Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday. It’s a day to count our blessings and be thankful for all of the goodness we have in our lives… especially given the challenges we’ve faced over the past few years.
Thanksgiving has always been a day to remember what we are thankful for, to be with family and loved ones, and to prepare and enjoy delicious food together. In the last few years, our celebrations have been much smaller, but this year, we are hoping to celebrate with family, including both sets of Dimitry’s grandparents. 🙂
I encourage you to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the gifts that 2023 brought us, and be thankful for loved ones — even if you’re connecting virtually.
Here are seven gifts that I like to reflect upon and be thankful for.
1. Opportunities to Stay Healthy
My husband and I started making our own version of Thanksgiving dinner right after we got married.
Over the last few years, as I have changed my diet from the Standard American Diet to a gluten-free/dairy-free diet, then a Paleo diet, then my own diet, our Thanksgiving dinner has evolved quite a bit!
I am grateful for my supportive friends and family who have gone out of their way to make special meals and take me to special restaurants, but I know not all individuals with Hashimoto’s have these types of supportive people in their lives.
Making Thanksgiving dinner on our own terms takes away the pressure of “eating what everyone else is eating.”
I feel so blessed to be where I am today, compared to where I was at the beginning of my Hashimoto’s journey.
Back then, I slept under two blankets in my Los Angeles apartment, had constant brain fog, needed 11 hours of sleep to feel rested, was anxious all the time, was losing my hair, had carpal tunnel in both hands, and was addicted to caffeine and sugar.
I felt that I couldn’t do anything, but…
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it became a butterfly.”
This quote inspired me throughout my Hashimoto’s journey.
When I first received this diagnosis, I thought my life was over.
I now realize that Hashimoto’s has made me a better person, the person I am today.
Mark Hyman, MD once said: “I didn’t choose this type of lifestyle, my body chose for me” — and this really resonates with me.
I now realize that it was my lifestyle that had everything to do with me getting an autoimmune condition.
I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to share my health journey with all of you, and hope that my experience helps you on your journey.
I am fortunate that my health has been stable, and I can usually solve any of my health issues with a few simple tweaks, but I only wish I could do the same for the health of the world. It’s easy to get stuck in a negative pattern, feel sorry for ourselves, and start to believe that the world is hopeless.
If thought patterns like this go on for too long, they can consume us.
I have found that one of the fastest ways to shift our mindset is with a gratitude practice: instead of constantly focusing on all of the things that are wrong, we focus on what we are thankful for each day. I encourage you to start a gratitude practice this month!
A few years ago, I started to teach our son about gratitude, using the Thankful Turkey from Busy Toddler. The first three things he was thankful for were Batman, Superman, and Wonderwoman, but I am pleased to say that by day two, he was thankful for mommy, and by day three, he was thankful for daddy… so I think he’s getting the idea. 🙂
3. An Opportunity to Connect
Over the years, my hubby and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our house with family from around the continent (Chicago, Louisiana, Canada, Texas, and Colorado), and attended Thanksgiving celebrations at the homes of like-minded friends and family, like fellow gluten-free and Paleo cookbook authors Leanne Ely from Saving Dinner, Magdalena Wszelaki from Hormones Balance, and Amanda Nowosadzki from Clean Southern Cuisine.
This year, we’re excited to have Thanksgiving with both sets of Dimitry’s grandparents! The last time this happened was when he was 6 months old. 🙂
4. An Opportunity to Try Something New
As much as I love the holidays, sometimes they feel like extra pressure. Why not spice things up a little by cooking something new?
This year, I’m going to be remaking some of my mother-in-law’s family recipes, including some baked goods, as gluten and dairy free versions! Baking is my favorite de-stressing activity…
A few years ago, my sister-in-law Amanda developed an amazing gluten-free biscuit recipe that has been a HIT every Thanksgiving we’ve had together!
Caramelized Onion and Rosemary Biscuits (GF/DF)
You and your loved ones will absolutely not believe that these decadent biscuits are gluten- and dairy-free! They’re a perfect accompaniment to any meal.
Whether you are celebrating a holiday or not, you can count on one thing: these biscuits will be the talk of the table. The sweet and savory caramelized onions and piney rosemary pair perfectly with the light, fluffy biscuit texture!
Yields: 10 large biscuits
- 2 cups Clean Southern Cuisine gluten-free flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 2/3 cup palm shortening*
- 1/2 cup caramelized onions, chopped small
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon rice milk (plain, unsweetened)
- 2 large eggs*
- Place palm shortening in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
- Whisk the first four ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Using a pastry blender or fork, cut the palm shortening into the flour mixture until the shortening pieces are pea-sized.
- Whisk in the rosemary and caramelized onions, ensuring the onions don’t stick together too much.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and rice milk, then pour this mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Stir until a dough just forms. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, to allow the flour to fully absorb the moisture.
- Using a muffin scoop or large ice cream scoop, transfer the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 375°F for 12-14 minutes, or until the bottoms of the biscuits begin to brown.
*For a buttery flavor, you can substitute ghee or butter (if tolerated) for half of the palm shortening.
