I can’t believe we did the Whole Thing! Yes, we really cooked up a storm of diabetic friendly food for Thanksgiving and have had plenty to last us until now, in infinite variations. What we made has been used for 56 multi-course meals, for 3 adults, beyond actual Thanksgiving, so far, after everyone else went home with a little extra, too.
Obviously, I made more dishes than I mentioned on my projected menu to you last time, as I have “picky” eaters, so needed more choices. As the food was SO expensive, I did not want to leave any loose ends, in case you want to use any of these diabetic recipes I mentioned for your Holiday Entertaining at Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or New Year’s Eve. And as regular readers, you will want to know some of the diabetic adaptations I made in the published recipes from last week. So, here goes, a few recipes at a time. By the way, if you want to see the photographs better, after the “Snap” machine registers them for you, then go back and double-click on the originals on this page and they will enlarge on a new page so you can see the details.
I definitely believe that all foods fit into a diabetic diet plan; it’s a matter of portion control. But, obviously, you can make it easier on yourself if you start with diabetes friendly recipes in the first place. Most recipes are not diabetic friendly and I will NOT use artificial ingredients to make them so, but I have my own “tricks”. You’ll find the links to the recipes by using the URL for Part 2, below in the Reference section.
GINGER BEER // GINGER SANGRIA:
We’ll start out with my recipe review of Martha Stewart’s Ginger Beer (see the photos above). Ginger is used as a potent anti-inflammatory to help body-wide and it is also a digestive, to settle your stomach (that’s why I chose it to be our meal’s main beverage). Firstly, this Ginger Sangria does taste delicious. She stated it was “strong”, but it’s fiendish! This recipe does NOT need to be this concentrated. And, it didn’t help that I had to leave it steep extra time, as I got caught not being able to tend to it. So, I set about diluting it.
Luckily, I had only made a half-recipe to begin with (I’m glad I did because with diluting it, I’ve had plenty for days and days!). The 1 pound of ginger cost $7.00 and there was NO way that I was going to “discard” the solids! I froze the grated, used ginger into ice-cube trays and then into plastic freezer bags. I’ve already used it again in several recipes this week and for Thanksgiving and it’s still got plenty of “kick”!
I used only half of the sugar Martha wanted (see the bag of natural sugar above in photo) and compensated for the unused sugar by using about 5/8C of agave nectar (I bought the Blue Agave nectar at Trader Joe’s this time). Next time, I would add only agave (about 1 1/4 cups) and do it after the ginger beer had cooled. I’d only add sugar then, if needed, in case the agave’s flavor alone is too delicate.
I used some of the Santa Cruz organic lime juice that I bought, but nowhere near the 3/4C she mentioned. I had put in the juice of some fresh lemon and lime, but that should not have made the difference. The finely-sliced fresh fruit made it more festive, even though I did not pour any into the glasses, as you can see from the photos above.
Three of my family are on Zantac and I found that this beverage DID settle their stomachs and they had no problems with a richer holiday meal than we are used to. So, the Ginger Beer did its job, but only after I diluted it with 2 bottles of mild Thomas Kemper Ginger Ale in my half-recipe and a little 7-Up as it was served (some people needed as much as half a glass of 7-up, which is a lemon-lime flavored soda beverage, for readers outside the USA).
Next time, I will just use half the ginger, i.e. reducing it yet again to only 1/2 pound but in the same 1/2 gallon of spring water, and steep it for the normal hour (tasting it before I remove the ginger solids, letting it steep more if it needs more flavor). I think that will work out OK and not require the 7-Up.
DIABETIC GINGER-“PUMPKIN”-PEAR SOUP
This soup was wonderful! I made it with canned, no-sugar added, organic Farmer’s Market sweet potato puree instead of pumpkin, simply because I had it already. I also used 1 small carton of frozen, no-sugar, Cascadian Farm Organic Winter Squash.
Pumpkin, yellow squashes and sweet potatoes all contain beta-carotene, a pre-cursor of Vitamin A, which is needed for your eyes, and diabetics need to protect their eyes! Try to include deep yellow vegetables in most meals, daily.
