A Mindful Thanksgiving

Amidst my "happy thanksgiving" text messaging frenzy yesterday, my fellow dietetic buddy Gigi K. wished me a happy turkey day and reminded me to "eat mindfully." As much it was intended to be a dietetic quip, it's a powerful reminder not only in the realm of healthful eating but also with ingredients selection.

Yes, the antibiotic and hormone-free turkey cost me a pretty penny, but I felt more at peace knowing the turkey was treated with some respect before it ended up on my dinner table. Also, the plethora of veggies used to make the dinner cuts down on the environmental impact that would otherwise incur with raising animals for consumption. Not only is it important to be mindful of our satiety cues, it's equally imperative to be mindful of the food's origin so proper thanks can be given to Mother Nature and those who had a hand in growing and harvesting for our feasts.

Crouton Stuffing with Carrots

Curried Pumpkin Bisque
Pumpkin is the poster child of autumn and is a must-have for this holiday. Instead of having it in a pie form, I opted to use it in a savory dish. At the request of my parentals, my curried pumpkin bisque was born.

The beans are key in this soup to achieve a thick and creamy consistency without using cream or milk. An immersion blender is the perfect tool to blend the bisque right in the pot.

1 can each of pumpkin puree and cannelini beans yielded 4 servings. And each serving boasts an impressive 12.25 grams of fiber! Considering that the recommended intake is 20 to 35 grams per day, the fiber punch that this soup packs is truly remarkable.

The ingredients list:

Canned pumpkin puree | Cannelini beans | Chicken broth | Onion | Nutmeg | Chives | Thai red curry sauce (not pictured) 

Pancetta Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts alone aren't all that exciting. But they're easily transformed when jazzed up with something exquisite... like pancetta

The slab of pancetta from Whole Foods was definitely a splurge (calorically and monetarily) but it was so worth it! The pepper used to cured it wasn't overwhelming, and it wasn't overseasoned like many cured meats out there. 

First, dice and brown pancetta over medium heat to cook the fat out. Have patience and let it do its thing for 5 to 7 minutes. 

Meanwhile, blanch the sprouts and shock them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and retain color. Drain them well and lay them in a casserole dish. Add pancetta (without the released fat) and toss gently. Crisp them up under the broiler, checking on them periodically to avoid charring. 

The ingredients list:
Brussels sprouts | Pancetta (pictured: Fra' Mani

Turkey Roulade

For me, a big ol' turkey isn't only daunting to cook, but it's also daunting to dig into. I get full just by looking at the poor bird in its entirety. So my way of incorporating turkey into the day is with my turkey roulade.

Start with a hunk of antibiotic-free and hormone-free boneless turkey breast. Butterfly the thicker parts to even out the thickness (and hence cooking time). Brine it overnight with a salt water solution or apple juice diluted with water (1:1). Drain off liquids in the morning and spice with dried thyme and pepper. 

Right before cooking, roll in your favorite stuffing with the turkey. Roll tightly and tie snuggly (click to see example) with kitchen string (which I forgot for a second year in a row). This will help with presentation and more efficient cooking.

Sear on the stove top and finish off in the oven with an aluminum foil "tent" to prevent drying out the poultry. Turkey is done when internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ingredients list:
Boneless turkey breast | Stuffing of your choice | Dried thyme | Pepper 

Apple Pear Crisp
I'm not sure what compelled me to bake something for dessert because I cannot follow a recipe for the life of me. I'm always substituting ingredients and adding ingredients as I go along. And when it comes to baking, all of those are major faux pas

The idea for an apple and pear crisp was good but my execution failed with the less-than-crispy bottom and the super crumbly top.

The saving grace of this dish are the sliced apples and d'anjou pears cooked in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Heck, I should have just served bowlfuls of the cooked fruit as dessert!

The ingredients list:
Granny Smith apple | D'anjou pears | Butter | Cinnamon | Nutmeg | Cornstarch | Rolled oats | Whole wheat flour | Salt | Baking powder | Greek yogurt 


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