In the years before my bariatric surgery in 2001, preparing a Thanksgiving meal would take me a MONTH. I would spend weeks thinking about and finding the right recipes for way too many dishes and gave little or no thought to calories.
That behavior now embarrasses me. Over twenty years after bariatric surgery, our family eats much cleaner and we actually prefer simple fresh foods - probably more in line with how people of normal size conduct themselves.
For a holiday, I make shrimp cocktails, roast a small turkey along with some vegetables, homemade gravy and I bake a no sugar pumpkin custard or pumpkin cheesecake. It takes me 90 minutes. While I am still a perfectionist, it's really just a nice meal.
Now that I have more to be thankful for and am at peace with myself, I spend less time on the 'stuffing myself silly' aspect of the holiday and we have a much nicer time. Thanksgiving is one meal. A nice one, but no one who had their stomach removed needs to overthink it.
The 3 Genius Tips to Get You Through the Day!
1. USE A MEAT THERMOMETER!
YOUR TURKEY IS DRY BECAUSE YOU OVERCOOK IT. The most reliable way to check the doneness of turkey is with a meat thermometer. Pull that plastic pop up thing out of your turkey and throw it into the trash. You can buy a digital thermometer for five dollars at the grocery store. Get one now, before they are sold out.
Test the temperature by sticking the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, without hitting the bone. When the internal temperature registers a steady 165°F, your turkey is done. Remove it from the oven. The carryover heat will continue to cook your turkey to a slightly higher temperature.
NO FOIL on a cooked turkey - the steam will make the skin soggy. Pre-op, I would eat *most* of the crispy skin on the entire turkey while I carved it in the kitchen, but now it (thankfully) makes me gag. Allow the turkey to rest on top of your stove for at least 20 minutes in order for the juices to reabsorb into the meat. Slice to your platter.
2. GRAVY! You must moisten your sliced turkey in order for it to be bariatric friendly. Gravy is VERY easy if you create the flavorful liquid in your roasting pan while you are cooking your turkey. Look at all the gorgeous rich turkey juices in my roasting pan of turkey thighs in the photo! How do you make great stock while roasting your turkey?
- Arrange a bed of sliced onion, apple, celery, carrot and fresh poultry herbs in a heavy roasting pan.
- Rub the turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with Bell's Poultry Seasoning and sea salt on all sides - place on top of the herb apple vegetable layer. The vegetables act as a rack.
- Roast in preheated 350° oven until inner temperature has reached 165 on an instant read thermometer as discussed in tip 1.
- Remove to a large platter.
- Mash the soft roasted vegetables with a wooden spoon, scraping browned bits off sides and edges.
- Pour it all through a wire mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, pressing on the cooked vegetable solids to extract all the flavor and goodness. Skim off the fat with a big spoon into a cup (pour the fat down the garbage disposal).
- Add enough Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken stock to your homemade pan stock, so you have a total of about 2 1/2 cups.
- Bring your beautiful gravy stock to a boil in a medium saucepan then lower the heat to medium.
- In a small bowl, mash together 2 tablespoons soft butter and 2 tablespoons flour - it will almost be like a soft dough - this is fancy French word cooking term, called a 'beurre manie'
- Add small pieces of this soft 'dough' to the simmering stock while whisking and cook until the gravy is smooth and glossy.
- Taste it and add salt if it needs it.
- Best gravy ever!
3. PUMPKIN CUSTARD
No matter what our friends are serving or how dry their turkey turns out, I have always arrived carrying a gorgeous sugar free NO PIE PUMPKIN PIE aka Spiced Pumpkin Custard to the event. If the dinner is truly Bariatric Unfriendly or if it just isn't working for me, I push it around on my plate knowing that I can have a dish of my soft smooth pumpkin custard!
This baked dish of pumpkin custard has saved me on more than one occasion! ALWAYS BE PREPARED.