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Talking turkey: Trim the fat or butter it up?

Staying home or dining out, options abound for holiday
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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Ah, Thanksgiving. Pots and pans simmering on the stove all day, holding the promise of delicious food sure to induce a tryptophan slumber by the end of the night. All that cooking is labor-intensive, expensive and comes with a lot of dishes, so for many families in Auburn, Thanksgiving is a time to let someone else do the work. Judi La Bonte and her crew are happy to step in. Lou La Bonte’s Restaurant has offered a traditional Thanksgiving buffet for 65 years, serving up roast turkey, prime rib, ham, salads, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie. “We just offer a nice family atmosphere,” La Bonte said. “It’s a homey atmosphere, a traditional atmosphere.” Dinner is served from 2-8 p.m., and La Bonte said it’s one of the restaurant’s busiest days of the year. In addition to couples and singles, many families have made Lou La Bonte’s a Thanksgiving tradition. “A lot of people want to entertain, but don’t want to entertain at home,” La Bonte said. The restaurant will serve between 20 and 30 turkeys this year, and La Bonte said that while prime rib and ham are popular choices, carved turkey is by far the most popular dish. Healthy options For many, Thanksgiving is a time to indulge. It’s hard to resist the lure of cranberry sauce, stuffing, buttery mashed potatoes and all the pie you can eat. But for others, Thanksgiving is just one more day to watch what they eat. Whether it’s diabetes, celiac disease or many other dietary issues, that holiday meal can end in suffering if not enough attention is paid to what’s going in the oven and on the plate. Auburn resident Dawn Adams, co-author of the blog Love’n Every Bite with Deborah Jordan, suffers from celiac disease, an intolerance to the gluten found in just about every traditional Thanksgiving dish. Growing up, she said, the holidays were traditional, and continued to be that way until her son, Arron, was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant. That, along with her own diagnosis two years ago, led to big changes in what her holiday table looks like. “Eat the way food is given to us in its natural form,” Adams advised. “Enhance that as much as possible, including more vegetables, more grains, cooking them in a natural way without all the marshmallows and brown sugar toppings with tons of butter.” By the time she was diagnosed with celiac disease, Adams said, she had done so much damage to the lining of her stomach that she was put on a six-month diet of brown rice, steamed vegetables and an animal protein source. Her first instinct was to buy a ton of packaged gluten-free foods, which are still heavily processed and actually resulted in weight gain for her. Now, through her journey and the evolution of her and Jordan's blog, she has an array of gluten-free, all-natural recipes to choose from. “I learned to eat food in its whole form, the way nature gave it to me,” Adams said. “There is this amazing bounty of food available to us that is naturally gluten-free.” Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at krissik@goldcountrymedia.com. Thanksgiving recipes Sautéed green beans with nibs A healthy side dish recommended by Dawn Adams of the blog Love’n Every Bite, co-authored by Deborah Jordan. From tcho.com – adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich 1 pound green beans, tips removed 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 tablespoons roasted cacao nibs, crushed 1 clove chopped garlic 2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Sea salt to taste Bring a large pot of salted water to boil; add the beans and cook four to five minutes until bright green and barely tender. Drain and dry on paper towels. Separately, in a very small saucepan, over medium heat sauté the garlic with the oil for five minutes. Lower heat and add the crushed cacao nibs for two to three minutes – do not simmer. Transfer the beans to a platter and toss with the crushed nibs, garlic and warm oil. Toss again with balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sea salt, to taste. Thanksgiving stuffing Max’s General Manager Don Zoccoli was willing to share the restaurant’s traditional Thanksgiving stuffing recipe. Keep in mind, this recipe is for enough stuffing to feed a crowd, but can be scaled down 12 bags crouton stuffing mix Six full stalks celery Six bunches parsley 10 large yellow onions 4 cups seasoned bread crumbs 10 cups sliced mushrooms 3 cups Parmesan cheese 2 cups chicken broth 3 cups raisins 2 cups applesauce ¼ to ½ cup ground sage Dozen eggs Salt and pepper to taste Granulated garlic to taste. Put the crouton stuffing mix in a large bowl or two. Chop celery, parley and onions, sautee with mushrooms in olive oil. Add to bowl. Add applesauce, raisins, Parmesan and chicken broth. Season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Add eggs and mix. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Dining out for Thanksgiving Here are some Auburn restaurants offering holiday meals Nov. 24 Latitudes When: Noon to 5 p.m. Where: 130 Maple St. No. 200, Auburn Cost: $39 for adults, $15 for children Reservations: (530) 885-9535 Lou La Bonte’s When: 2-8 p.m. Where: 13460 Lincoln Way, Auburn Cost: $23.95 for adults, $10.95 for kids 10 and under and senior citizens get a 10 percent discount Reservations: (530) 885-9193 Max’s When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Where: 110 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn Cost: $24.95 for adults, $12.95 for children 10 and under, free for children 4 and under and adults 90 and older Reservations: (530) 888-6100 Monkey Cat When: 2-8 p.m. Where: 805 Lincoln Way, Auburn Cost: $25 Reservations: www.monkeycat.com. Sierra Grill When: Noon until the food runs out Cost: $9.99 Where: 13360 Lincoln Way, Auburn Reservations: (530) 745-0341