For spices, before I froze the cooked, grated ginger for my Ginger Beer above, I used 1 Tablespoon in this soup. That was all it needed instead of the 2T the recipe wanted. Err on the side of caution when you are cooking for lots of people of different ages etc. It’s better to back-off on spicing and let adventurous people “add some” than to put in too much from the beginning, especially when you want children to eat the food.
When my husband did the shopping, he couldn’t find the requested “pear nectar” at any of the super-markets. I used to see it years ago in slim, tall cans, but we substituted 1 can of pears in-their-own-juice (whizzing it in the blender and then adding the 1/3C organic creamy peanut butter from Trader Joe’s into the blender too, at the same time). That worked out well. I did not use the green onion, but put a sprinkle of chives on as a garnish. I used 1 carton of organic, free-range chicken broth (32 oz. size) and into another (just until desired consistency was found). I did not use the equivalent of the (3) 14 oz. cans asked for, and I used unsalted broth.
Add sea salt, to taste, when the soup is done. I only used 1/24 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in the soup, and it was enough for my family (but I added more for myself).
Originally, this called for 10 half-cup portions. That’s ridiculous. I wanted people to “fill up” on the soup and salad courses, then the turkey, then and only then the “sides” and “dessert”. My strategy for staging the courses, as well as portion-control, went a long-way to helping this richer meal still be glycemic index friendly. So, I used the soup for 6 portions. I would definitely make this again for a special meal.
LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX – ROMAINE LETTUCE, MICROGREENS AND FRUIT AMBROSIA SALAD:
I love “Spring Mix” salad greens and “Field Greens” packaged salad mixes but my children are not adventurous about veggies even as they become 30-somethings! So, I used just wonderful, fresh Romaine Lettuce packaged salad and a tub of Micro-Greens sprouts from Trader Joe’s (snuck them in, and it worked). The sprouts gave much greater nutrition for no real change in taste. My kids will always eat romaine lettuce, and it’s a very healthy green.
I used the organic coconut flakes (but I let each person add their own, as they looked dismayed at the thought of coconut on salad — but everyone ate all of it, and our newest family member, age 36, had seconds).
Because several of my family are taking medications which do not allow them to eat grapefruit, I got grapefruit for me, and everyone else had papaya. That’s what you see on the photo. I used Del Monte fruit-in-glass-jars in the refrigerator case for both fresh fruits. It was delicious. I was breaking my usual rule of having fruit only at the beginning of a meal, then waiting 20 minutes before eating something else (it’s impossible to preserve digestive capacity using this technique at a Holiday Meal), so I chose fruits that would help digestion.
In my case, the grapefuit is a very alkaline fruit, and will help take the load of my pancreas to alkalinize my food in the stomach. I chose papaya for the same reason and also because it is filled with enzymes to help digest food (all family members taking Zantac used papaya). I offered 2 dressings and let people put on their own dressing. The healthy fats in the dressings will slow down the glycemic “hit” to your blood sugar levels for the whole meal.
Left-over fruits were combined with ice-cubes in the blender, later in the week, to make an instant sorbet / granita with no added sugar.
The actual plate.
.ORGANIC HERITAGE TURKEY AND SIDES:
First, my strategy with the turkey. We had planned to have the butcher segment this turkey into dark and light meat so that we could cook it different ways, on different days. But, that plan fell through when we arrived days late to pick-up our heritage turkey which always is surrounded in an ice blanket (but is not deep frozen).
So, on Thanksgiving Day, for the first time in a LONG time, my husband precarved the turkey into the cuts we wanted. It took 2 hours and we had to fastidiously clean-up the kitchen. I will NOT do this again, simply because of the clean-up. I will arrive early next year, as I usually do, and have them butcher it.
This is the second year that we have used a Diestel Organic, Free-range, Vegetarian-fed, Heritage Bronze Turkey and their flavor cannot be beat. They don’t need brining, as I usually have done with my previous regular Diestel or other brand turkeys.