*If you cannot tolerate eggs, you can substitute 2 flax eggs for real eggs. To make flax eggs, combine 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal with 6 tablespoons of water and allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes, prior to using. This substitution will also make the recipe vegan.
Amanda published her very first cookbook, Clean Southern Cuisine: Where Southern Food Comes Clean!, three years ago, and I’ve been loving her Southern-inspired recipes. 🙂
She has also developed a gluten-free flour blend that substitutes one-for-one for wheat flour in baking — I’ve been using it in some of my old favorite recipes!
Whether we are hosting or bringing a few dishes to share, it’s really important (and fun) to make something tasty and nutritious that everyone can enjoy!
Why not try out a new recipe this year?
5. An Opportunity to Continue Traditions
In previous years, I would start my Thanksgiving menu planning early to accommodate various dietary preferences (Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Standard American Diet, etc.) at my table.
I’ve always had a proven process of starting my meal planning, shopping, and cooking a few days early, so that I could relax on Thanksgiving, while hubby made the turkey. 🙂
I’m excited to share our menu, recipes, and shopping list with all of you!
All of the recipes are gluten-, dairy-, soy- and grain-free, as well as nutrient-dense.
Wishing you all a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!
6. An Opportunity for Introspection and Refocusing
When we get busy, we tend to become disconnected — from our family, our life’s purpose, or our own needs. I feel like the slowing down and change of pace of the holidays always presents an opportunity for reflection as to what matters most to us, and to tune into the small changes we can make to bring ourselves a little more joy, healing, and peace.
I hope that Thanksgiving gives you this opportunity to get a little quiet and introspective, and refocus on the things that matter most to you.
This time of year, I’m always thinking about the highs and lows, and what I want the next year to look like.
7. Opportunities to Give Thoughtful Gifts
While I know that the most important aspect of the holidays is certainly not material, I still love giving thoughtful, healthy, and practical gifts to loved ones.
And at the same time, it’s so rewarding to be able to choose gifts that are wellness-focused, useful, sustainable/eco-friendly, and sourced from ethical businesses. It feels good to me to be able to support small businesses which I believe are doing good things for the world, instead of giving (and receiving) junk that does no good for our bodies or the planet.
I used to bake holiday cookies and send tons of them to everyone on my gift list, and get my husband the latest cologne. Family members never had a hard time picking out gifts for me… I loved “scented” everything! Once I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and had to change my diet and lifestyle (I cut sugar, gluten, and dairy, and removed toxic substances from my life), both giving and receiving became more challenging at first — but over time it has actually become much more rewarding.
I know now that being health conscious doesn’t mean we can’t give or receive fun holiday gifts! Plus, thank goodness there are a lot more healthy, thyroid-friendly, and ethical gifts to choose from these days. 😉
I want to help it make it easier for you to choose thoughtful, healthy gifts for your loved ones. Here are a few of my top all-around choices for holiday gifts, but check out my resources page too, as there are a TON of great ideas there!
- Sunlighten Saunas – For that “relax and chill” friend who is just as obsessed with the idea of a home sauna as you are – see my link for discounted rates!
- Zeel on-demand massages – Send a massage to a loved one for a day of relaxation! Get a same-day, in-home massage with a few taps of the Zeel app, or book via their website. They also do gift certificates! You can use my personal Zeel invite code, 9qa2, and get $20 off your first Zeel massage.
- Dry Farm Wines – A healthier alternative to traditional alcohol, natural and organic family farmed wines that are low in alcohol, statistically sugar/carb free, low in sulfites, and additive free. (You can also pair your wine with PureWine Wands, which remove sulfites and histamines that often lead to headaches, fatigue, congestion, upset stomach, and hangovers. They’re offering a special discount to my readers, for 20% off your order using code THYROID20.)
- Pranamat – This company designs eco-friendly, hand-crafted acupressure massage products that are clinically proven to help with thyroid-related health issues, including migraines, (back) pain, fatigue, and anxiety. Use this link or enter the code DRWENTZ for 15% off!
- Blue Light Therapy Lamp – Don’t let the winter blues get you down! Blue light therapy has been clinically shown to reduce the winter blues and give you more energy in the winter.
- Annmarie Skin Care Sample Kit – Here’s a super cool and affordable stocking stuffer idea for someone who loves trying natural beauty products.
- AquaTru – AquaTru countertop reverse osmosis water filter is one of the only countertop filters that removes fluoride, which can be especially toxic for those with Hashimoto’s (read more about that here).
- Truedark – Help friends and loved ones get a healthier sleep with Truedark products that block blue from electronic devices which can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin and disrupt the body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm). Get 10% off your purchase when you use code IZABELLA at checkout! (P.S. They also have gift cards!)
- Rootcology Protein Powders offer exceptional nutrition and are made with clean and thyroid-friendly ingredients – perfect for your smoothie-loving, clean-eating friends!
For more recipes, a FREE Thyroid Diet start guide, and notifications about upcoming events, be sure to sign up for my email list! I also encourage you to join my Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest community pages to stay on top of thyroid health updates and meet others who are following similar health journeys.