Tag: Thanksgiving

Organic Turkey: Why It’s Worth The Extra Few Bucks

roast turkey

As I write this a week before Thanksgiving, I realize that soon, lots of people will be spending their hard-earned money on holiday gifts for friends and family. I get it. Every extra dollar in your pocket this time of year adds up. But one thing I'm willing to splurge on even if it means one less spa treatment is organic turkey….

I'm doing a little online window shopping for the Thanksgiving meal I'll be hosting.

Should I spend $249.95 for a 20 pound organic turkey from a high-end gourmet company, (plus $35 delivery)? Or should I just pop in to the local Target which has a deal for $1.49 per pound for non-organic whole turkey?

The answer: neither.

I'm not spending 200+ bucks for turkey, that's just cray-cray. But I'm also not going to buy the cheapest turkey I can find. There's got to be a happy medium. While it's true that organic, pasture-raised turkeys can be double the price of non-organic turkey (and much more so if you're buying from Williams Sonoma), I think it's well worth the money spent.

Talkin' Turkey: Why Organic Is Better For You & The Planet

Maybe you're thinking, what's the big deal if you eat a little non-organic turkey for Thanksgiving. It's only one day a year. While that may be true, I believe that food is medicine. Why not give your body the fuel it needs to thrive?

The reason I eat organic turkey is because pasture-raised turkeys eat what they're supposed to eat in nature. And what do organically-raised turkeys eat? For starters, what they don't eat is any genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Instead, they eat grass, clover and other broad-leaved plants. In fact, according to this organic turkey farmer, turkeys that live in open pastures can “jump up and grab a midair bite out of 6 foot tall amaranth plants.” They eat anything green, adds the organic turkey farmer, from chicory to plantain.

In addition, organically-raised turkeys eat lots of seeds, acorns and nuts as well as vegetables such as heirloom tomatoes. This is the reason why organic turkeys are so flavorful (if you've never eaten organic turkey, trust me, it is way richer in flavor and more juicy and plump) and healthy. When you eat organic turkey you're getting the health benefits of the superfoods the turkeys eat in the wild.

Organic turkeys are higher in omega-3 fatty acids (the “good” fat that helps you burn body fat more efficiently), as well as another essential fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. CLA's help to fight against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

live turkey

Organic Turkey For Thanksgiving: Go Local

Do you see what I mean so far about food being medicine? Eating regular turkey provides none of the above benefits and can actually harm your health. This is because regular turkey may contain pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other stuff that's bad not only for the turkeys but for people, which includes consumers and factory farm workers, who are exposed to environmental hazards.

But let's say you're invited to a dinner where turkey is served. I realize it might be awkward to ask the host if the bird is organic. And unfortunately, even if the turkey has a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) organic certification, under current rules, poultry that is labeled USDA Organic may have been given antibiotic injections before it hatched and until its second day of life.

That's why in my opinion, if you're not in control of the situation, it's better to refrain from eating it. Instead, load up on green veggies and a little bit of fat to help you feel full. You'll be just fine going one meal without animal protein. However, if you are in control of the situation, and you're either hosting the meal or bringing another turkey to a dinner party, it's best if you get the turkey from a local farmer (or as local as possible). But even the USDA Organic label is far better for you than regular turkey.

And don't think that if you buy a turkey that has an “all-natural” label, it's as good as organic. The natural label just means that it's minimally processed without any artificial ingredients. It does not mean organic or no antibiotics, as this Consumer Reports article says.

Where to Buy Organic Turkey

If there's not a local organic turkey farmer within a short drive from you, you know where I'd look to buy? It's somewhere that I myself might go to to stock up on my Thanksgiving dinner: Costco. Last year, the wholesale membership club giant sold fresh organic hen turkey at $2.99 a pound! That savings on organic turkey is alone worth the cost of a Costco membership.

For that price I might just buy two 13-pounders. They'll cook faster than a 26-pounder.

tofurky

above, Tofurky roast

What About Vegetarian/Vegan Turkey Options?

If you don't eat meat, there's always the option of eating “tofukey”. Personally, I don't consider processed soybean products to be healthy. In fact, some health experts suggest that processed soybeans contain harmful substances such as enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors interfere with your digestion. They increase gastric distress and create chronic deficiencies, potentially leading to enlargement of the pancreas and cancer. These harmful substances, however, are greatly reduced when the soy is fermented. But to my knowledge, there's no fermented tofurkey on the market.

