Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. A celebration of food? Sign me up! My partner and I tend to hijack the meal planning regardless of whether we spend Thanksgiving with her family or mine. This year we are sticking close to home and spending the day with my mom's side of the family...and thankfully she was happy to have us exert control of the situation, so to speak.
Heather is out picking up our free-range turkey from Callister Farm by way of the Braucher's at Sunshine Harvest Farm, which she will grill on Thursday with garlic, rosemary, and other herbs and spices. My sister is making this delicious orange cranberry sauce, my mom is whipping up her awesome pumpkin pie, and my step-sister is in charge of the smashed potatoes.
I am baking.
I can whip up a meal out of anything, but baking is not my forte. It is my goal to change that.
We had dinner last night with some of Heather's co-workers, one of which (our hostess) took a hiatus from the legal profession to hone her mad skills as a baker before taking her current position. Her advice: follow the recipe.
The trick is that baked goods, while delicious, also tend to have some less attractive characteristics: refined flours, denatured fats, and sugar to name a few. To ameliorate my affections for baked goods, I strive to improve their nutritional value when I make them. I replace all-purpose flour with whole wheat or substitute whole grain flours like chickpea, quinoa, or millet flour. In place of vegetable or canola oil, I use coconut oil, pasture-raised butter, or lard. And, I skimp the sweet stuff and use honey, maple syrup, or maple sugar instead of cane or beet sugar.Sometimes this works out, and sometimes it does not.
Follow the recipe? That sounds so simple, but I don't know if I will comply.
You see, I cook for people as an expression of my love for them. I want to fill their bellies with clean, nutritious, and ethical foods that they'll enjoy and be nourished by. I know too much about nutrition, health, and our food system to feel good about doing otherwise.
So, as I flour my rolling pin to make sweet potato dinner rolls (recipe below), I will be pouring love into these dough wads, using the best, most nutritious ingredients I can find. And hoping it turns out ok.
Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
photo c/o My Story in Recipes. This recipe comes from my favorite cookbook, From Asparagus to Zucchini (If you don't already have it, buy it!).
What you need:
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 cup cooked and mashed organic sweet potato, cooled
1/2 cup pasture-raised butter, melted
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup scalded pasture-raised milk, cooled
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
5-6 cups organic flour (half AP flour, half whole wheat, or Bob's Red Mill's GF flour)
additional melted butter
Here's what you do:
- Stir 1/4 cup warm water with 1 tablespoon sugar and the yeast; let stand for 15 minutes for it to activate.
- Meanwhile, mix mashed sweet potatoes, melted butter, salt, sugar, milk, and egg in a large bowl. Stir yeast mixture into sweet potato mixture.
- Stir in just enough flour to form a stiff dough. Turn mixture onto floured surface and knead until dough is elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Grease a large mixing bowl, place dough in it, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Punch down and knead dough again briefly to know out air bubbles.
- Cut dough into 2-inch wads and form each wad into a ball, pinching dough to seal it at the bottom of the ball. Brush each dough ball with a little melted butter and place dough on cookie sheets, sealed side down. Allow rolls to double again in size, about 1 hour.
- Heat over to 375 degrees; bake rolls 10-12 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen rolls.
Jesse Haas, CNS, LN is a licensed functional nutritionist and certified health coach. She was a founding partner of Wellness Minneapolis and was an active practitioner with the clinic from 2014-2022. To connect with her regarding functional nutrition and health coaching services, please follow this link.