Tag Archives: no sugar thanksgiving

Thanksgiving ala No Added Sugar

Forget that stuffing in a box! Re-posting this video from two years ago, so you can follow along to make my favorite stuffing, with No Added Sugar. A holiday without a boatload of added sugar is not only possible but it is delicious and something you don’t have to feel guilty about afterwards!

Important note:Make the stuffing the day before, allowing the flavors to combine nicely.

Link to a post that has the full recipe for the Oyster Stuffing: https://eveschaub.com/2016/11/17/thanksgiving-stuffing-without-all-the-stuff/

Thanksgiving Stuffing… Without All the Stuff

I’m cooking this year for Thanksgiving, and when that happens- believe it or not- I always look forward to it. Many people I know groan at the prospect of being responsible for this preposterous, Brobdignagian, and above all, deeply American feast. It’s no wonder: between the 47 must-have dishes, (“what do you mean you didn’t make the green Jell-o with the little bananas floating in it?”) and the obligatory mid-morning turkey-roasting nervous-breakdown (“Is it supposed to still be frozen inside?”), all we need to complete the collective sense of impending doom is Paul Revere riding through the living room calling out “The Relatives are coming! The Relatives are coming!!”

In the midst of all this madness, who could blame us for allowing “avoiding sugar” to fall to the bottom of our priorities list? Well, I’m here to tell you that you needn’t despair of your sugar-avoiding ambitions. Whether you’re cooking yourself, or just bringing a dish to help weigh down the table at someone else’s home, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean “oh well” in the no-sugar department.

Let’s pinpoint the potential pitfalls: as always, if something has been store-bought, you’re probably in trouble. Whether it’s a package of gravy, a pre-glazed or brined meat, or a package of insta-stuffing- you’re going to encounter a whole host of added sugars, long before the pumpkin pie makes its appearance. I mean, look at these lists of ingredients I found for the most popular brands of instant stuffing:
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-34-24-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-17-at-11-19-06-amHoly cow! High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, Honey, Raisin Juice Concentrate… I count five different names for sugar in those ingredient lists, and that’s without even getting into any of the other, highly-questionable ingredients like mono and diglycerides (trans-fats), partially hydrogenated soybean oil (more trans-fats), BHT butyl hydroxytoluene (also used in embalming fluid) and DATEM (Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides- yum!). Google any of these and you’ll come up with a host of websites devoted to telling you that these “ingredients” cause cancer, cancer and also cancer, endocrine disruption, diabetes, and your head to fall off.

So! How hard would it be- really- to make your own stuffing? Honestly, it’s not bad at all. Chop up some crusty bread, add some sauteed vegetables and spices, and bake in the oven in a casserole dish. Voila! No added sugar, no nasty chemicals.

Incidentally, this is a subject near and dear to my heart: in my house growing up, Turkey Day was always all about the stuffing. You could lose everything else, up to and including the turkey itself, (which I actually did for years as a quasi-vegetarian), but the one dish it could not be Thanksgiving without was my mom’s famous Oyster Stuffing. If you feel like trying something new to go along with your uber-traditional meal, I highly recommend giving it a shot. Getting the oysters pre-shucked at a fish market is a little pricey, but my idea of a virtually indispensible holiday treat. My advice? Scrap the shrimp cocktail this year- try this instead.

(I like to make it a day in advance and throw it in to re-heat while other things are cooking. Also- it makes the most incredibly wonderful ingredient for leftover turkey sandwiches.)

Here it is:

Eve’s Mom’s Famous Oyster Stuffing

2 lbs of bread torn or cut into 1/2 inch pieces (make sure it does not contain sugar as an ingredient… Your best bet is to buy bread from (gasp!) a real baker… if you can find one. Let it get a little stale- 2 days or so.)

3/4 c. fresh parsley

2 Tbsp finely grated fresh lemon peel (I always use organic lemons if using the peel to avoid pesticides)

1 Tbsp crumbled sage leaves

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 lb butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3 cups chopped onions

2 cups chopped celery

3 cups (1 1/2 pints) shucked oysters, drained

1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine bread and chopped parsley, lemon peel, sage, pepper, and 1 Tbsp salt in a large bowl and mix well. In a 10-12 inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add onions, sauteing for five minutes or till translucent. Add celery, saute 1-2 minutes more. Add the sauteed vegetables, oysters and egg to the bread and spices and gently stir together. Cook in a buttered 9 by 13 inch casserole dish, covered with aluminum foil at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, remove foil, cook for 20 minutes more allowing top to brown nicely.

A Year Of No Sugar: Post 86

Oh yeah- Thanksgiving. The mother of all quintessentially American holidays… and- not coincidentally- the mother of all gluttonous holidays as well.

