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You Can Have Your Turkey, and Eat it Too.

Posted on Posted in food, Wellness

Turkey Day is the one day out of the year when you can eat whatever the  heck you want. Right? Most of us don’t feel bad for shoving our faces on this notorious American Holiday. I certainly don’t. As a Wellness Babe, however, I do feel compelled to ensure myself the intake of at least some nutritious edibles. So for you fellow Wellness Babe’s, here are some fool proof methods to eating your face off this Turkey Day, and actually not doing that much damage to your hot bod.

The holidays are upon us which can only mean stress, shopping and stuffing (your turkey and your face) but this year, lets try to nourish our families with real food that just happens to be tasty, too. You with me?

First, Iet’s take a look at a traditional Thanksgiving favorite: The turkey. Where does it come from? How is it raised? Is it even good for you?

THE TURKEY

You probably think your Thanksgiving turkey was raised on a farm from birth to death before making its way into your local grocery store. Well, that’s kinda-sorta true, but 50% of turkeys come from a turkey haterchy in Minnesota. They hatch over 30 million baby turkeys per year.  Then the chicks get sold to the farmer. Most of the turkeys you see at the grocery store come from a factory farm.

Do I need to elaborate? I will anyway.

Poor living conditions, numerous health problems, GMO feed, unsanitary raising methods, pumped with antibiotics, unnatural growth rates, ect. You know the drill. This is not what you want to be feeding your family for thanksgiving. After the turkeys endure that lovely lifestyle, they usually go to a separate slaughterhouse where they are often either intentionally or unintentionally tortured before slaughter. You may care about that kind of stuff, or you may not, whatever floats your boat. But you should acknowledge that the traditional Thanksgiving bird is one that is not facilitating good health for you, your families’ or the environment.

There is some fancy trickery going on at the grocery store, so buyers beware.

For instance, back in 2014 all Butterball products were slapped with the American Humane Certified label. Well that makes ya feel better about your turkey doesn’t it? Unfortunately, no. This certification basically mirrors practices that are currently already in place on industrial farms. Consumer Reports has given this certification a grade of ‘somewhat meaningful’ meaning that there are regulations in place but that they are not stringent enough. Some have even marked this label as being “industry friendly.” Bottom line: ButterBall turkey, you’re not foolin’ anyone.

Free-roaming and Free-range turkeys aren’t that cool either. These terms that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside are really only meant to do just that. They simply mean that the bird must be given access to the outdoors for 51% of their lives, according to the USDA. There are no requirements for the size or quality for the outdoor space and the birds rarely take advantage of using the outdoor space that is provided. Turkeys still live in low lighting, are subject to debeaking, are fed genetically modified grain and essentially live in their own feces.

What about an “all natural” label? This is the worst. THE WORST. Please do not let yourself be fooled by turkey, meat or any other foods with the “all-natural” label. It literally means nothing. The USDA currently does not have any requirements for food products using this label. The FDA has a policy from 1993 that states that they have no problem with the use of the word natural “provided it is used in a manner that is truthful and not misleading and the product does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.”  You don’t have to practice vegetarianism or veganism to see that there is a need for a better solution for turkey-eating.

Bottom line: Grocery store turkeys are a no-go.

But as always, we do have some Wellness Babe ready solutions for you, so strap on your heels and get ready to win Turkey Day.

1.) What’s wrong with a meatless Turkey Day? Sure, it goes against everything we’ve ever known, cherished and grew up with but its ok to be different. In fact, that’s what Wellness Babes thrive on. Finding solutions to these issues is our mantra and if we have to stray from tradition with our health in mind, then so be it. There are so many different delicious and healthy side dishes that go along with this holiday, so why not go bird-less? Try a meat-free main dish like a gluten-free baked ziti, stuffed peppers or even fish!

2.) Or, stick with the bird, but buy it straight off the farm. Hop on one of my favorites, http://www.localharvest.org/ and use the search bar to locate farms in your area that are selling turkeys. Don’t wait to do this. Remember these are not giant, industrial farms! They only have so many turkeys to sell. This website provides tons of information about farms and you’ll be re assured after speaking with the farmers about how they’re raising their turkeys. The best part? You’ll want to hug your computer screen when it comes times to taste your turkey.

3.) Not cooking this holiday? No problemo. This might be the easiest option. Whip up a yummy side dish, main dish or desert to bring over to the in-laws. Then avoid the Turkey and eat everything else. Now, almost every traditional side dish has some ingredients that are less-than-impressive to a babe, but we have to choose our battles. Eat stuff that looks like real food. Cranberry sauce in the shape of a can is probably a no-go. Baked sweet potatoes are good option. Anything homemade such as stuffing or mashed potatoes is better than something that came from a box. As long as these Turkey Day food items don’t make their way into your every day lifestyle, you’ll be ok.

THE SIDE DISHES

Nobody’s favorite part about Thanksgiving is the Turkey (am I right?). It’s the sides that get all the glory. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, casseroles, cranberry sauce, gravy…what did I leave out?

Most of the time, these sides are made to be quick and easy. You end up taking short cuts in the kitchen and unknowingly, with your health. Shortcuts like stuffing from a box are what we like to call ‘inferior foods’ and theres nothing about you that’s inferior . We’re here to help.