This was the first time we wanted to experiment with partitioning the turkey. I wanted to do this so dark meat would be braised (as it should be, in order to be succulent and just fall off the bone) and the white meat could be roasted and eaten as needed.
My husband cut-off all the dark meat from back, thigh, legs and we set it aside to cook on two other days. I had already asked, and no-one wanted dark meat at Thanksgiving, so it would have been travesty to roast the whole bird and ruin the dark meat.
By cutting out the back-bone, my husband was able to get the breast to lay much flatter, after he also split the keelbone from underneath, without deboning it the whole way. With a bit of an arch, I supported the breast by tons of carrots and celery (no onions or garlic, as my daughter’s tummy was too queasy). And, with careful use of the skin, we made sure that most of the breast had protection from drying out.
I used a new recipe (not the ones posted last week). The wings, minus the tips, were also placed in the roasting dish. I used the “Roast Turkey Breast for a Small Gathering” recipe at www.globalgourmet.com/food/special/2006/thanksgiving/turkey-breast.html
www.globalgourmet.com/food/special/thanksgiving/index.html and I was pleased at the results.
Heritage turkeys need to be cooked at a much lower temperature (325F), and need to be watched carefully.
The olive oil, fresh: rosemary and thyme, lemon juice, sea salt, pepper and paprika (my idea) technique used in the recipe, under and on the skin was perfect and took me about 1/2 hour of work; you need 2 people to apply the marinade. I even “plumped up” the breast by placing veggies in the pocket under the skin so the bird looked quite usual. No-one missed seeing legs in the air!
I basted it with pan juices several more times and used the untouched, unused marinade in other dishes. There were not copious pan juices, but there were enough to keep the bird moist if basted about every 20 – 30 minutes, briefly. I placed the veggies and white meat sections in a low-sided Pyrex glass dish so that the heat could really penetrate the meat.
Many people place turkeys in too deep pans and the birds cook improperly. Use an instant read thermometer according to the instructions which come with your bird to make sure the turkey is cooked to the proper, safe temperature!
The breast and separate wings of what had been a 15 pound turkey, originally, was done in 2 hours and 10 minutes at 325 degrees F and I let it sit, tented in foil, for 1/2 hour before carving.
I had at least 6 recipes for this turkey, and I am satisfied I found a good one for the white meat which I am willing to make again. I used 2 other recipes for the dark meat, the next day and the day after – one for legs in an oven casserole, the other in the crockpot for the thighs (a lovely one to use over pasta, with black olives etc. which we will have tomorrow, after freezing it). The leg meat went into several incarnations after the first Bittman recipe. We used the deboned meat and veggies and additions to make a huge turkey pot pie.
All bones were roasted again, and made into stock, beginning on Day 2. We made several gallons of soup and had lots of already-roasted vegetables to add to it along with left-over sides which had already been served. Never-served “sides” portions had different destinations, or finally ended in soup, too.
WILD RICE AND ORGANIC BROWN BASMATI RICE WITH DRIED ORANGE-CRANBERRY PILAF:
This recipe went off easily because we used a rice cooker for it. The machine I have ascertained the timing needed for the wild rice, too, and then it stayed warm, until I needed it. I just threw everything into the rice cooker, way ahead of time, and it was perfect. My machine will keep the dish warm at a safe temperature for 6 hours, so this was a great choice to free-up my kitchen and tasks.
Everyone just took small amounts of sides, so they got refashioned into pot pie, stews, soup and more!
I chose this pilaf and the green bean “side” dish as they provide plenty of fiber, and fiber helps moderate the speed at which the meal is digested, so again, we help blood sugar levels avoid spiking.
But, this only works if you use a small portion of any dense carbohydrate like rice or potatoes or sweet potatoes / yams, squash. None of the sides were made with any sugar added. They had delicious, complex flavors from real spicing and fresh herbs and oils.
