Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. So much so that I host a FriendsGiving in addition to attending my family’s Thanksgiving. The joy of sharing a meal with my favorite people (twice) without the pressure of gifts is heaven on earth.
For our Balance 360 families, we have a new set of challenges because not only are we are eating cleanly, we are also excluding gluten, dairy and refined sugar. This will knock many traditional recipes off the menu. Fear not: I have several delicious recipes as well as some guidance for this holiday and others. We can be successful, together!
Whether you are hosting or attending, decisions will have to be made. Will you follow the Balance 360 guidelines 100%? Will you allow your family to have some non-Balance 360 foods? We do not have to be perfect to be successful with Brain Balance, but I do encourage you to be deliberate in your decisions.
As we cruise towards a season of indulgences, think about what your goals for your family are. Discuss it together and decide what "moderation" is going to mean in your home. It may look different than your neighbor or other Brain Balance families, and that it ok. I would strongly encourage you to have a concrete expectation so that you and your family are not on cruise control.
When modifying recipes to meet Balance 360 protocol, a substitute can sometimes make a really similar foods as the gluten or dairy containing original. My Pumpkin Pie filling is creamy dreamy and dairy free. Sometimes they’re not close at all. Instead of attempting an alternative to a traditional wheat crust, I instead made one that is like granola. It was unique, crumbly like a graham cracker crust and really delicious!
If your thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete with one certain food or recipe, I suggest you work on your Balance 360 version ahead of time. That way you can be confident on the big day! I also suggest bringing cards so that every’s dish can be labeled. No need to guess the ingredients! Finally, I would encourage you and your children to role-play. “What will you say if your Aunt puts her famous chocolate chip cookies right onto your plate?”. You all will decide what the right answer is so that your child can be confident in her actions on that day - you’ve already prepared her!
Consider who you’ll be sharing the Thanksgiving holiday with and plan ahead. Is there anyone with whom you should have a chat ahead of time? Try to anticipate possible snags and have solutions in mind so that the holiday can be as relaxing as possible. Remind your relatives that very simple swaps can make many dishes Balance 360 approved - sauteing green beans in olive oil instead of butter means everyone can enjoy them. Leaving the cheese on the side allows the Balance 360 folks to eat that salad, too!
Remember that we have so much to be thankful for and that this wonderful holiday is more than the food. Enjoy the laughter and jokes, the football and games and the constructive time to enjoy your many blessings.
Peel, cube and boil sweet potatoes until tender. If you cut the cubes small enough (1 ½” to 2”) they shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Drain potatoes.
Add the non-dairy butter, vanilla, non-dairy milk, egg and syrup to potatoes and mash/mix together with a potato masher, fork or you an electric mixer.
Transfer mashed potato mixture to a square casserole dish.
Mix together the pecans and gluten-free flour for the topping. Melt the non-dairy butter and syrup together and stir into the pecan mixture.
Evenly spread pecan topping on top of the potatoes in casserole dish. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until bubbly.
Kale and Apple Salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon salt
6 cups torn kale leaves, big ribs removed and discarded
½ an apple, cut into thin, 1- inch pieces (I went with Honey Crisp, but Gala would be good as well)
⅓ cup walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted
In a small jar, combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Secure the lid and shake vigorously to combine.
Place the kale leaves into a large salad bowl and, using your hands, sort of massage the olive oil mixture into the leaves.
Throw the apples and walnuts on top of the kale and lightly toss to combine.
Pumpkin Almond Butter
1 cup creamy unsalted almond butter
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a medium mixing bowl, add almond butter and fold in pumpkin, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice and salt until combined.
Pumpkin Pie with Granola Crust
1 cup walnuts
1 cup gluten-free oats
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 can pumpkin puree
1 package silken tofu (10 or 12 ounces)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie dish with coconut oil.
In a food processor, pulse walnuts, gluten-free oats. coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt to combine.
In a food processor, pulse walnuts, gluten-free oats. coconut oil, brown sugar, and salt to combine. Bake empty crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Turn the oven temperature up to 400 degrees.
In the meantime, in a blender or food processor, add pumpkin, tofu, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, syrup, and cornstarch. Blend to combine until smooth.
Pour pumpkin filling into pie dish. Bake for 60 minutes.
Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
1 can full-fat coconut milk
Optional: 1 teaspoon maple syrup to sweeten
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Store the can of coconut milk, upside down, in the fridge overnight.
Open the can of coconut milk and discard the semi-clear liquid that's sitting at the top Depending on the brand, you may be left with hardened cream or thick white milk. Add that to the mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip until stiff peaks begin to form (about 5 minutes).
Optional: Add maple syrup to sweeten and/or vanilla and whip to combine.
Cinnamon Apple Crisp
3 cups chopped apples (peeled and cored). a combination of varieties works best