Monday, November 26, 2012

Low Carb Holidays - Keeping Everybody Happy

This wasn't our Thanksgiving meal, but it's close. 

We tried to do a low carb holiday this Thanksgiving.  There were just to be four of us for dinner.  I’ve lost fifty pounds on low carb and am stalled right now. My brother has lost fifty pounds, on low carb, but had to fight with his doctor to do it because he had quadruple bypass surgery in 2010. He’s still on a statin and both docs won’t let him off. My sister-in-law has lost thirty pounds on low carb.  We were having one guest who is diabetic and who suffers from GERD. So we were tasked with getting dinner ready by no later than 6pm.  This is hard for my sister-in-law and I since I live about an hour away and am not a morning person and they were going to 9:00am Mass and probably wouldn’t be home until about 10:30am anyway.
I was shooting for 10:30am, but got there at 11am. Not too bad in our book. One time my sister-in-law and I goofed around on Thanksgiving morning, going to her classroom where she teaches to check on a fish, and I think we shopped a bit too. By the time we had everything ready to eat, it was 9:30pm.  My brother was not happy. Although, I will say, that no one helps us with dinner. We make my brother stuff the turkey, but mostly he gets to watch football and complain about our tardiness.  That 9:30pm Thanksgiving was our worst record. So we always feel better if we can beat that one.
So after unloading my car and getting my dog settled in, it was about 11:30am by the time I dropped the butter into a bowl so it could soften for the pie crust.
I used Low Carb bread from Julian Bakery for the stuffing along with the usual sausage stuffing mixture. I knew when I switched from trying to tear the bread into pieces to cutting it with scissors because it was so tough, that I had bought way too much bread.  This stuff was not going to mash down into nothing like regular bread.  To Julian Bakery’s credit, they listened to complaints about their former recipe for low carb bread breaking apart too easily, however, now the stuff is so chewy and rubbery that even with small bites and lots more chewing than usual, it’s like swallowing foam rubber – kind of dry and scratchy.  I hadn’t tried the new formulation prior to Thanksgiving, so I didn’t know this going in.  Anyway, needless to say the flavor was good, but the texture did not work for any of us. I thought it was okay, but I wouldn’t make it again. 
My brother said that he never wanted to try to do a low carb holiday again.  When we questioned him about each dish, everything including the pies was okay with the exception of the stuffing and the biscuits. The biscuits surprised me, because he had liked the biscuits when I had made them before.
Holidays on low carb are all about compromise. So my idea for next year’s celebration would be to use regular bread in the stuffing, but only a quarter as much as I usually use.  Normally I use two loaves of bread if I make the stuffing the carb filled way, so half a loaf of bread and then maybe chop up some apples and throw in some craisins to make up the missing volume with something that has some nutritional value and is not just glucose and all the bad stuff that’s in the engineered wheat that’s only available now.  Maybe some nut meal added to the stuffing would work too.  Or hey, just some chopped nuts.
The menu was turkey stuffed with sausage dressing made with low carb bread, mock potatoes – cauliflower mashed with sour cream and cheese with bacon bits crumbled on top, cheese biscuits made with Carbquik,  and steamed green beans.  Beforehand we had parmesan crisps with flavored cream cheese for dipping and some nut crackers along with some cream cheese stuffed olives. For dessert we had made sugar free pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and dutch apple pie.  I still want to tweak the crusts on those pies, and should have doubled the topping for the dutch apple pie, but they were good.
One of my brother’s arguments for just having the traditional feast and not worrying about carbs is that he has had success with having one day a week where he can eat anything he wants. My sister-in-law was quick to point out that his idea would be fine, if there weren’t a ton of leftovers so that meant you’d be eating a bunch of carbs for several days. We’re just trying to minimize the impact. My argument against carbing out on holidays is that the one day a week pass doesn’t work for me. One meal a week, but not an entire day can work for me, but it’s not optimal. Even with what we were doing I knew we were eating way more carbs than I normally would, so it felt like a treat to me, even though the stuffing sucked.
So that’s the plan going forward. I think I will still make the biscuits because those suckers were gone by the next day and if my brother wants regular biscuits, he can make them. Just pop open a can. If you’re going to complain, then make what you want, I say. I’m willing to compromise to a certain point, but I expect the same willingness from the opposing side. 
The other thing I will say is that I’m doing low carb not just to lose weight but to eat healthier and while I admit that a treat or small break from time to time is not going to kill me, I want to err on the side of health, even on Thanksgiving. Why do that to your body in the name of celebration. I’d rather drink my carbs. Yeah, that’s bad too, but if you’re doing both like we were, I’d rather cut out the sugar and flour, but that’s me. I know Thanksgiving is for families, but even my nephew who is on a baseball scholarship is low carb too.  But I will try to compromise.  And if the next stuffing recipe doesn’t work, then I’ll make mine in a separate dish and he can make his.
As a final note we decided that because my brother does not like white meat, that next year we will just make turkey thighs and layer them over the dishes of stuffing while they cook. That could work for two kinds of stuffing. Yay! But like I said, I will make mine and whoever wants the diabetic coma shock version, can make theirs. 


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