Thanksgiving - Eat to Digest and Enjoy!
If you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast and still want to maintain proper digestion why not try this experiment in food combining and see how your family responds physically, mentally, and emotionally. You may find you enjoy the change in custom given the positive health changes you note during the day, and you just may start a new tradition!
Breakfast: Pumpkin Pie. Yes, that’s right. YOU GET TO HAVE PIE FOR BREAKFAST!
- Pumpkin pie - Try baking a crust-less pie if gluten/nut/seed sensitive, or make a chopped spiced pumpkin seed crust to make use of the whole food. Enjoy it topped with whipped raw cream or homemade crème fraiche if you can tolerate dairy. Coconut cream whipped until frothy with a bit of cinnamon also makes a tasty pie topping. There’s likely some sugar in the pie, but also lots of fiber and fat to slow the digestion of the carbohydrates and help moderate the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene, a potent antioxidant and precursor to making Vitamin A in the body, so be sure to eat your pie with fat to ensure best assimilation of this fat soluble nutrient.
- Sip a fresh grated ginger tea to aid digestion, stimulate metabolism, and create warmth in the body.
Now, take a walk in the park, play on the swings, have a game of catch -- be active and play!
Starches Together with Quality Fats: Because traditional Thanksgiving dinners include these starchy carbohydrates, eat moderate quantities and be sure to fully chew each bite to enjoy their savory flavor and ensure you are activating salivary amylase for best digestion. Adding healthy fats helps regulate the glucose effect of these starches, promotes assimilation of the beta carotenes, and contributes to the satiation of the dish despite smaller portions. Sip a small cup of warmed bone broth with this portion of the meal to provide some additional amino acids and fatty acids for nutrient balance, but without putting the strain of flesh protein digestion on the digestive system.
- Yams/Sweet Potatoes - Experiment with fresh savory herbs like rosemary and thyme, or add ginger and allspice with a squeeze of fresh orange for a new take on this traditional side dish. Roast them tossed in coconut oil and sea salt. Serve with an added healthy fat like butter/ghee or coconut oil. No marshmallows or added sugar please, that’s an insult to the yam.
- Mashed potatoes and flourless gravy - a reduction sauce made with the turkey drippings, wine or vinegar, and a little broth has so much more flavor than the typical flour gravy! Just say no to lumps. Add small amounts of finely diced cooked turkey organ meats to provide a bit of protein but not too much to compromise digestion while enjoying the starches.
- Stuffing - You could skip this side dish this year since you’ll already be enjoying the potato starches, but if you just can’t live without stuffing or are avoiding nightshades like potatoes, make a stuffing that could be a meal in itself. Try a wild rice, millet or quinoa stuffing which incorporates a few nuts or seeds, some fresh or dried fruit, and lots of fresh herbs and spices. Serve it with the reduction sauce as mentioned above. There are so many great recipes out there beyond the typical bread crumb style that Grandma/Mom/Auntie always made every year, it’s a shame we don’t step outside this box more often. Your gluten sensitive, non-bloated stomach and clear-headed brain will thank you for making this switch.
- Bone broth: use a chicken or beef broth you’ve made previously, or perhaps a mineral-rich vegetable stock made with added sea vegetable. Keep broth warmed on the stove or in a crock pot with a ladle for ease of serving, serve in tall mugs with a sprig of rosemary as a garnish.
Now don’t just sit around and watch football, play a game yourself with your family and guests. If it’s too cold for touch football, play charades, take turns around a table telling jokes or funny stories, play cards or a board game, put together a puzzle, play music. Activate your minds, exercise with laughter!
What’s next?…Take a nap. Cuddle with the baby, your beloved, your pets or your pillow. It’s a holiday, enjoy the time to rest and relax a bit! How often do you indulge yourself in a nap on a Thursday afternoon?
Set a beautiful table, darken the dining room, light the beeswax candle, turn off the football game in the background, give thanks for the meal and time together.
Protein and Low-Glycemic, Non-Starchy Vegetables
- Turkey - excellent source of complete protein and widely known as a food high in tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin which regulates appetite, sleep patterns and elevated mood. Turkey is also is a very good source of immune-supportive selenium and zinc, heart-healthy niacin and vitamin B6, energy-enhancing phosphorus, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Start the meal with RACV in lukewarm water to stimulate protein digestion, and really encourage chewing of this protein food.
- Green Beans/Brussels Sprouts/Collard Greens/Spinach/Swiss Chard - get the idea? Green, green, or green vegetables healthfully prepared with herbs, spices and a quality oil. The phytonutrition in green vegetables provides antioxidants and alkalizing buffers against the more acidic byproducts of turkey digestion. Pair these low-glycemic, non-starchy, green vegetables with the flesh protein of turkey (and perhaps some bacon in those Brussels sprouts), and you will avoid the sluggish digestion and sleepiness typically attributed to the turkey (and the tryptophan). When combined with a slower to digest flesh protein like turkey, starchy carbohydrates s ferment quickly in the stomach causing gas, bloating, flatulence and fatigue. Avoid your brother’s foul smelling antics by removing the starches from the dinner meal.
- Green salad with homemade dressing - add some more color, nutrition and crunch to the salad with other vegetables in the non-starchy category, and perhaps some soaked nuts or seeds. Make your own dressing from healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, hemp oil, pumpkin seed oil in combination. Add a fig flavored vinegar for a seasonal addition, use fresh herbs and spices to round out the flavors to suit your palate. Salad dressing mastery is easy, start with a basic vinaigrette recipe and just keep experimenting with additional flavors you like. Dressings are a great place to ‘hide’ supplemental essential fatty acids including cod liver oil. It takes just minutes to whisk together a great salad dressing, just be sure to use oils that are fresh and have not turned rancid.
- Sip herbal or green tea, a glass of organic red wine, warm water with ginger and lemon, but please, no sparkling ciders, sodas, or champagne. You’re digestion will be better off without those carbonated beverages, despite how festive they might appear.
Clean up the dishes, take a stroll around the neighborhood in the cool evening air, and return home to read a book aloud, watch a great movie, or finish the puzzle. You should be satiated, contentedly full but not stuffed, and thankfully relaxed. You started the day with dessert, which is special enough, but if you must have more pie, wait 2 hours for your stomach to fully empty. By then you’ll likely forget about that second piece of pie…until breakfast Friday morning!
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!
Diane McAllister, NTP, HHP, Certified GAPS Practitioner