Recipe Tweaks to Make Thanksgiving Dinner Healthier

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The good old days are kind of gone in 2020! This WAS the time of year when families gathered together and enjoyed a lot of meals together. And then went out to the malls and stores to shop! But because of the pandemic and rising cases this fall, our focus is on how to protect our immune system.

Still, some of you may be cooking for immediate family and household members. So today’s focus is how to indulge in delicious Thanksgiving day recipes, but with 2 perks:
1. Eat without increasing the bulge.
2. Eat meals with immune-boosting benefits.

Here are some easy recipe tweaks that will ensure your meals are healthier, less fatty, and more nutrient-dense. Here are my best tips:

Slivers of Swiss Chard.
Add one large green leaf of Swiss Chard to your salad, and make sure to cut it into thin slivers, so it combines well into your Romaine lettuce. This adds antioxidant compounds to your salad that help boost immunity. Further, it is rich in B vitamins that improve methylation capacity.

A quarter teaspoon of this spice added to your green bean casserole will go virtually unnoticed from a taste perspective, but it adds some anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits. It also reduces the build up of brain plaque according to some mice studies.

Enhance the water.
If you are making a recipe that calls for water, such as mashed potatoes where you are boiling the potatoes for a while, enhance the water. By this I mean add an herb that will infuse into the potatoes while they cook. For example, I would add either a Bay leaf, or a piece of astragalus root, and then when you are done boiling the potatoes, just pull out the leaf or astragalus (or both if you used them). What this does is add another layer of immune protection because both of these natural herbs are known to support T-reg cell function and other aspects of immunity. Astragalus is good for prevention, and Bay leaf actually has fighting chemicals.

Shiitake mushrooms.
Using these mushrooms in your stuffing adds some biologically active compounds that may protect against cancer and inflammation. A 2015 STUDY in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that regular consumption of these mushrooms resulted in improved immunity and a reduction in the pro-inflammatory compound C-Reactive Protein. If you’d like to see my recipe for “Holy Amazing Stuffing” that truly is AMAZING, and includes shiitake mushrooms, CLICK HERE.

Most people know about making cauliflower mash, as a substitute for the high-carb regular mashed potatoes. But what about “Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese?” I have the recipe posted on my website and it’s awesome, especially for the kids.

Rosemary and other Herbs.
If you are cooking a turkey, consider adding fresh rosemary to the inside along with your other fillings. Rosemary contains rosemarinic acids which reduce inflammation and are thought to help with certain types of cancer. You can even add a fresh sprig of rosemary to a glass of water, along with a squeeze of lemon. If you’re interested in making an “herb roasted turkey” for the holidays, CLICK HERE for the recipe.

Coconut Water.
In my “Relatively Famous Cranberry Sauce,” I replace the plain water with high-quality coconut water and it doesn’t alter the flavor that much at all! Coconut water is hydrating and it contains compounds that are anti-fungal and antioxidant in nature. It may help if you are prone to kidney stone formation or if you have diabetes. You can substitute coconut water in any recipe that calls for water.

Tea Seed Oil.
Tea seed comes from the seeds of Camellia sinensis. That’s the plant that gives us green tea.  The Tea Seed oil is cold-pressed and very popular in other countries. With a mild, neutral flavor this would be great to substitute for another inferior oil such as vegetable or canola. It has anti-fungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Pumpkin Seed Oil.
Add 2 teaspoons to your pumpkin pie filling before cooking it for a profoundly richer flavor and powerful medicinal benefits. It’s rich in vitamin E, zinc, omega fatty acids and is well known to support prostate and breast health. By the way, if you ❤️ pumpkin, you will enjoy making Jackie-Jo’s Heirloom Pumpkin Pie Recipe.

Instead of mayo, you can use crushed avocados as a spread. This might be something you do with leftover turkey subs. As far as a recipe for avocados, I can recommend “Baked Eggs in Avocado Boats.”

Anywhere you can add garlic, do so! You can even roast a whole head of garlic if you wrap it in foil and cook it inside the oven. Then spread it onto crackers or add a dollop to mashed potatoes. Garlic contains allicin which is a very strong anti-viral and antibacterial compound. If your recipe calls for 3 cloves of garlic, use 4 or even 5. Garlic is a strong immunomodulator and will crank up activity of your NK (natural killer cells) and this is exactly what you want.

Dried tart cherries.
Instead of cranberries (or in addition to), you can cut some dried tart cherries into your stuffing. These are known to contain natural melatonin which is deeply relaxing. They’ve been studied for their ability to support gout. Tart cherries reduce muscle breakdown and speed up recovery during fitness according to studies. They have virtually no fat or sodium and taste very satisfying and not too sweet.

The health benefits of tart cherries are so profound that I sourced the world’s best form of it and put it in one of my formulas which is for healthy hair, beautiful skin and nails: Collagen Beauty Powder.

Almond Flour.
To get the pain-relieving benefits of almonds, use ground almond flour instead of all-purpose flour for your gravy. If you want to reduce the sodium content commonly found in traditional gravy that starts with chicken broth, just substitute plain water! To avoid compromising flavor, you’ll want to add spices like onion and garlic powder, smoked paprika and fresh rosemary. If you love almonds, here’s a recipe to make Gluten Free Almond Sesame Crackers.

Gluten-Free Flours.
Whether or not you have Celiac, or are sensitive to gluten, is irrelevant. This additive causes inflammation to the gut lining. Substitute all-purpose flour with rice flour or almond flour in all recipes, without compromising the flavor.

Substitutes for Wine.
If you don’t want to drink red wine (or alcohol), you can make a 50/50 mix of tonic water with pomegranate juice. You can also find alcohol-free egg nog everywhere! Finally, you can sip on warm apple cider.