When I was young, my family would spend most Thanksgivings at my grandparents’ farm in Carney, MI. When we were all there for the holiday, the little farm house would be packed with eight adults and seven kids. Their farm was a secluded place on 900 acres of forest land. As a kid, it seemed like a magical place. My fondest memories are of us all sitting down to a big family dinner. My grandmother, mother, and aunt would be busy all day cooking and getting ready for our dinner. It did not reflect the vegan, organic, whole-foods lifestyle I now live, but the food was made with love, and all from scratch.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes was stuffing. I have created my healthier version, also made from scratch, and cooked with love. This recipe, along with many of my best holiday recipes, can be found in my new cookbook, Year Round Healthy Holiday Dishes, along with stories of my childhood memories spending holidays at my grandparents’ U.P. farm, and the foods I remember as a kid, now made with a healthier twist.
Sprouted grain bread is a heavier, nutrient-rich choice for your stuffing.
It has higher protein content, and the sprouted grain is high in fiber, and digests slower than flour. Some people with blood sugar issues find the slower process of digesting sprouted grains stabilizes their blood sugar levels. If you have digestive issues, sprouted grains may not cause the bloating that can occur from bread made with flour. If you follow a gluten-free diet, you can substitute your favorite gluten-free bread. The addition of the short grain brown rice adds a creamy texture and all its strong antioxidant health benefits.
Shiitake mushrooms add a tremendous amount of flavor to the stuffing. Cooking the dried mushrooms with the brown rice is the key to this stuffing being so delicious. When you cook shiitake mushrooms with brown rice, you create a powerful cancer-fighting combo. Polysaccharides compounds found in the rice bran in brown rice, when eaten with the enzymes in shiitake mushrooms, have shown they can destroy cancer cells.
Whole Grain Bread Stuffing
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups water
1 onion (diced)
3 celery stalks (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tsp. sage
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. marjoram
4 T. tamari
1 T. toasted sesame oil
Approximately 3/4 loaf of sprouted whole grain bread
Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms for 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and cut in thin slices, removing and discarding the stems. Use 2 cups of the soaking water to cook the brown rice, adding the sliced shiitake and brown rice, then bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Reduce to the lowest possible temperature, cover, and simmer for one hour. Meanwhile, sauté the onions in a little toasted sesame oil with a dash of tamari until translucent. Remove from pan and put in a large mixing bowl. Using the same sauté pan, sauté the celery and garlic for a couple of minutes and add them to the mixing bowl. Put some water in a shallow bowl. Soak the bread slices in the water for a minute, break them up with your hands, and add to the mixing bowl. When brown rice is done, add to the bowl. Add the sage, thyme, marjoram, tamari, and 1 T. toasted sesame oil, and mix all together. Put in a casserole dish, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and serve warm.
Article adapted from Year Round Healthy Holiday Cooking, copyright 2019, Valerie Wilson.
Chef Valerie Wilson, a.k.a, Macro Val, has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. Visit her website to purchase her new cookbook, Year Round Healthy Holiday Cooking, set up a phone consultation, or listen to her radio show, http://www.macrval.com. Facebook, Macro Val Food.
Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.