(The following is a guest post from True North Homeschool Academy teacher Amber Fonseca.)
I can’t be the only homeschool mom that is attempting to host a tasty AND nutritious Thanksgiving dinner while trying to educate my little man… Oh! Did I mention that I also have a disability and my little is autistic bipolar? I know, I’m a little crazy, but I have a plan!
That’s the most important part of any Thanksgiving dinner, right? Having a plan makes things more manageable and allows you the ability to know where to adjust as the inevitable unplanned happenings occur. Yup, right up there with having a plan is the necessary skill of being able to adjust the plan when the unexpected happens. How? Well, everyone’s plan and backup plan will look different, but here are some helpful tools that anyone can adjust to fit into their own holiday preparations.
- Shop early – there will be things that you forget, but having the majority of your shopping done before the masses hit the grocery stores will lessen your stress and allow you to ensure everything on your list is available.
- Spread out the cooking – Don’t try to do all of the cooking in one day. I make my rolls first because I can put them in the freezer. Then I make things that don’t require refrigeration (brownies, even low-carb can sit on the counter for a couple of days with no problems). The ingredients (like eggs) will often come from the fridge, and you will slowly give yourself more space for things that MUST go in the fridge once you are done making them.
- Use your helpers! We homeschool. That means that while other children are still in school, ours are home and available to help. Younger kids can create decorations as you discuss why Thanksgiving exists, middle and older kids can help with the cooking. Home-economics at its finest!
- Don’t try to keep up with the three R’s. Yes, you can have your kids do the math associated with cooking; that isn’t what I mean. It is perfectly okay to take a few days away from written work and focus on relationships and family. I am far from being Super-mom, and there is no way that I can keep up with it all AND continue our regular class work.
- Enjoy your family. No matter how much pain I am in or how stressed I may be trying to figure out the carb counts associated with every meal I make, my goal is to enjoy spending time with my son and with my parents when they arrive.
These are just my top five recommendations, as a diabetic with other disabilities including RSD/CRPS and back damage, there are more items on my list. I don’t have the ability to stand and cook for hours and hours. I have to take breaks, I have to give myself time, and I have to accept that my body may not always cooperate.
Here are some added preparations for those of us with disabilities.
- Pre-plan your recipes AND your grocery list – knowing what you are cooking and what you need to purchase will make a HUGE difference as you move through your preparations.
- Order groceries delivered or for pick-up! Save your time and energy. Pick-up in most places doesn’t cost anything extra but makes a huge difference on your energy levels.
- Plan for easy meals, maybe even take-out, for the week leading into Thanksgiving. Your fridge is likely overrun with supplies for the big day, so planning easy meals like spaghetti (I have a low-carb high-protein pasta) or salads don’t use up the energy needed for cooking.
- Keep it easy – Don’t try to make two versions of everything. It is okay to have some foods that are not on your diet if you know the majority of the people coming will appreciate it and eat it. Meanwhile, other items can be replaced completely. Stuffing is replaceable here. I heard that gasp! Seriously though, my family grew up eating mashed potatoes over stuffing. This means that I can make Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and there is no need to make my amazing stuffing. If we had a larger group, I might, but this year the stuffing has been axed!
- Take your time and take breaks – I started cooking almost a week in advance. I made my rolls and put them in the freezer, then I made the cranberry sauce and put it in the freezer as well. Next, I will make my sweet potato casserole and the green bean casserole. I will wait until the big day before I add toppings at the last minute. Spreading out the different dishes allows me to better manage my pain levels. On the day of – the only thing I should have left will be the turkey.
Now that you know my lists, I have one more thing to share — a low-carb high-protein bread recipe that actually tastes AMAZING. I needed a recipe that let me think I was cheating with a good-ol’ yeasty roll slathered in butter, and this recipe let me do that while still controlling my blood sugars!
- 1 packet quick activated yeast
- *Mix these and set it aside*
- ½ cup softened butter
- ¾ cup sour cream
- ¾ cup ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 2 cups Almond Flour (set ½ cup aside)
- ¾ cup GF Flour (or regular if you aren’t gluten-free)
- ½ cup egg based unflavored protein powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ cup warm/hot water
Mix your dry ingredients in one bowl and then cut in the butter until the butter is mixed in and creates a fine crumble in the flours. In a separate bowl, blend together the sour cream, ricotta, and eggs. By this time, the yeast and water should be nice and frothy. Mix the yeast into the sour cream and egg mixture. Lastly, slowly add the flour ingredients into the liquid ingredients. The dough will likely still be a bit sticky. Mix/knead in the last ½ cup of almond flour. If the dough is still to wet to shape, you can add more almond flour, OR you can place it into a muffin pan and make muffin rolls. The dough can also be placed in a bread pan. Bake at 350 until the top and edges are lightly browned, and a knife comes out clean. Enjoy!
About Amber – Nobody knows the faith required to walk the home education path like a prior homeschool graduate turned homeschool mom. Often, when God calls us to walk in faith, the first step is the hardest. My parents took that step when I was in elementary school: they withdrew my public school enrollment and we started our homeschool journey. Years later, I graduated college armed with an English Language Arts degree, a teacher’s certification, and a passion for teaching English. Choosing to home educate my son meant that I would no longer be able to teach Lit & Comp, (College) Composition I and C.S. Lewis to high school students – or so I thought. I am excited for this amazing opportunity to share my passion for English with homeschool students online!