With just a couple more weeks until my home is full of family for our Thanksgiving feast, my menu plans are finalized! The turkey is ordered, my family is bringing different dishes, and the floor plan for seating 22 people is done!
One dish I knew I wanted to make myself was the stuffing. When we hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner, I made a from-scratch stuffing that tasted so good! It was just as good as the boxed stuff, but I liked knowing exactly what was going into the dish–real food that I prepared myself! That recipe was the starting point for my stuffing plans this year.
In 2011, I made this Sausage and Bread Stuffing from Food and Wine magazine. I’m making this recipe again this year, but with a few changes. First, I’m using whole wheat bread instead of white, and I will reduce the amount of bread by 1/3 or 1/2 to lower the carb content and get some whole grains in there. I’ll also be using coconut oil instead of butter, and I’ll reduce that amount by at least half. I know it tastes good, but a whole stick of butter? Who am I, Paula Deen? Yikes. Coconut oil isn’t lower in calories, but it has more health benefits than butter. Finally, I will use chicken sausage instead of pork sausage to lower the fat content (and because I couldn’t find turkey sausage at my grocery!).
In addition to this traditional stuffing, I’m going to make a Paleo stuffing to have a bread free option. I found a good Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe from the popular Paleo blog PaleOMG, which gets great reviews, making me more comfortable using this recipe before making a test batch first. What makes it Paleo? The only difference I see between the two recipes is the Paleo recipe has sweet potato instead of bread, has egg as a binder, has some fruit in cranberries and apple, and adds bacon and pecans. The flavor profiles will be very similar between the two recipes. I’ll use chicken sausage for this recipe too, to lower the fat content a bit.
You might be wondering–why do you need a Paleo stuffing option? The quick answer is, you don’t. I just want one. Thanksgiving will be a cheat day, but I’m not planning on gaining 5 lbs of bloat in one meal. One way to combat that is to reduce the carbs I eat. I know for sure that I’ll be having dessert (more on that next week!), and I would rather have dessert than bread in my stuffing, you know? A Paleo recipe ensures whole foods, no bread, and some extra veggies. There are no weird ingredients that wouldn’t be in a non-Paleo recipe, so I feel comfortable offering it as an option for my family, whether they are concerned about their eating that day or not.
One final word–why not just use boxed stuffing? It’s faster and it tastes pretty similar to what I’m making, so what’s the deal with that? There are two main reasons for me–one is that I genuinely enjoy cooking, and I would rather make my own stuffing than mix it from a box. I just enjoy it! The second reason is that I’m really focusing on making my dishes whole, real foods. They may not be “healthy” per se, but I want to know exactly what’s in them and control elements like salt content. I don’t want to eat preservatives or weird, synthetic ingredients, and I’m not serving it to my family, either! I don’t really have anything against boxed stuffing (we’ve had it every year!), but I want this year to be different as I focus on my health.
What is one dish you can focus on making healthier this year?
Missed part one of my Thanksgiving series? Check it out here.