Let start with an easy one: Mashed Potatoes.

Step 1: Don’t buy mashed potatoes from a box.

Step 2: Get real potatoes, wash them, leave the skin on, dice them up and boil them in salted water (we like pink Himalayan salt) until they are fork tender. Mash them with almond milk, REAL butter and some more salt. Serve. Wow that was easier than I thought.

Stuffing: hmmm, this one is a head-scratcher, especially if you want to go the gluten-free route. First things first: Boxed stuffing is not allowed.  It’s really not that hard to make from scratch. You’ll need:

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

¾ cup REAL butter

salt

thyme

sage

pepper

9 cups of bread cubes- – ok, here’s where it gets tricky. Bread is, uh, sugar, as we all know. I prefer to use a good Italian bread for stuffing but the important thing to remember is to look for bread without corn syrup or soybean oil (yuck). You may end up baking your own bread (Emeril Lagasse has a really good recipe for Italian bread here) or try checking out your local bakery and picking their brain about the ingredients they use.

Sauté the celery and onion in the butter for a few minutes. Add everything else to that mixture. Then stick the mixture inside the turkey, or into a greased casserole dish and bake until browned and crispy, about 25-30 minutes.

Wait a minute, who decided stuffing required bread? Check out this site for 12 unusual and bread-less stuffing recipes!

Green Bean Casserole

Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, frozen green beans and those delicious, crunchy French’s onions. YUM but GROSS. Check these ingredients:

Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup: WATER, MUSHROOMS, VEGETABLE OIL (CORN, COTTONSEED, CANOLA, AND/OR SOYBEAN), MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, WHEAT FLOUR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: SALT, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, DEHYDRATED CREAM (CREAM [MILK], SOY LECITHIN), YEAST EXTRACT, FLAVORING, DEHYDRATED GARLIC

Here’s some of the ingredients in French’s Crispy Onions: Palm Oil, Wheat Flour, Onions, Soy Flour, Salt, Dextrose, TBHQ, Citric Acid, Propylene Glycol

YIKES, you guys. Lets stick to homemade.

The good news with this one: you can make it your own. I found a great recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from the awesome Alton Brown version. You can use gluten-free flour and bread crumbs if needed.  Definitely skip the canola oil, as well. I fry things in olive oil with generally good results but you may have to do a little research to find out which oil you like the best. You can also use dairy-free alternatives when making the mushroom sauce. Like I said, make it your own and don’t be afraid to fail in the kitchen!

Cranberry Sauce:

Check out this awesome and super easy recipe from the gracious pantry! Most recipes and canned variety are stacked full of sugar but this one uses honey or maple syrup. You can also substitute the water with pineapple or orange juice for a sweeter variety!

I covered the basics for Thanksgiving sides. Are there anymore you would like some suggestions on? Just leave a comment below.

When you’re embarking on a (somewhat) healthy thanksgiving, remember the basics: If you’re going to someone else’s house, bring a healthy dish like one listed above. Eat food that’s really food, not stuff from a box. If you’re the chef, don’t get overwhelmed. Prepare some items the night before and have a game plan for cooking.

DRINKS AND DESSERT

Lots of people will be drinking beer on Thanksgiving. Drinking beer and watching football. We’re ok with that. The reason we’re ok with that is because Thanksgiving is a holiday full of family traditions and if beer and football happen to be a part of that, then who are we to say otherwise? If you are, however, trying to be a little more health-minded this Turkey Day, here are some drink alternatives and what we think about them:

Hard ciders: These can be good and bad. Good because they’re so freaking delicious and bad because they can have a sky high devil-sugar content. When you’re shopping for cider the most important thing you can look for is sugar content. Most people turn to ciders for a gluten-free option, but the reason we practice a gluten-free lifestyle in the first place is to cut down on sugar! Don’t replace one sugar with another! Purchase the cider with the lowest sugar content.

Wine: Reds are the best, and we prefer organic wine with no added sulfites. You could spend years trying to pick out a wine in the sea of creative labels but just try your best! Wine trumps beer and cider, in our opinion.

Other alcoholic beverages: You can find a million fall-themed drinks on pinterest. The important thing to remember is to keep the sugar at a minimum. Only prepare drink recipes with real ingredients and limited sugar. Apple sangria, anyone? Ok, yes, literally everything in this recipe is sugar BUT at least its stuff we recognize.

For the little ones and folks who aren’t indulging in alcohol, keep it simple. Apple cider, water, maybe a cranberry juice cocktail. Soda is gross, don’t serve it at your Thanksgiving dinner…plain and simple.

Now for the desert:

Our go-to for desert is always fruit. You can order one of those cute fruit bouquets or get creative and make one yourself.  For those of you with more of a sweet tooth, check out these four easy and yummy desserts from fitfoodiefinds.com. Can’t say no to grandma’s homemade pie, huh? It’s ok. Don’t stress. Have a skinny slice and make sure your siblings take all the leftovers.

That’s it! I hope you embark on your Turkey Day journey with the best intentions in mind. Let’s try to get back to REAL food. Set and example. Be a trend setter. You’re a queen and I’m grateful that there are women in the work that are embracing true wellness.

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