HELP! This is the first Thanksgiving where I'm in charge, and three of the six people coming to my home are vegetarians. What can I serve in lieu of turkey?
Troubled by Turkey
Dear Troubled by Turkey,
This whole who-eats-what thing can get very confusing, so a quick crash course before you go serving the main course might be in order. First step: are they vegetarians or vegans? Like vegetarians, vegans don't eat meat, but in addition, vegans will not eat any foods or ingredients derived from animals, including butter, eggs, and dairy products (no dairy = no ice cream - that's a tough one to swallow). For all our sakes, we'll just assume for now that they're regular vegetarians.
Now, just because three of your six guests are vegetarians doesn't mean you need to jettison the giblet gravy or toss the turkey from a moving car. Maybe just downsize it a bit and get a small turkey, or even just a few Cornish gamehens, to satisfy the carnivores in the crowd. Gamehens can be stuffed individually just the same as a turkey, and they make great individual servings for a small number of meat-eating guests. As long as you don't think the vegetarians among you will be bothered by the presence of some meat at their table, I say the more the merrier!
As for the herbivores, the good news is that there are an increasing number of delicious meat-alternatives that come premade from the grocery store, that only need to be popped in the oven. The most famous, and probably the best, is the Tofurkey, which is delicious, nutritious, quick-to-cook, and even comes pre-stuffed! You can buy these little guys in the frozen food section of your local grocery store, and you can even buy vegetarian gravy to go with them! In addition to the meat-replacement therapy, you might also try to "beef up" the vegetable dishes you are serving, adding hearty options like Brussels sprouts (I know, I know) and roasted vegetables. For more recipes for a mouth-watering vegetarian Thanksgiving, check out HYPERLINK "http://www.vegcooking.com" www.vegcooking.com . They've got enough great ideas there to make us all think about begging off the bird!
Remember, this is a day about being thankful and enjoying friends and family. Don't get too overworked trying to satisfy everyone, and don't forget to stop and smell the stuffing!
Like you, I am constantly struggling with my weight. This time of year is always the hardest for me. First Halloween, now Thanksgiving! My family does nothing on Thanksgiving but eat and drink all day long. When I try to be "good" they harass me and say my diet can wait until the next day. How can I keep my girlish figure and stay focused on my goals without being harassed?
I hear ya sister. I often wondered if our act of stuffing the turkey was a form of retaliation for what we do to ourselves the rest of this "thankful" day. I hate to do it, but I think I'm going to pull out the big guns and quote the once-famous and always fashion-a-bull Nancy Reagan and tell you to..."just say NO." "No" to more turkey. "No" to more mashed potatoes. "No" to more of that green bean casseroley thing, and a big "SKINNY NO" to more dessert! (Is anyone else getting a little hungry here?)
Don't let the overzealous overeaters undermine your determination for an undersized waist size! Remind them that this is a celebration of giving thanks, and not an eating ritual meant to praise the gods of polyester stretchy pants. The health and happiness that comes from eating in moderation and living well is really something to be thankful for, and it's no easy task on T-day, especially when you have ten different appetizers followed by six main courses and seven different desserts (now I'm STARVING!).
On the other hand, if the family pressure is too much, or if the stress is getting in the way of your enjoyment, it IS okay to allow yourself to take a little "diet vacation for a special occasion." Dieting doesn't succeed or fail on a single day. It's a long-term commitment, and if you plan well and balance out the indulgence with some good behavior (say, walk or run an extra fifteen minutes a day for the five days after Thanksgiving), and don't CONTINUE to indulge on the inevitable mountain of leftovers for the whole next week, it's okay to splurge just a little bit on a special day. However don't let it get out of hand, and don't let your family talk you into something you don't want to do.
Stick to your guns, and don't let those turkeys get you all basted! You sit at the big kids' table, and need to be respected as such.
I read on your website that next week's column is about Thanksgiving and so I have a question for you. My wife, children and I are going to be away from home for 3 days over Thanksgiving. We've never left our dog, Poppy, home without us. Can you give us some advice? Is it better to leave her in a kennel at the veterinarian's office, hire a neighbor to dog sit, or do you have any other ideas? We don't want to stress her out by taking her on the plane with us because she is too big to travel in the passenger compartment, and we can't bear the thought of how scary traveling in "cargo" would be for her.
Gone But Not Forgotten
Dear Gone But Not Forgotten,
Great Question! I'm sure many people have this same dilemma and will appreciate your asking. Leaving your beloved at home for the short holiday trip is probably the best solution. Number one, being stuck in a travel kennel in what will undoubtedly be a looooooooong line of people at the airport is not the best place for your pets. Plus, you have enough headaches to deal with while traveling over the holiday weekend. Home is where the heart is, and where Poppy will probably feel most comfortable. The best option is to invite a trusting neighbor to enjoy the comforts of your empty nest and propose that while there, they try to take care of Poppy's doggie needs. You can prepare a few KONG toys with doggie treats inside to help distract Poppy from the loneliness of your absence. Once your neighbor looks into those "Poppy" dog eyes, how could they resist (especially if you offer to pay them)?
If the "eyes" don't have it, throw plan B into action. A reputable kennel can be a great place to send your Poppy for a little R & R while you and yours are gobblin' up the gobbler. These are professionals who have been trained to deal with pet anxiety and their full focus is to ensure that Poppy is peppy and playful and not listless and lonely. This is also a great stress-reliever for you, because you know that someone is "on watch" most of the day and into the night. The disadvantage is that Poppy is out of her normal environment, and may be a little uneasy even in the friendliest of kennels. Be sure to find out if the kennel you're going to use is a member of the American Boarding Kennels Association (ABKA). Besides requiring members to subscribe to a code of ethics, ABKA offers voluntary facility accreditation that indicates the facility has been inspected and meets ABKA standards of care. ABKA can be reached by calling 719-667-1600. It's also a good idea to check with your Better Business Bureau to see whether or not any complaints have been filed with regard to professionalism, safety or quality of care. Go to http://www.BBB.com to find your local organization.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and Poppy!