The Building Blocks of a Clean, Delectable Thanksgiving Dinner

In my nearly four years of eating clean, doing DDPYOGA, and in the process, dropping 185 unwanted pounds, I’ve learned a thing or two about food. Most importantly, it’s crucial to still enjoy it.  I do. How else could I have made it this far?  But balance is equally critical because, again, I ask:  how could I have made it this far? In my other life, I was either dieting or overeating. No middle ground. None.  Today, it is on a patch of fertile middle ground where I have pitched my tent. And right next to it I’ve planted a massive victory flag that waves triumphantly in the wind.  And since the New Me is here to stay, I’ve had to learn the fine art of choosing my battles, or in this case, simple carbs.  In other words, I’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. I have every intention of making Thanksgiving a gastronomic feast this Thursday. I eat considerably more and considerably heavier on this day.  Why wreck the glory of it by inserting a dish or two that would be better suited at a spa?  That said, I don’t go wild either.  Case in point, the sample menu below.  It’s simple, yet rich. And because of that, I’ve chosen a clean green to cleanse the palate of all the fat and starch that’ll be going down the gullet that day.  I used to be enamored with the green bean casserole made with canned mushroom soup. If you are and it would dampen the day by excluding it from the menu, by all means go for it.  I’ve decided for me, I fare better with a simple dish of sauteed string beans, a little olive oil, and a few splashes of lemon topped with slivered almonds. Every dish on here is gluten free and mostly dairy free.  I confess to baking and cooking on special occasions with heavy cream.  As much as I adore coconut milk, I don’t want the taste of it in mashed potatoes or creamed onions.  And besides, the per serving ratio of cream is about a half cup. The cranberry sauce is made from whole berries and no white sugar.  It’s another delicious way to give the palate something else to grab onto and also cut through the gravy and butter.


This may look like a small menu, but it’s simply reflective of my preferences.  I’ve done the 15-item Thanksgiving menus in years past and discovered we tend to gravitate to five or so favorites.  A tight list of all-time faves saves time, money, and sanity.


Turkey with Gravy

Gluten-Free Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes

Green Beans Almondine

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Creamed Onions

Optional:  Gluten-Free rolls or biscuits


Below are recipes for some of the above.  As for the mashed potatoes, my secret is, boiling quartered potatoes in chicken stock instead of water. When they’re soft and fork-tender, drain liquid and add this delicious elixir known as melted butter and warm (NOT cold) heavy cream in increments as you blend with electric beater.  Salt and pepper to taste. As I openly admit, I use heavy cream (not milk) on special occasions.  Sometimes there’s just no other viable substitute.


Cranberry Sauce (All natural, no white sugar)


Gluten-Free Stuffing Video with Chef Bill

Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe


Cauliflower Scallion Puree


Cherry Cobbler



Given the nature of the meal, I prefer lighter desserts on this occasion.  When I’m smack in the middle of digesting copious amounts of turkey and carbs is not the ideal time to send down a slice of flourless chocolate cake as a chaser. Sometimes I’m too full for a dessert, but if you’re big on it, you could give a Crustless Pumpkin Pie, or Fruit Cobbler a go.  Served with a small scoop of Almond or Coconut-milk based ice cream and you’ve got a dazzler.  Often at the end of any dinner, if I’m truly craving a sweet, I’ll have a small piece of dark chocolate and let it melt slowly in my mouth.  It totally does the trick.  Every time.  But if you’re of the belief that a pie just isn’t a pie without a crust, below is a recipe for a gluten-free pie crust, courtesy of Team DDPYOGA member Diane Bender, who adapted it from a Libby’s Pumpkin Pie mix label.

And then there’s the other option after a voluptuous menu:  a liquid dessert. Here is one Chef Bill invented recently, after deciding that I’d been deprived of White Russians long enough:

Sparkling Clean White Russian

6 oz. Almond Milk

1 ounce vodka

1 ounce Godiva Liqueur or Kahlua

A dash of cocoa powder

Pour all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Serve strained or on the rocks.


Gluten-Free Pie Crust
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Pie Crust: Combine rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Form well in center. Add egg and vinegar; stir gently with a fork until just blended. Sprinkle with water; blend together with a fork and clean hands until mixture just holds together and forms a ball. (Be careful not to add too much water as dough will be hard to roll.)
Shape dough into ball and divide in half. Cover one half with plastic wrap; set aside. Place remaining half on lightly floured (use rice flour) sheet of wax paper. Top with additional piece of wax paper. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Remove top sheet of wax paper and invert dough into 9-inch deep-dish (4-cup volume) pie plate. Slowly peel away wax paper. Trim excess crust. Turn edge under; crimp as desired. Repeat with remaining half.