Food for Thought
By Maggie Yang
Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated days of the year for many families. Everyone comes together to enjoy time with family and friends, but the highlight of the day is always gathering around a table to enjoy a classic Thanksgiving meal. Candied yams, macaroni and cheese, honey baked ham, turkey, dressing and stuffing are all dishes that an average American would not even hesitate to dig in to on Thanksgiving day. However, as a professional athlete, taking care of one’s body is one of the most important aspects of the game. Therefore, many athletes including the Memphis Grizzlies are not able to indulge like most do on the holiday. So what do the Grizzlies eat and why do they eat the way they do?
“Some of the reasons why we try and fuel the guys the way that we do in the kitchen is to optimize their performance as much as possible,” says Stephen McAfee, Memphis Grizzlies Team Head Chef. “This is the first season that we’re going gluten free. There have been a lot of studies that show that gluten causes inflammation in your gut and because of that, we have taken gluten out of the kitchen. Also, high protein is important to help the high stress levels that the players’ muscles are going through. The muscles are constantly getting broken down. The building blocks for your muscles are going to be pretty simple. It’s going to be protein. We want to build it back up as much as we possibly can through the foods they put in their body.”
This Thanksgiving, McAfee not only strives to prepare healthy, gluten free options for the players, but he also aims to make a healthier spin on some classic homemade dishes. “The most effective way to have a healthier Thanksgiving is to try and make all of your recipes at home instead of just sticking to the boxes and cans,” says McAfee. “In the Grizzlies kitchen this year, we’ll do turkey and a healthier version of stuffing. Instead of a sugar filled sweet potato dish, mine is more savory. It has garlic, brown sugar, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. That way, it’s still tasty for the guys, but not nearly as sugary.”
Eat like the Grizzlies, and try a couple of Chef Stephen’s recipes at home!
Gluten Free Stuffing
- 3 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 c. Onion diced
- 2 c. Celery finely diced
- 1/4 c. Garlic minced
- 1 Loaf Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread cut into large cubes* (about 14 slices)
- 1 2/3 c. Chicken broth
- 4 tsps. Fresh parsley minced
- 1 tsp. Poultry seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. Sage powder
- Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium/high heat. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and soft, about 8-10 minutes
- Place the cut bread cubes into a large mixing bowl, and add in the cooked mixture. Toss to mix well and evenly coat the bread in the mixture.
- Pour the chicken broth over the cubes and gently mix until they're evenly moistened.
- Add in the fresh parsley, poultry seasoning, sage powder and a few pinches of pepper and gently toss to mix the spices evenly among the bread cubes. Transfer to the casserole dish.
- Bake until the top of the stuffing is lightly crisp and golden brown, about 50-60 minutes.
Easy at Home Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars
- 2 1/2 c. crushed pecans
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/3 c. ghee, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1 15- oz. can pumpkin
- 1 12- oz. can evaporated milk
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9”-x-9” square baking pan.
- Crush pecans into fine crumbs inside a large re-sealable plastic bag using a rolling pin. Combine Pecans, melted ghee, sugar, and salt and blend until combined. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of the greased baking pan. Bake until beginning to turn golden, about 5-6 minutes. Let cool while you make filling. Turn the oven temperature up to 425 degrees.
- Make filling. Beat all filling ingredients together until smooth. Pour filling into crust and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake about 35 minutes longer or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate until chilled.