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
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.
- Advertisement -
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
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
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
So that's where I am today. And yes, Tofurkey will be on the
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...)