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A Healthy Thanksgiving Is Not For The Birds

TofurkyBy Deirdre Imus-Food is the star of nearly every American holiday, but it is king of Thanksgiving.  For those of us who avoid meat and strive to maintain healthy eating habits year-round, such days can feel challenging: we are viewed by friends and family as pariahs, buzzkills, snobs, nuisances, or any combination thereof.   
 
But there is no need to sit smugly in the corner, starving. Thanksgiving presents the opportunity to introduce others to the delicious variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other foods vegans and vegetarians regularly enjoy. Not only will you add new fulfilling flavors to your family’s feast, but you’ll finally have a tangible answer to the question, “So, like, what do you eat?”
 
Rather than sit around the table worshipping a dead animal, turn everyone’s focus to lively grains like quinoa and millet. In addition to being yummy, they’re also gluten-free, so you won’t feel weighed down like you might after eating a bowl of pasta (or a pound of turkey). Toss in some roasted Brussel sprouts, dried cranberries, and toasted walnuts. Await applause. 
 
Tofurkey is more than just a hilarious name: it is a nutritious way for non-meat eaters to stay connected to Thanksgiving tradition. It is comprised of organic tofu, vital wheat gluten, and expeller pressed non-GMO canola oil, and can be served with an equally vegetarian stuffing: think focaccia bread, mushrooms, Herbes de Provence, carrots, onions, and celery.             
 
For toppings, carry the mushroom theme from the stuffing over to the gravy. Use vegetable stock, spices, and a natural thickener like arrowroot or corn starch. Make a healthy homemade cranberry sauce using fresh berries; canned varieties are full of added sugar and possibly also the toxin bisphenol-A (BPA), which leeches into the sauce from the lining of the can.  
 
Dessert options abound, but my favorite is mini pecan pie with a dollop of the vegan topping truwhip. Wash it all down with a warm organic lemonade or sparkling apple cider (for full seasonal effect, throw in a cinnamon stick!). 
 
When cooking any dishes for Thanksgiving or other holidays, be mindful of your ingredients. Buy local: it will be fresher, taste better, and conserve energy (the truck delivering it uses less gas). Avoid genetically modified foods, or GMOs: their original DNA has been purposely altered, and goodness knows how these changes affect human health. 
 
Above all, infuse a hearty portion of holiday cheer into your Thanksgiving celebration.  There are few things better for the mind, body, and spirit. 
 
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