“Stuffing” and “healthy” rarely hang out together in a sentence. Or, at least, “stuffing” + “food that’s not bad for you”.
Well, they’re about to have a grand old time this week on the SRH healthy Thanksgiving countdown.
If you’re just tuning in, we’re shaking up the classics in just enough of a way that you can feel great about eating them on the big day (aka, not laid out on the couch, overstuffed food coma. That’s for the turkey). AND for those inevitable leftovers that can turn one great meal into a week long event. That we then roll right into December and feel too far gone, so why not continue? Familiar to anyone?
It’s easy to see how the average 7 lb gain happens between Nov 22nd- Jan 1st.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Starting with better quality ingredients, and making a few easy switches for some of the main dishes can turn your Thanksgiving into one of the healthier meals that you’ll have all season.
If you can think about Thanksgiving this way, you’re really just sitting down for a meal of eating whole + good foods, with some wine and/or dessert after. Not really too different than most people’s weekend nights if they’re healthy eaters. I mean, really. Sometimes I think we like being crazy.
So, let’s get down to it today. The stuffing. Just as much of a classic as the turkey.
Made with bread.
By now, most people know that bread is not a health food. Especially the ones that have marketing claims all over the front– “high fiber!” “low calorie!” “100 % whole wheat!”. Yes, they do have loud shout-y voices in my head.
However, that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that you can’t have bread (it’s a lifestyle people. If you love the food, nothing is off limits. Leave that thought for the masses of unhappy dieters out there ), but there are definitely some versions of breads that are much better for you than others.
How To Identify Better Bread:
1. In Your Head- fresh and real bread goes bad fast. Use it, enjoy it, love it, wrap it or refrigerate it, toast it, then be done with it. Bread should not be daily bread. It’s a nice comfort and easy way out (and yes, it tastes really good), but you’re taking up space in your stomach that could be used in a better way. Not highly efficient. Use bread as a nice side or addition to (some) meals, not the main focus of the meal.
2. K.I.S.S- You can recognize and pronounce all of the ingredients, and it doesn’t take you a long time to do because there are only 4-6 of them.
3. Sprouted breads or homemade artisan style breads are the best and healthiest options because the grains that they come from are prepared in a much less processed way. Plus, our bodies can digest them easier with the fermentation processes that each go through. Win-win.
I already know your next question, because it’s something I get asked a lot. What’s up with gluten vs. gluten-free breads?
You may notice that I have started to talk more about gluten-free foods. Not manufactured gluten-free products (again, the ones that have all kinds of marketing claims on the front), but basing your meals and food off of ingredients that don’t have them to begin with. Naturally gluten-free, I like to say.
I could talk for hours about it, but for purposes of this post, let’s keep it simple. If you don’t have an issue with gluten, hooray for you, enjoy the good stuff when you have it (ie, the types listed above).
If you do have problems with gluten, never fear.
Awesome recipes are here.
With big events like Thanksgiving, chances are there are a few people at the table that are in the same boat, or have a curiosity about it.
Since it’s been over a year since I’ve had gluten (more on that later), my version of stuffing uses millet bread (naturally gluten-free and in the freezer section of most health food stores) instead of processed gluten-free breads that sit on the shelf. How do I know the millet bread is better for you? 2 words: ingredient list.
And, I would bet that no one would even know the difference…. if I wasn’t so proud that I told everyone about it before they tried it. Sometimes I sadly, just can’t contain myself.
Not the traditional Thanksgiving dish type? Use the same ingredients, but combine them with cooked quinoa instead of bread. Not exactly stuffing, but a really good savory side dish just the same. DCW casing has more options.
Millet Sausage Stuffing With Apples
recipe adapted from “Cornbread Sausage Stuffing with Apples” from The Silver Palate: For the best texture, cut the bread into cubes and place in the fridge the day before you plan to make the stuffing.
Serving size: approx 4 cups of stuffing
1 green apple, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 organic and clean (very simple ingredient list) chicken, turkey or pork sausages (I used Applegate Italian turkey sausage), sliced into rounds.
6 larger leaves of fresh sage, chopped
1 loaf millet bread (to keep it GF) or 1 loaf hard crusted bakery style bread with 4 ingredients listed or less.
1 carton organic chicken broth (or homemade)
butter, sea salt + pepper
1. (Night before) Chop bread into cubes and place in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge until the next day, when you’re ready to cook.
2. Preheat oven to 325
3. In a large soup pot, melt a bit of butter and add onion. After a few minutes, add apple and sausage rounds. Stir and cook until the apples and onions soften and the sausage browns (approx 15 mins).
4. Add bread cubes and 1/4-1/2 cup broth to the pot. Add sage, a generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper and another pat of butter. Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
5. Pour the mixture into a greased glass baking dish or ceramic casserole dish. Pour chicken broth over so that you have about an inch of liquid standing in the dish. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Check on it after 20 and add more chicken broth if it looks too dry.