Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gobble! Gobble! ... Certainly It Doesn’t Mean This

Dairy-free mini cupcakes have the makings of a crowd-pleaser. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

By JANET COOK, NYC Healthy Chick

Gobble! Thanksgiving Day is notorious for being an occasion when many take license to stuff themselves like – well – a turkey, overindulge in alcohol, quarrel with family and at midnight or 7 a.m. on Friday embark on a credit-card fueled spending spree.

Good golly, we have strayed far away from the traditions that gave rise to the holiday. In many cultures, festivals were held before and after harvest to give thanks for a good yield, to rejoice as a community after much hard work, to celebrate safe voyages and to celebrate peace. Would our British and Native American ancestors approve of how Thanksgiving is celebrated today? Have we lost our way and along with it the true meaning of the holiday? The answer is a resounding YES!

The promise of Friday morning bargains has replaced the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations around harvest, rest and peace. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

When was the last time any of us really gave thanks on Thanksgiving Day? During these harsh economic times many are facing challenges and obstacles like never before – from the loss of jobs, to life savings, relationships, loved ones and health. Thinking about all these losses can put a damper on things for sure.

This year, though, is an opportunity to create a whole new way of celebrating by turning all of the negatives outcomes into positive ones. Why not start by celebrating the hardships with reconciliation, proclamations, gratitude and a lot of thankfulness? Of course, the meal can be the centerpiece of it all.

Thanksgiving 2011 carries a greater meaning for me personally. Having surrendered and dealt with my own personal and professional losses this past year, I was reminded how blessed I am. The lessons I've learned about letting go, being flexible, forgiving, mourning, growing, thriving, as well as creating something from nothing, stretched me far beyond my comfort zone. My family, friends and business partners have been truly amazing. From them I received an outpouring of support, love and understanding in what were not some of my finest hours.

The Thanksgiving dinner of today is far removed from the idyll depicted in Norman Rockwell's "Freedom From Want." Photo courtesy of the Norman Rockwell Museum.

In my quest for the true meaning of Thanksgiving, I found a few great quotes that are reminders of how blessed we truly are:

Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than those we once enjoyed of those we enjoy now.A.W. Tozer

I do not think of all the misery. But of the glory that remains.Anne Frank

Reflect upon your present blessings … not on your past misfortunes.Charles Dickens

Observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficient father who dwelleth in the heaven.Abraham Lincoln

Now that we have some ingredients for creating a new meaning and purpose for Thanksgiving, let’s talk turkey. Face it, our ancestors weren’t dealing with weakened immune systems, food allergies and sensitivities. What’s a host(ess) to do when Aunt Susie is lactose intolerant, Cousin Bob is gluten sensitive, and his/her BFF is a vegan?! Holy mackerel! Suddenly, the meal becomes a major production.

The stuffing is packed with enough ingredients to make diehards forget that it is gluten-free. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

Not to worry, NYC Healthy Chick has simple solutions for making Thanksgiving a breeze!

Repeat after me … BUFFET. Viola! Instead of the traditional meal, prepare a few favorites (the bird and loads of veggies). Ask food-sensitive guests to bring a dish or two for the celebration. Make sure to place note cards next to each dish or give a head’s up about all items on the menu to those with sensitivities. The last thing anyone wants on Thanksgiving is people rushing off to the bathroom – or worse the hospital!

Clueless about where to find healthy holiday recipes that will please every palate? For the lowdown on some of the best vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free holiday recipes check out the Whole Foods web site. The recipes are creative, tasty and offer alternatives to holiday classics, not to mention help for those who have problems with portion control. (http://

Go-Go Gluten Free Bread Stuffing. Still enjoy a favorite holiday side dish without the worry of gluten-sensitivity flare-up. The stuffing is loaded with ingredients that make up for what is lost in the traditional recipe. (

Got Vegan? Serve up a warm Millet Salad With Brussels Sprouts, Creamed Mushrooms and Sage. (Vegan family and friends will jump with joy at the effort made to serve a hearty, flavorful holiday dish in their honor. (

A salad for vegans and nonvegans, too. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

Go lite with versatile Mini Pumpkin-Ginger Cupcakes topped with Maple Cream Frosting to satisfy the post-meal sweet tooth. Unlike the traditional seasonal cupcakes, which are made with white sugar, hydrogenated oil and artificial flavorings, these dairy-free treats are made with healthier ingredients. They should appeal to everyone around the dinner table.;

Let’s give thanks for what we have and what can be gained this Thanksgiving. Doing so will leave us wanting for nothing.

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