Check Out Those Cranberries!

It’s kind of amazing all the different foods that we’re supposed to concoct in order to have it be “real” or “traditional.” It’s daunting. In fact, I have a dear friend whose family bags the whole thing and makes a large Thanksgiving pizza. Not just turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes- oh no!- but cranberries, gravy, and whatever other sides you grew up eating with them: maybe peas, corn, applesauce… maybe green bean casserole with the crunchy tin-can onions on top or strawberry Jell-O with little banana UFOs floating inside, or perhaps yam casserole drenched in brown sugar, butter and tiny marshmallows… No matter what, everyone seems to have a food it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without. (For the record, for me it is my mom’s Oyster Stuffing. It. Is. So. Good.)

So once you get through making all the mandatory foods, the “it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without” foods, and anything special or new that you decided to throw in this year – you’ve got yerself a fairly serious Mount Kilimanjaro of food.

However, despite the fact that it was a ridiculous starch-fest (more stuffing with your mashed potatoes, my dear?) and the fact that many of those “traditional” dishes (marshmallows? Did the Pilgrims have those?) can practically cause instant diabetes, despite all that we got through the entire meal- with only minor modifications- No Sugar style.

Glucose Syrup - YUM!

Gravy is always a prime suspect- but Mom bought it at Whole Foods and checked the ingredients so we were safe on that account. She also made that green bean casserole and I was amazed to find only dextrose (!), not sugar or any icky variant thereof, in the ingredient list. Well, yay! Not that this was health food you understand, but still.

My proudest achievement of the day was my dextrose cranberries, which I had practiced earlier in the week just to be sure they would meet everyone’s Official Turkey Day Fruit expectations. I mean, these might be the only cranberries some of our guests would eat all year! In the making, I was amazed on many counts:

  1. It was ridiculously easy. Because everyone I know always buys those cans of jellied stuff saturated with High Fructose Corn Syrup, I’d gotten the impression it was rocket science- instead its about as easy as making oatmeal.
  2. I was very stressed about gaining the correct amount of sweetness and jelly-like texture. The problem was solved by cooking the berries in a mixture of boiling water and dextrose, and then adding a healthy dollop of one of my newest favorite things: glucose syrup. More on that in a minute.
  3. Did you know cranberries pop when you cook them? How much fun is that?

Luckily, I had recently gone in search of glucose syrup- thanks once again to No Sugar guru David Gillespie- in the attempt to make one of his No Sugar recipes. Glucose Syrup? It sounded scary, like an ingredient for a science experiment involving frogs and tweezers. And it sounded even less appetizing than dextrose. Hmm. But I really wanted to make his granola bars recipe, and my attempt to do without resulted in a delicious granola bar confetti- it just didn’t hold together at all.

So like dextrose, I found it online. I purchased a tiny tub of the mysterious stuff, which arrived looking more like an ingredient for my laboratory than food. It’s clear, gooey, and tar-like in consistency… it gets absolutely everywhere when you try to measure it. Yuck- this was not the kind of ingredient anyone was going to want to lick the spoon of. Then again, I reasoned, Gillespie had never steered us wrong yet.
And of course, he was right: glucose syrup is the perfect solution for anything that needs not only sweetening, but also the viscous thickening that many traditional sweeteners provide: molasses, for example. More and more lately, I’ve been using dextrose powder, to the point where I actually almost forget that I’m making any modification. If the recipe says “1/2 cup sugar” I read “1/2- ¾ cup dextrose. But there are situations where dextrose alone just isn’t going to create that thick texture you need. Enter: Glucose Syrup. Wearing a cape. The cranberries are saved!!

One GF pie by Katrina and one regular pie by Eve!

Lastly, I need to talk about the pie. Our Sugar Dessert for the month was to be our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. But because, as I described, I’m so used to my big orange container, I completely forgot at first and used dextrose in the crust rather than actual sugar. When I got to mixing the pumpkin with the spices, I had to remind myself- go get the sugar.

The pie was delicious, as pumpkin pie always is. It only takes ¾ cup of sugar in the entire recipe, so compared to many desserts, the swetetness is fairly mild and not likely to cause us all Banana-Cream-Pie-style headaches. Actually, our monthly dessert passed with such little fanfare that it made me wonder- have we entered a new stage here, where sugar just doesn’t matter so much any more? Can it be, after eleven months of diligence, and with the help of magical ingredients like dextrose and glucose syrup, that we can get to a place where we are conditioned to be perfectly happy with a vastly reduced level of sweet? Have we really, at last, shunned sugar?

And I couldn’t help but also wonder… if I had used dextrose in the pie filling too, would anyone have noticed?