That being said, however, I think Tofurky's plant-based Roast & Wild Rice Stuffing is better for you than factory-farmed turkey.

I actually eat a 90-95 percent plant-based diet. But this Thanksgiving, I do plan on eating some organic turkey. I like knowing that the animal that will bless me with health and vitality was grown naturally, with plenty of open space in a caring environment. That to me is well worth $2.99 a pound.

To your health,

Chef V

Thanksgiving Food Coma? 5 Natural Drinks to Snap Out of It

Thanksgiving food coma

These 5 Natural Energy Drinks Will Snap You Out Of A Thanksgiving Food Coma

Did you overdo it on the turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing? If the huge holiday meal made you feel like a hibernating bear, use one of these best, natural energy drinks. Sorry, coffee’s not on the list. 

I was curious exactly how much eating a typical Thanksgiving meal can spike blood sugar levels. So I turned to the foremost expert on that kind of info: Dr. Google. 

But Dr. Google disappointed. You see, I was looking for a specific number expressed in mg/dL or mmol/L, the same measurements displayed in an electric glucose meter. But I couldn’t find a specific number like after eating a Thanksgiving meal, your blood sugar spikes from 90 to 170 mg/dl two hours after feasting. 

On page 1 of my search query, though, I clicked an article that had some glaring Thanksgiving meal disinformation. Referring to eating turkey, the article said, “Naturally high in protein and when paired with carbohydrates and sugar, [turkey] will help prevent spikes in blood sugar and keep you feeling satiated.”

I call BS on that. And the reason why is that eating a large amount of protein in one sitting can also spike your blood sugar. That’s definitely one reason people fall into food comas after the holiday meal. So it got me thinking… 

What’s the best natural drink to feel more energetic after having a large meal? I came up with my top 5. Would you like to hear them? 

Here goes…

Veronica with GD and TGD

#1 Green Veggie Juice

Of course my Organic Green Drink or Tropical Green Drink top this list—and not just for the sake of a shameless promotional plug. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily have a Green Drink right after a heavy meal. But if you’re still dragging hours later or the next morning, there’s nothing better. 

The 7 leafy green vegetables in Organic Green Drink—2 types of kale, collard greens, dandelion, green leaf lettuce, parsley, chard, and a tiny bit of apple—almost instantly flood your cells with nutrients. Your cells get charged up and bam! … you feel alert and back to balance. 

When you eat a huge meal, your digestive system has to expend a lot of energy in order to break food down. Your digestive enzymes, which are specialized proteins that break food into amino acids, get overworked and that’s why food sits like a brick in your stomach. 

But when you have a serving of Green Drink, the cold-blending process used to make the juice essentially predigests the veggies for you. In this way, your digestive system uptakes the nutrients without working very hard. 

My “cure” for a Thanksgiving/holiday food coma is to wake up the next day and drink a tall glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon. Wait 30 minutes and then have an 8 oz. serving of Organic Green Drink to flood your cells and feel like you’re back to Earth and ready to conquer the day. Try to eat light the rest of the day. 

yerba mate

#2 Yerba Mate

A couple drinks on this list are caffeinated but they don’t contain nearly as much caffeine as coffee does. Plus, they’re alkaline on the pH scale, not acidic like coffee. 

Yerba Mate is an herbal drink that’s super popular in Argentina, Uruguay and some parts of Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia. Related to the holly tree, yerba mate drinking is somewhat of a religious experience for South Americans. In the rest of the world, people have their ritual of drinking a cup of coffee. 

But in South America, yerba mate is an all-day affair. And you don’t just drink yerba mate out of a coffee or tea mug. In South America, you drink it out of a silver straw called a bombilla, which is placed in a gourd, which is the namesake mate. 

Yerba mate is high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Containing 85 mg of caffeine—less than half of a typical American serving of coffee—it may give you a buzz but you likely won’t feel anxious or jittery. 

matcha tea

#3 Matcha Tea

Another lightly caffeinated healthy beverage on my list, matcha tea differs from regular tea that comes in loose-leaf bags. Matcha is powdered whole-leaf tea and it’s much more concentrated than tea bags. And because it contains mostly every part of the tea leaf, matcha has more antioxidants than regular green tea bags. 

One teaspoon serving of matcha powder contains about 70 mg of caffeine. Like yerba mate, that’s much lower than a cup of coffee. 