The Accordion Potatoes took about 10 minutes each to cut, carefully, very carefully. I stood on a stepstool to be able to see all sides and tried to keep about 1/3″ uncut along one strip on the very bottom.
I sliced all the way through a few times, but propped those poatoes up. It worked. I used my fingers to gently “pry” some of these potatoes open, here and there, after the cuts didn’t work as well. As long as I went slowly, that process was fine and worked better than just cutting. As you see in the photo, each potato ended up with its own character and degree of openess.
I had washed and dried the large, red potatoes (some weighed as much as half a pound) before I started cutting and I had my marinade ready to baste in between the slices with a brush (to keep the potatoes from browning, while I cut the remaining ones, and the oil mix helped to “crisp” the slices a little like french fries in the oven).
I placed all the oiled potatoes on a seperate sheet, along with the turkey breast, but now I know I have to start the potatoes earlier, as they did not get crispy enough (even though I raised the oven temperature after removing the cooked turkey).
In this home, we only have one large oven, (because I won’t use the microwave oven), but next time I may use the counter-top convection oven or Nesco oven which I have, too.
The potatoes were easily shared and most people didn’t want a whole potato, yet, as mashed potatoes, people eat many potatoes all-at-once without realising that!
I really wanted to avoid using mashed potatoes. This idea and the prep worked well, and was fun.
GREEN BEANS WITH LEMON:
This was an easy side, with lots of fiber, crunch, flavor and color. I used frozen Haricot Verts from Trader Joe’s and put them in my steamer while serving other stuff. They were done in a flash!
I will use more lemon, butter and parsley on the beans next time. I didn’t measure out the ingredients from the recipe, so it may be adequate, but I did not put on enough, in haste.
PEELED BUTTERNUT SQUASH CUBES:
I got these pre-peeled cubes at Trader Joe’s and put them in my steamer below the green beans’ tray. I ran the lower tier with the squash through for 10 minutes, alone, and then placed the upper tier on the machine with the green beans inside, just before they were needed.
I just used a little organic butter on the butternut, and everyone loved it.
Let each of the vegetables “speak”. They don’t need sugar on anything, and when each dish really has it’s own flavor, people are interested in trying a spoonful or two, which is all they really need. With plenty of fresh “sides”, people won’t pig-out. It’s actually interesting to watch each person moderate their portions according to appetite and personal preferences.
I also offered “more later”, i.e. take some home rather than over-eating now. I think that’s a good strategy.
I served the meal on the only part of my Royal Doulton “Larchmont” pattern that I have unpacked. I always use these plates at Thanksgiving, so it’s comforting to see them again (we were at my daughter’s last year). (That’s why some courses are photographed on other dishes this year!)
One of the reasons I use this Royal Doulton “Larchmont” china set, apart from the beautiful Autumn design, is the fact that they are rimmed dinner plates, and the actual food space is decreased by the rim area. They force people to eat a more moderate portion.
We received this dinner set from some of my mother’s family in Australia when we married 40 years ago next year. And, when we look at the sizes of the various china sets we have from the early years of our marriage, whether Royal Doulton, antique Dresden, Wedgewood, Noritake or Franciscan ware (from America), all of them are sized for smaller portions than the everyday sets that have been bought in the past 2 decades (although the American set, even back then, had the biggest pieces!).
Reduce portion size by using better-sized bowls, plates and cups! It’s a sneaky way, and if you get something “beautiful”, you’ll use them even more. Now, on to dessert.
PUMPKIN – RAISIN BREAD PUDDING:
This was a dessert chosen to replace Pumpkin Pie, as my daughter had been to her First Thanksgiving on Thursday, at her new family’s home, so I didn’t want to “repeat” traditional dishes on our Friday celebration. I wanted it to seem like a traditional, but DIFFERENT, meal.
My husband is the expert bread pudding maker, but this was far outside his usual comfort-zone. He was a good sport, and his own years of expertise were evident, even with different ingredients. I love his bread puddings, but eat very little. Usually everyone else is very happy to finish them off. My daughter took extra home for them.
