A Nourishing Holiday Feast
by Bronwyn Deiter
The scent of a Christmas ham and candied sweet potatoes, or Grandma’s pumpkin pie: ah, who doesn’t love a great holiday feast? Yet if you’ve revamped your diet around whole, nutrient-dense foods, you may think of the holidays with angst. How will you survive the feasting and social etiquette while navigating your own nutritional preferences or allergens? Take heart, because we have some tips which should keep you jolly!
Take a Dish (or Three)
If you are lucky enough to be invited to feast with friends or family, graciously offer to help out the hostess by bringing some sides and dessert. Offer to make whole-food versions of the usual (often refined) holiday fare. This way, you’ll be sure to have some foods with which to fill your plate. A crockpot is a great way to take hot sides, and a homemade pie will forever endear you to your hosts.
If you have specific allergens which you avoid, such as gluten, dairy, or sugar, remember to bring substitutes for those parts of the meal, or assure your hostess beforehand that you prefer to go without. Be specific with her about what you can and can’t have, but by offering to do the extra work in bringing a gluten-free pie or gravy, dairy-free mashed potatoes, or honey-sweetened cranberry sauce, you’ll enjoy the meal more and put yourself in the running for a repeat invitation next year.
There’s no better way to control the food choices than simply making it all yourself. Gourmet cooks know that whole, fresh food is the best food, so your guests should be just as delighted with the meal as you are.
The Main Course
Traditionally, the star of the table is a golden turkey, glazed ham, or tender prime rib roast. If sourced from farms which follow natural methods of animal husbandry where the animal is uncaged and grass fed, then turkey, ham, and beef are excellent, nourishing centers to the meal. Contact your local chapter leader of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) for referrals to local farms which offer animals raised in this manner.
In many parts of the country, cage-free grass fed turkeys go for $4-$6 a pound, so a hefty gobbler could set you back $100 or so. But before you decide to simply turn vegetarian, consider that one bird will supply excellent protein in many meals beyond the holiday table: turkey meat not eaten immediately can be frozen and later used in soups and casseroles. The carcass itself can be stewed for many quarts of excellent, gelatin-rich broth. Just remember that most farm-fresh turkeys must be reserved months in advance of the holiday.
Roasted Pastured Turkey
- Set oven to 425, with rack at lowest level.
- Rinse fresh or thawed turkey in a large sink, and remove head at base of neck, and feet if still attached. (Save these parts for stewing later with the carcass for bone broth.) Pat turkey dry with paper towels, and place breast upward into a large roasting pan with a rack.
- Spread ½ cup softened grassfed butter over the skin of the turkey, and sprinkle evenly with 2 Tb organic poultry seasoning (with sage), 1 tsp crushed rosemary, and 1 tsp coarse sea salt. Next, insert 1 TB of coarse sea salt and 2 TB of natural poultry seasoning into the cavity of the bird, coating the interior as best you can.
- Place bird into preheated oven, and check after 30 minutes for browned skin. Once golden brown, reduce heat to 350 and tent with aluminum foil to prevent further browning.
- The total length of time for roasting your bird depends upon the total weight: check a turkey roasting chart, but assume about 20 minutes for each pound of weight. It will be finished when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast meat, not touching bone, registers at 165 degrees.
- Once roasting is completed, remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. During this time, the gravy may be made from the drippings in the roasting pan.
Gluten-Free Pastured Turkey Gravy
- If giblets have been included with your turkey, simmer them over low heat with 1 cup water for 30 minutes. Retain the flavorful water, allowing it to cool. (The giblets may be discarded, or reserved for later broth-making.)
- When the turkey has been removed from the oven, ladle the drippings from the bottom of the pan into the saucepan with the giblet broth.
- In a glass jar with tight fitting lid, combine 1 cup of poultry broth and 1/4 cup potato flour. Secure lid and shake vigorously until smooth.
- Add potato flour slurry to the drippings mixture on the stove, whisking over medium heat until large bubbles form. The gravy should thicken after about 1 minute of simmering, but if not, add another cup of broth/potato flour mixture and simmer again. Check for seasoning, adding sea salt as needed.
Nourishing Side Dishes
Your meal becomes a feast through a dazzling display of delectable side dishes. Nutrient rich ingredients like fresh vegetables, bone broth, mineral salt, grassfed butter, pungent herbs, and essential oils amp up the flavors as well as nourish body and soul.
Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes
Wash and remove large eyes from 3 lbs of red potatoes. Cover with water in a large pot, add 6 peeled cloves of garlic, and bring to a boil. When fork-soft, about 20 minutes, drain off water, and mash with a potato masher. Add 1 stick of grassfed butter, 4 oz. of cream cheese, 2 TB minced fresh chives, and about 1 tsp salt. Cover pot for 1 minute to allow butter and cream cheese to soften. Whip with electric beaters until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. This is an excellent dish to make early in the day and keep warm in a crockpot.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Elderberry Glaze
Heat oven to 450. Rinse and trim 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts. Place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Toss in about 3 TB melted coconut oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in hot oven until edges brown, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Centers should be fork tender. When finished, remove from oven, and toss in 3 Tb elderberry syrup or other dark jam or preserve. Return to oven to 3 minutes to glaze. Serve hot.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Candied Pecans
This is an excellent dish to make a day in advance, and then reheat (in a separate oven from the turkey). Rinse and trim 3 lbs of sweet potatoes. Place on foil (for easy cleanup) in a glass roasting pan and bake at 400 until soft, about 1 hour. Remove from oven; allow to cool a bit before removing skins. Place peeled pulp in food processor in batches and purée until smooth. Transfer into a large mixing bowl and add ½ cup raw honey, ½ cup organic coconut oil, and 1 tsp sea salt. Using a hand mixer, blend until smooth. Spread into a 9X13 glass baking pan which has been greased with coconut oil. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 Tb coconut oil, 1 tsp sea salt, and ¼ cup raw honey. When it begins to bubble, add 1 cup whole pecans, and saute the nuts in the syrup for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and using a fork, transfer the candied nuts as a garnish for the top of the sweet potato casserole.
Wild Rice Stuffing
True wild rice is black and is not a rice at all but rather the seed of marsh grass native to North America. It is often mixed with true rice grains for “wild rice mix” but can also be found alone. Although often more expensive than true rice, wild rice expands three to four times its original size when it is cooked, so one pound of wild rice is enough to provide up to thirty-five servings.
In this grain-free stuffing, wild rice takes center stage: enjoy its pungent, slightly smoky flavor alongside the earthy flavors of mushroom and celery and sweetness of onion and dried cranberries.
1 cup wild rice
2 cups water
2 cups poultry bone broth
1 tsp sea salt
2 TB organic poultry seasoning which includes sage
1 TB organic dried parsley
1 large sweet onion, chopped into small pieces
3 large stalks celery, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 cup (divided) grassfed butter
8oz crimini mushrooms, cleaned and halved
½ cup dried cranberries
In a large kettle, cover wild rice with 3 inches of water and allow to soak overnight. In the morning, pour off soaking water and add 2 cups fresh water, 2 cups bone broth, and 1 tsp sea salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until tender and liquid is absorbed. In the meantime, sauté the onion, celery and ¼ cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat until edges begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove to a covered dish. Without cleaning the skillet, add the other ¼ cup butter and sauté the mushrooms, also until just caramelized.
When wild rice has finished cooking, add onions, celery, and mushrooms, stirring gently to combine. Add additional ½ cup butter to skillet, melt over medium heat, scraping pan until it releases vegetable fragments. If butter is unsalted, add about 1 tsp sea salt, then pour over stuffing in kettle. Stir in dried cranberries. Serve hot, in either a dish or inside a display turkey.
Pumpkin Pie with Cassia Whipped Cream (Grain, Gluten, and Refined Sugar Free)
Preheat oven to 425. Prepare crust, then prepare filling.
1 packed cup blanched almond flour
1 Tb coconut flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
2 Tb soft butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 small egg
1/8-1/4 cup honey
Blend just till smooth. Press into a greased pie plate, using plastic wrap to help spread crust smoothly on bottom and sides. Peel plastic wrap out and set aside crust.
2 cups of pumpkin pulp purée from a sugar pumpkin*
1½ cups organic heavy whipping cream
¾ cup raw honey
1 dropperful of Vanilla Stevia
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg (or 2 duck eggs)
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 drops lemon essential oil
Mix honey, stevia, salt, spices, and lemon oil in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir in the pumpkin purée and cream. Whisk until well incorporated.
Pour into prepared crust and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350°F. Bake 40-50 minutes longer, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. The pumpkin pie will come out of the oven all puffed up and will deflate as it cools. The pie may be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator until serving with whipped cream.
Cassia Whipped Cream
Empty 1 pint of heavy whipping cream into a small metal bowl which has been placed in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Whip with beaters. When peaks have just begun to form, add 5 drops of Cassia essential oil. Keep refrigerated until serving.
*To make pumpkin purée: cut small/medium sugar pumpkin in half, then scrape out and discard the insides. Lay the cut sides down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake at 350°F until fork tender, about 60-90 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool. Scoop out the pulp and purée in a food processor.
Poultry Bone Broth
After the feasting is over, take a few minutes to get a batch of bone broth simmering. Bone broth is rich in gelatin and minerals.
Remove all desired meat from turkey carcass; set aside for later meals. If it is a large bird, you will need to break the carcass in half and do two batches. Place half of the carcass into a large crockpot, and cover with filtered water. Cut an organic lemon in half, squeeze juice into the pot, and place both halves in the pot (rind and all).
Turn crockpot to high; after an hour, reduce to low setting. Simmer broth for 24-48 hours, then strain the broth into glass jars, leaving at least 1.5 inches of space at the top. Top with lids and refrigerate jars of broth, then move to freezer. (I have found that canning jars tend to break in the freezer, but glass jars from prepared foods such as pickles or marinara do not.) To use, thaw broth in refrigerator for 1 day before using.
Bronwyn Deiter is a happy wife to Heiko, and home schooling mother of their six children. In her spare time (bwahahaha!) she is a wellness coach and shares her passion for healthy living on her blog: cleangreenstart.com.