Another benefit of matcha is that it contains the polyphenol antioxidant EGCG. This super nutrient benefits your gut health and immune system and helps prevent premature aging. Plus, it will give you an energy boost if you can’t get off the couch after Thanksgiving dinner. 

guarana

#4 Guarana 

Known as the cocoa of Brazil, guarana is the key ingredient in the name-brand unhealthy energy drinks you know so well. Is guarana a synthetic energy booster, a legal speed if you will? On the contrary, guarana is a fruit from South America but it packs an energetic punch especially when paired with the added caffeine in convenience-store energy drinks. 

In fact, ounce for ounce, guarana contains more caffeine than coffee. However, the health advantage to it is that the tannins in them cause the caffeine to be released more slowly than coffee. 

If you’re sensitive to guarana, don’t drink it at night. And make sure you choose a natural drink that doesn’t contain added sugars or added caffeine. 

dandelion root

#5 Dandelion Root Tea

This one’s a paradox. That’s because on one hand, dandelion root tea is the perfect substitute for coffee. But on the other hand, it is caffeine-free. So why should you consider drinking it if you’re hungover from the Thanksgiving meal? And for the longer term, if you’re thinking about eliminating coffee, why should you drink it if it won’t get you buzzed? 

The simple reason is that dandelion tea is chock-full of B vitamins. B vitamins directly impact our energy levels. But more than that, the taste of dandelion root tea resembles regular coffee. So for those people who enjoy the ritual of tasting freshly-brewed coffee in the morning, dandelion tea replicates the experience. 

Well, I hope I’ve given you some inspo to drink healthier energy drinks. And if you struggle to get enough leafy veggies in your diet, let me help you drink them down. Chef V delivers Organic Green Drinks throughout most of the USA. Learn more

Chef V’s Cranberry Sauce

So how do I make cranberry sauce healthy?  To sweeten the organic cranberries, I use coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is much better for your health because it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels.

Take a look. Doesn’t it look just like the real thing? And in my opinion, my cranberry sauce tastes better than traditional Thanksgiving.

– Veronica

pumpkin pie

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen organic cranberries
  • ½ cup raw coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. organic lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. filtered water
  • 1 tsp. organic sea salt

Directions

Add one cup of cranberries to a medium sized saucepan. Reserve ½ cup for later. Add the coconut sugar, water and lemon zest to the pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the cranberries burst, about 10 more minutes. Reduce the heat and stir in the remaining cranberries for texture. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add sea salt. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Bon Appétit!

Vegan Peppermint Hot Chocolate

What are some of the best memories around the holidays? Festive food and drinks are definitely mine!

Hot chocolate is a holiday treat but most of the time the ingredients are big NO-NO’s! Most hot chocolates you buy are instant powders pumped with chemicals or fake sweeteners. Most have dairy, cream or powdered milk (even worse!). Even if you go to a place serving hot chocolate, it’s rarely made in house with real ingredients. I created this delicious Vegan Peppermint Hot Chocolate recipe using peppermint tea, my home-made almond milk, raw cacao and coconut nectar to sweeten it slightly. It is so delicious and it is actually healthy for you.

In this process I heat the almond milk and steep the tea in the milk to infuse the natural peppermint flavor. GOODBYE artificial flavorings!!!

vegan hot chocolate

Ingredients

Directions

Heat almond milk over stove and steep tea while you bring the milk to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add cacao and stir well. Add coconut nectar and stir well. Pour hot chocolate into a coffee mug or cup of choice. You can top with my Coconut Whipped Cream. You can also add cacao nibs or crushed peppermint candies if entertaining or not cleansing.

Serves 2

Vegan Eggnog for the Holidays

Spread holiday cheer with our vegan take on a traditional favorite, eggnog. This thick, wonderfully flavored beverage can be made in many ways than one. Why not try our adult version with coconut nectar and almond milk. Not too thick, this chilled iconic drink will warm the hearts of your family and friends. Homemade, delicious and beautifully presented, how can it not?! Happy holidays and enjoy!

vegan eggnog

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup brandy (omit if cleansing)
  • 2 tsp. coconut nectar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (for garnish)

Directions

Combine ingredients together in a large pitcher and stir with a large spoon or whisk for 1 – 2 minutes. Serve in individual glasses chilled over ice. Add a cinnamon stick for garnish.

Serves 2

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