There were 6 eggs in this pudding, so it helped raise the protein level. There were 5 cups of milk, so, ditto. We only used 3/4 C of agave nectar to sweeten the whole thing (but it was started with Trader Joe’s cinnamon bread, which probably was sweetened). The recipe was originally from Good Housekeeping as Pumpkin Raisin-Bread Pudding (but I found it at Delish.com).
We also used more vanilla and some sea salt (as my husband transferred his experience from one recipe to another — he always says “a tiny bit of salt makes things seem sweeter, so then you can use less sugary choices“).
This size bread pudding was meant to serve 14. I would say we used 14 – 16 servings. It needed to cook 2 1/2 hours at 350F in a 2 quart Pyrex Corningware lidded casserole, in a water-bath. Next time, I would add cinnamon, even to the very cinnamon bread. The whole pudding-thing uses up spices // flavors, like a big sponge.
I wanted a heavily cinnamon dessert as cinnamon helps diabetics.
CRANBERRY AND WHITE-CHOCOLATE COOKIES:
I also wanted to have a small, easily portable and scalable dessert, where people could choose just something light at the end of their meal, like one cookie, especially if they were “full”. One person enjoyed what he wanted, but had none of the 3 desserts. That’s will-power.
Initially, I thought these cookies were still too sweet, even though they have lots of agave nectar replacing sugar and oats to bring in lots of fiber. But, over the week of eating them, I think they are mostly OK.
I will cut out some of the remaining sugar from 1/4C to 1/8C, keep the agave nectar at 2/3 C and leave the rest of the recipe as written. I used dried cranberry-orange pieces from Trader Joes’s. We did get about 3 dozen cookies, and my daughter took some home for them, and we have had 3 adults nibbling on them for the past week. We still have 6 – 8 left. They are quite tasty, and even though I rarely make desserts, I would be willing to make these again, occasionally.
MAPLE TART WITH “TOASTED” PECANS:
I never toast nuts. What a waste to denature their protein. The ones on top got toasted anyway. This was my first attempt to make a Pecan Pie (which I love, but rarely eat). So, when I saw that this Pecan Pie did NOT use corn syrup (which is SO BAD for you !!!!), I thought I would try it.
Over the years, I keep buying organic unsulfured molasses, and rarely use much of a bottle before it expires. This time, my husband and I watched in horrified fascination as we saw our shallow pie shell fill with a heady mixture of 1/2C organic unsulfured molasses, 1/2 C organic Grade B Maple Syrup (must be organic!) (you can also use Grade A), 3 Tablespoons of agave nectar, 3 lightly beaten eggs, 1/2 C chopped organic pecans, 3 Tablespoons of light rum, 4 Tablespoons of organic butter and full pecan halves to decorate the top. I was fairly postive it would still be SO sweet — after all, look at all that molasses and syrup.
But, amazingly, it really wasn’t sickly-sweet like other Pecan Pies. It was pleasantly sweet, and you could taste all kinds of nuance flavors which made it more complex, and you didn’t need or want to eat the crust. We still have a piece left, but it won’t last long! It took only an hour to do the prep and about 35 minutes to bake. We got a MUCH healthier pie than we could have bought (“fresh-baked” ones were $8). Once in a while I would make it for a special occasion where other people eat most of it!
So, all in all, I think our Friday Thanksgiving turned out well, and we had extra time beforehand to cook. We’ve done lots of other cooking with the various “left-overs” all week and we made the 2 new dark turkey meat dishes (one we haven’t even tried yet!).
So, I think we got an amazing number of meals from this, with I estimate at least another 9+ full adult meals to go beyond the 56 already this week.
We’ll do some more cooking this week-end for my Mum’s 86th Birthday — but it will be an Aussie Meal. For me, I’ll wait ’til Thanksgiving for those foods again, and after Mum’s Birthday, I’ll be thinking about traditional Hanukkah menus. My daughter’s already putting in requests so our new family member will get to experience something special.
I hope this has helped you. If you have questions, please write.
Best to all — Em
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