One time per year; that’s it. Pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey are limited to one day out of three hundred and sixty five, but I say “NO MORE!” (Or should that be “Please, sir, I want some more.”?)
I’m starting a new holiday: Junesgiving. Thanksgiving dinner is so good, we need to eat it more often, and eating it in the summer might be even better than November. Here are the benefits as I see it:
1. It never hurts to be thankful. The population of the USA would be healthier if we gave thanks more and ate less. The GratituDiet can be the next diet craze: write a thank you note to a farmer, grocer, or God before you eat…EVERY time before you eat. The eventual hand cramps will limit our ability to use forks or spoons and slow down our caloric intake.
2. No more pressure to stuff yourself silly on Thanksgiving Day. You only have to wait 182.5 days for the next turkey instead of 364: i.e. the world will not end if you don’t eat another mountain of mashed potatoes.
It’s actually a great idea to fill a second plate to eat later, just make sure it’s hours later, not minutes. Sometimes knowing I get to repeat a great meal helps remove the temptation to go for seconds NOW.
3. Better veggies. Let’s face it, summer is the time of year when vegetables are growing, so it’s easier to find them fresh and cheap. Instead of green bean casserole, you can have fresh green beans. Peel and cook some turnips and mix them with the potatoes for some extra nutritious mashed tubers. Take the recipe for sweet potatoes and cut the “good stuff” (butter, sugar, marshmallows) in half, or try roasting them with olive oil and cinnamon. The more vegetables you add to your meal, and the closer to “naked” you eat them, the more you can fill your plate, fill your belly, and stay on track for a healthy holiday season.
4. Practice, practice, practice. Ladies of my generation, if your mother, grandmother, or mother-in-law usually cooks the turkey, then you probably have no clue how that sucker gets from fridge to table. But our day is coming! Granted, by the time we’ve become matriarchs, we’ll be able to click on a turkey on Amazon and it’ll be shipped directly to our oven fully cooked, but it’s still a good skill to have so we can brag to our grandchildren that we cooked our own bird back in the “good old days”.
I used to think cooking a turkey was really complicated, but one day I saw turkey on sale for 69 cents a pound and thought “It’s just a giant chicken!” At 69 cents per pound, I was willing to take a risk and I discovered it’s pretty easy. The hardest part is manhandling the slippery carcass. Rinsing the bird is like giving a one year old a bath in the sink, only less messy.
Here’s what you do: buy a turkey now while they’re on sale. If you’re an awful cook, buy two: you need the practice. Put it in the freezer. Check the weather in June and pick the hottest, most humid day you can for your Junesgiving; you’re not going outside anyway, so you may as well make the house smell good.
5. Experimentation. With Junesgiving, you can try new recipes and alternative ways to cook great food without 17 relatives critiquing the results. I’m always trying to figure out ways to cook foods I love in healthier veggie-rich ways.
There are two traditional Thanksgiving dishes that I haven’t found a healthy “fix” for: stuffing and pecan pie. I made a sweet potato-pecan pie that was delicious, but I can’t call it healthy. I also tried stuffing the bird with vegetables, but they don’t soak up the fabulous fowl grease like stale bread does. I ended up so-so veggies instead of the turkey-belly-ambrosia that is stuffing. For now I savor those two dishes the most and put less of them on my plate. Some foods are worth the extra calories.
“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30