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A Personalized Thanksgiving Menu for Special Eaters

Thanksgiving 2019 in Texas. Maggie was (briefly) a turkey and Hazel wore her birthday shirt.

I love planning and cooking holiday meals, especially Thanksgiving. I will watch holiday-inspired episodes on The Food Network, and experiment with a variety of recipes. My favorite way of planning for Thanksgiving is to plan for a large number of extended family. The more people, the more dishes I could create. This gives me a chance to play with fancy culinary combinations while still leaving room on the menu for kid-friendly classics.

This year, Thanksgiving for a family of four poses different challenges. We’re opting for classics, not experimental recipes. Maggie is on the keto diet to treat her seizures. I have Celiac and making gluten-free foods is not a problem for me, but there are a couple of mismatches between what Andy would like for Thanksgiving dinner and what I would like.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving sides is sweet potatoes. I love them. I could go for the sweet potatoes with marshmallow casserole (as a holiday treat, not as a regular meal), or eat them straight. Either way, they are simply delicious to me. However, Andy dislikes sweet potatoes. Next to oatmeal, those are the two foods he loathes. My solution to the great potato debate is to bake them. Andy will have his baked Russet potato and I will have my baked sweet potato without there needing to be more fuss or muss to our spud sides.

Andy also requested Stouffer’s turkey-flavored stuffing. Yes, this is a gluten-filled side dish. No, he does not want a gluten-free version. He wants all the gluten. It’s the one time I deliberately make a gluten side in my kitchen. He and Hazel can enjoy all the gluten, so he won’t be eating the stuffing on his own.

For vegetables, I opted for classic green beans. First of all, both kids like green beans. I’m not going to make a casserole because it will be more difficult to plate Maggie’s keto dish. Instead, I’m going to blanch them, use a little melted butter, and top with sliced almonds. That’s it. Easy, simple, and keto-friendly.

For dessert, I originally thought about making pecan pie. Andy likes pumpkin as much as he likes sweet potatoes, so that was never on the menu. Too much sugar, he said. What about apple pie? he suggested. I wasn’t feeling apple, even though I normally love apples. How about cherry? he asked. I love cherry, for Christmas, but for my palate, cherry does not mesh with Thanksgiving flavors. Instead, I had a new idea that fits with our personalized plates: tartlets.

A tartlet is like a mini pie. I could make regular pie crust (using gluten-free flour), shape them into little balls, place each ball in a buttered muffin tin, press down with my fingers, and fill with whatever. The beauty of making tartlets is they are also freezer-friendly. I can make a batch of cherry tartlets and pecan tartlets then freeze the extras for future snacking. I would want Maggie to enjoy a dessert as well. For Maggie, I’m going to make a very special tartlet. Using almond flour and butter, that will be the crust. I’ll use pecans, stevia, and cinnamon to make the filing. Hers will look more bonbon sized than muffin-sized, but Maggie will get to enjoy her keto pecan pie dessert, sans corn syrup.

Andy’s plate:

Turkey, baked potato, stuffing, green beans, and cherry tartlet

Maggie’s (keto) plate:

Turkey, green beans, and keto pecan tartlet

Hazel’s plate:

A little of EVERYTHING: Turkey, baked potato, sweet potato, stuffing, green beans, and whichever tartlet she points to.

My plate:

Turkey, sweet potato, green beans, and pecan pie tartlet


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