Real Food Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I call it the “no pressure” holiday because it has all the perks of the food without all the commercialism of the modern Christmas. I love planning the meal, shopping for ingredients, and best of all, the preparation of the food! It’s all about the food and being eternally grateful for all that has been given to me.

My cooking has evolved over the years. Twelve years ago when I was first married, I was living in Germany and used the single soldiers in my husband’s platoon as my culinary guinea pigs. They didn’t seem to mind since they were far away from home and longing for a home cooked meal. Back then, I wasn’t “organic” and just bought my ingredients conventionally from a grocery store. I still bought fresh ingredients and made everything from scratch. Over the years I have adapted the very same recipes that I used back then to organic and whole food ingredients.

When I lived in California, everything was fresh from the Farmer’s Market in my town that ran year-round. I could get fresh, organic green beans through December! I purchased my free-range, organic turkey from Whole Foods and my organic canned pumpkin from Trader Joe’s. We enjoyed many healthy, home-cooked, real food Thanksgiving dinners that way.

Since moving to New Jersey last year I have discovered local food co-ops. I have come to rely on these so heavily that I rarely have to step foot in a grocery store. I am able to get my organic, raw, grass-fed milk, organic butter, truly pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, chicken, pastured pork, kefir starter grains, raw honey, and many other real foods right from a local farm that delivers to a drop point right over the bridge from me in Philadelphia. My vegetables come from a local North Jersey CSA and I pick them up a few miles from my house at a drop point. We have thoroughly enjoyed fresh, local, in-season foods this year. The sad thing is that CSA’s here in the North East are not all year round and I am going to miss my farm fresh vegetables immensely!

Back to Thanksgiving! I was able to get a free-range, pastured, organic turkey this year from my farm co-op and am looking forward to preparing it. I wanted to share the recipe since it is a family favorite. I prepare a “Mustard-Rubbed Roast Turkey with Mushroom Gravy” recipe that I found in the November 1999 issue of Bon Appétit. I changed the recipe to all organic ingredients.

Another favorite is “Green Beans with Mustard and Thyme” from that same Bon Appétit issue. I do not like “Green Bean Casserole” at all so this is a fantastic alternative.

4 pounds green beans, trimmed
½ cup butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Working in batches, cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes per batch. Strain beans to a large bowl of ice water, cool completely. Drain well.
Melt ¼ cup butter in each of two heavy skillets(or just cook these in two batches in one skillet) over medium-high heat. Whisk one tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon mustard, and 1 tablespoon garlic salt into butter. Add half of the beans and toss until heated through, about four minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and remaining tablespoon of thyme.

For the past two years I have been making a mock Boston Market style sweet potato dish. All the ingredients in this dish are organic also. Toonie Moonie has a wonderful organic alternative to conventional marshmallow fluff that works splendidly in this recipe. You could always be adventurous and make you own. Real food is key! I really try not to compromise just because it’s a holiday. You can also replace the marshmallow completely with some pecans for a nice crunchy texture.

“Organic Boston Market-Style Sweet Potatoes”
6-8 Servings
6 cups mashed sweet potatoes (5 to 6 potatoes-see step #1)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar plus extra for sprinkling( I prefer to use organic evaporated cane sugar or Rapadura instead, for health reasons)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups mini marshmallows (preferably organic) or approx 1 cup Toonie Moonie Marshmallow Fluff

1. Rub a little olive on the skin of each sweet potato and bake them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 60 to 70 minutes or until they are tender. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scrape out the insides and use an electric mixer on high speed to beat the potatoes until they are mashed and smooth.
2. Add 3/4 cup brown sugar, heavy cream, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt into the sweet potatoes and mix well with the beater until all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour this mixture into an 8×8 or 9×13-inch baking dish.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Bake for about 30 minutes
5. Pour Marshmallows into potatoes, let melt slightly and swirl.
6. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar (or evaporated cane/Rapadura) and serve.

These are just a few of our favorites. I could go on and on. Just remember that real cream, butter, and raw milk are not unhealthy and should not be replaced with skim, ultra-processed milk or margarine. We try to eat like they did in traditional diets, way back in the day.

My cooking is still evolving. It probably always will. All I know is that cooking is one of my favorite things to do and I love the way real food tastes. If you take the time to prepare a fresh, out-of-the-box thanksgiving dinner, you will taste such a tremendous difference. You will never go back!

Keep It Real!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah – The Real Food Outlaw Mama
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