it needs in the oven. Remove the bird from the bag and place over the broiler. Season again with salt and fresh crushed pepper. Baste with the marinade left in the bag. Roast covered with aluminum paper for the first 3/4 of the cooking time and uncover to brown in the remaining 20 min. before the bird is done. For a perfect finish, I recommend to baste the bird at least 3 times while in the oven.

While the bird is cooking in the oven you could do any of these sides. Preparation time is not long.

Choice of Sides: Ingredients and preparation.

Sweet potatoes smash with roasted cayenne pepper nuts

6 medium size sweet potatoes or red yams (these later type are sweeter)

2 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

½ Tsp. Ground Cardamom

½ Tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. Butter from grass fed cows.

1/4 Tsp Cinnamon ground organic

1 handful coated sweet crunchy and spicy nuts (Pecans, cashew or chestnut). Buy wisely.

~~~ Preparation ~~~

(40 min.)

Scrub and wash all potatoes and place on a cookie sheet or oven prove pan and bake at 400 F for about 45min. or until a knife goes through it easily. Remove from oven. Let them cool down and peel off the skin; this should be easy. Place in the serving bowl and smash one by one with a smasher. Add butter while smashing. Add the rest of the ingredients and at the end the nuts.

Serve warm.

Smash white potatoes with butter and herbs

Well this is a recipe that cries out for real butter and real organic fresh herbs.

5-6 Large any white potatoes

Salt to taste

1 tbsp. of organic herbs (A blend of “Herbs de Provence” works great, but you can just make a nice blend with some thyme, rosemary and oregano)

Whole milk as needed to soften – about 1 ½ cup- (from grass fed cows if possible, if not, just use 5 tbsp. of grape seed oil and some more butter)

Black crushed pepper

3-4 Tbsp. butter

~~~ Preparation ~~~

(40 min. max)

Finely chop all the fresh herbs. In a medium size skillet gently melt the butter, and herbs and sauté for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup milk and cook until milk is lukewarm. Remove, put aside covered.

Boil peeled potatoes until soften in a large pot with about 3 tablespoons of salt. Drain and put in a serving bowl. Smash until smooth while adding the milk and herb mixture little by little. Add some pepper and salt to taste.

Pumpkin Rice blend with herbs and butter

A perfect but neglected side dish for thanksgiving is rice. Here is a fun easy way to deliver a gourmet rice. If you choose to buy one of those fancy rice mix, make sure is not seasoned, these usually are highly contaminated with toxins. A simple combination of white rice and wild rice will do wonders for this recipe and digestion.

Rice in a Pumpkin bowl

Rice in a Pumpkin bowl

1 ½ Cup rice mix

3 Cups of natural organic chicken broth

½ Tsp. sea salt

1 Tsp. dry organic herb mix (Italian or Herbs de Provence)

3 Tbsp. butter (ghee works the best)

2 Lbs. Pumpkin or butternut squash cut in small square pieces.

~~~ Preparation ~~~

(20 min.)

Place pieces of pumpkin or butternut squash in a baking pan. Drizzle with some oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 F until slightly brown. Remove from oven and set apart.

Place rice blend, herbs, salt and water in a pot to boil. When water has soaked in and rice can be seen in the surface, stir in butter, lower stove temperature to low-low and cover until water has evaporated almost completely. Turn off stove and let it stand for 15-20 min.

Place rice in a serving bowl and add the pieces of roasted pumpkins or the butternut squash. Gently fold in all the pieces and serve.

Choice of greens:

Spinach Salad with sweet coated sunflower seeds and coconut balsamic vinaigrette

DSCN7097

1-2 Bags of baby Spinach leaves

¼ cup coated sunflower seeds (Honey roasted or chocolate covered)

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

3-4 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil

1 Tsp. Turbinado sugar or honey

Fresh crushed pepper

¼ Tsp. salt

Optional: Top with natural cranberries or favorite dry fruit (choose wisely and avoid oils and sugars added ones)

~~~ Preparation~~~

(5 min.)

Wash thoroughly spinach with water and pickled vinegar. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Put in a serving bowl and add sunflower seeds.

Vinaigrette: A little food science here. Coconut oil makes saponification possible and you will find that your vinaigrette will turn thick and smooth when you start whisking it. If any left over, this will probably turn solid if the temperature is cold, but by warming this in the microwave for 20 seconds should get smooth again, but you got to whisk it again.

Make sure the coconut oil is not stiff, if so, warm slightly. Add all ingredients together and whisk!… The result is a delicious taste you will never find in any store bought vinaigrette.

Classic Green Beans casserole

This time use French green beans. You will need all the green beans you think you might need for your crowd. Think 2 handfuls for each person.

(For 8 handful of green beans)

Enough Green French beans

3-4 Tbsp. Olive oil

½ Chopped garlic

Salt to taste

Sprinkle crushed Shaved almonds (about 4 Tbsp.)

~~~ Preparation ~~~

(10 min.)

Steam beans. Don’t overcook. Beans should still look green after cooking. Drain and place in a serving dish. Aside, add the chopped garlic to the oil in a small cup, add some salt and stir. Add to beans when these are still hot and top with crushed almonds before serving.

Southern style Collard Greens

1-2 bunch Collard greens, washed and scrubbed

1 medium Chopped onion

1 Pack Nitrite free Pork bacon

1 Cup whipping cream (Choose wisely and make sure it does not contain mono and diglycerides)

½ Tsp. crushed black pepper

Salt to taste

~~~ Preparation ~~~

(15 min.)

Chop coarsely the collards. In a large skillet place onion to soften with chopped bacon and cook to medium low until bacon is brown and crispy. Drain fat from skillet and return it to the stove to add greens. Place chopped collards in skillet to sauté and constantly stir until slightly soften. Add pepper, some salt and add the whipping cream. Let it simmer for 1 min. and then remove skillet from stove. Set aside and serve warm.

AHHHH! Dessert!

The best thing you can do to save time and money is to invite someone for Thanksgiving dinner; friends are more likely to bring dessert and wine, thank goodness for friends! But if you want to include a simple dessert here are the following options that I recommend. These are low in sugars and free of Trans fats and other nasty “makes me want to sleep” ingredients.

Pumpkin Cheesecake: http://youandicook.com/wordpress/pumpkin-cheesecake/

Easy gourmet cheesecake: http://youandicook.com/wordpress/greek-cheesecake/

Classic desserts: http://youandicook.com/wordpress/classic-apple-pie/

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