Thanksgiving, A Truly American Holiday

Since America is a melting pot, one would think that the menu for Thanksgiving diner would vary depending on what ethnic neighborhood you might be in. Yet pretty much nationwide, wherever you go the traditional fare is turkey and stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Maybe this one of those times we do all actually "melt" together. Of course, some of it has to do with availability and quantity of the foods that are more available at fall harvest time. Using the pumpkins and squash before they frost or spoil, root vegetables that must be dug from the ground before they freeze, and making relishes out of the last of the peppers. Part of this is what makes us so American. We learned to use and utilize, and yes, even sometimes make a silk purse out of a sows' ear. Just look at the number of things we make out of pumpkin­­ cookies and pies, breads and muffins, soups and stews­­ incredible versatility in the hands of the American cook.

Versatility being the byword, lets look at some ways to vary our traditional recipes to make them more healthy­­ with fewer calories and all the taste.

Have an acorn or butternut squash sitting around? Prick it with a fork and microwave whole until tender. Scoop out and mash, season and mix just as you would pumpkin for a wonderfully fresh tasting pumpkin pie.

For the crust of that pie, or an apple pie, try adding some roasted oat flakes. In place of white flour use half whole wheat and half rice flour. Throw in a few chopped walnuts and some cold pressed oil (canola is good) for a wonderfully nutty texture and taste.

On the sweeter side use whole fruit jellies, honey, steevia, or brown rice syrup in place of white sugar. Remember to lessen the water in your recipes.

Baste your free roaming turkey with clarified butter in small amounts. Clarified butter tastes better than any oil and the milk solids are gone. Clarify butter by heating it on low heat, when the milk solids begin to turn brown and separate, remove from the heat and poor off the brown colored milk solids.

Have at least one artful yet simple dish to balance out the heavier foods. Lightly marinate a few fresh raw vegetables­­ multicolored peppers and cucumbers, or red onion and pea pods lightly steamed.

Cook to nourish yourself and your guests; add one portion love, one portion understanding and acceptance and you have the makings of a Thanksgiving Day to remember!

Till next time, Rebecca.

Your questions, recipes or comments are always welcome at the Zephyr, or my office, 312 Hill Arcade, Galesburg, IL 61401. 343-5256 or by email to

Last Modified: November 21, 1996
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