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A Tofurkey Thanksgiving? Excellent, thank you.

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From http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124284226@N01/3068571827/: Tofurkey for Thanksgiving turned out delicious.
Tofurkey for Thanksgiving turned out delicious.
(image by mlinksva)




The decision to celebrate a Tofurkey Thanksgiving was driven in large part by the price of salmon. With the traditional turkey-and-all-the-trimmings (and calories) extravaganza already off the table in my more health-conscious life style, fresh salmon sounded like a tempting alternative -- and one that was probably more in keeping with the original get-togethers. But at $9.99 a pound, fresh salmon quickly lost its appeal.

Hence, Tofurkey. Knock off the smirking out there. I see you. This is the real deal.

The no-meat Thanksgiving-with-all-the-trimmings turned out to be delicious, more than filling, and incredibly healthful. And it was nothing like the "Everybody Loves Raymond" TV episode that grabbed laughs at the expense of a mother trying to improve her family's health by serving a bunch of tofu shaped like a turkey.

For one thing, the Tofurkey roast is not shaped like a turkey. It's shaped like a roast. It's also stuffed with wild rice and bread crumbs and the recipe tells you to add apple slices to it. It comes with its own soy-based gravy. No animal fat. The whole roast cost just a buck more than a pound of salmon.

Of course, the secret to serving a successfully scrumptious Thanksgiving meal is what surrounds the "main" dish. Ours had lots of vegetables, all roasted in special sauces garnished with rosemary, sage and thyme and and topped with gravy. Two large baking potatoes, two large sweet potatoes and a butternut squash, all cut into big chunks, went in the pan with the roast. A second roasting pan accommodated a bunch of carrots, a bunch of broccoli and a red cabbage. We also had traditional cranberry sauce and cranberry/apple cider to finish it all off. You can check with Google to find out how nourishing all that was.

Everything came out of the oven looking and smelling great. So far, so good. On to the next step.

Trust me, it was with trepidation that I assumed the role of carver. I've done this plenty of times in the past, with electric and regular carving knives, and usually managed to slice up a lot of turkey relatively neatly. But would the tofu let me carve it, or would it crumble under the influence of a large, serrated knife?

Success! Following directions to make quarter-inch slices, the roast carved easily and neatly. The stuffing held up, too. The rest was easy. Spoon a bunch of vegetables -- that were mouth-wateringly good -- on the plate, top everything with meatless gravy (enhanced with some maple syrup and honey) and enjoy.

There was easily enough to serve four people, which means, in keeping with Thanksgiving tradition, there were plenty of leftovers. Indeed, the feast provided two more satisfying meals, one enhanced with plenty of brown rice.

I write about this not to toot my own horn. Rather, because I think there is still an attitude of condescension in this country about people who want to do something as foolish as to eat food that is not only good tasting, but good for them. As if it is somehow elitist to want to not fill one's body with known killers such as salt, sugar and fat or dumb to want to live as long as possible in the best health possible.

I'm no food snob and I don't think I'm dumb. I haven't sworn off red meat for life and I haven't said I'll never eat another potato chip. Right now, though, I've found plenty of tasty alternatives that, along with a workout regimen, have helped me to lower my blood pressure, reduce my sugar and cholesterol numbers as well as my weight, all while enabling me to improve my energy, strength and endurance. I am becoming fit, not fat. Smirk all you want, but that sounds pretty good to a guy collecting Social Security.

Actually, I know that I'm not alone in this renewed interest in eating more healthful foods. Social media is awash in groups dedicated to more healthful eating. And supermarkets suddenly are offering dozens of varieties of chips and and other snack foods that are not just potatoes laced with salt. There are growing sections of organic, gluten-free and low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar products. Change is happening.

Of course, price remains a problem for some, which is not an accident. The chemical companies that control the world's food supply are not interested in having consumers switch from the addictive, salt, sugar, fat and chemical-filled products they advertise widely and sell cheaply in large quantities. In fact, they don't even want consumers to know what's in their products, or else why would they spend so much money fighting efforts to make them honestly label their goods, including whether they contain genetically modified ingredients? Healthy consumers are not good for the companies' bottom lines.

Yes, it can be a challenge reading labels these days to make sure what's being promised on the package is what's really inside. But like anything else regarding a significant change in how we live, a little bit of effort can bring big rewards.

I do not claim to be anything special with regard to this change in life style. If anything, this is a selfish decision on my part. I don't deny myself the joys of eating good food. I love pizza (just not as often as before and without pepperoni). I am a huge fan of frozen yogurt. Salsa and chips (no salt or low-salt) is still one of my favorites. Guacamole is a new one. Chicken, turkey (yes, I'll still accept a drumstick), seafood, sushi, beans, rice, yogurt and lots of greens, fruits and vegetables keep the menu from getting boring and keep me looking forward to many more years of healthy living.

So that's where I am today. And yes, Tofurkey will be on the menu again.

 

Bob Gaydos is a veteran of 40-plus years in daily newspapers. He began as police reporter with The (Binghamton, N.Y.) Sun-Bulletin, eventually covering government and politics as well as serving as city editor, features editor, sports editor and (more...)
 
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Sounds like a meal I had thanksgiving weekend. Thi... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 11:28:27 AM
Delicious article, Bob! I LOVE Tofurkey, started u... by Meryl Ann Butler on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 12:26:58 PM
Thanks, Meryl. The gluten-free pumpkin pie sounds ... by Bob Gaydos on Sunday, Dec 8, 2013 at 10:46:32 AM
Although I haven't eaten turkey meat for years, th... by Amy Schreiner on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 1:41:43 PM
Let's hope we're all on Bob's guest list next year... by Meryl Ann Butler on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 2:36:02 PM