Cooking with Fibromyalgia

Enjoying Thanksgiving with Fibromyalgia

So, the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us! Let’s talk about how to make it a success when your dealing with Fibromyalgia!

What makes a holiday? Family? Food? Friends?

What makes it Thanksgiving? Family? Food? Friends? More food?

It goes without saying that food is the number one word associated with Thanksgiving. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie…these have become the norm on most American’s Thanksgiving tables.

But who makes it all?

Are you fortunate to have been invited to a relative or friends home to eat of the bounty that someone else has made? Or are you hosting your own Thanksgiving gathering? Will you be making the whole meal?

Okay, okay…no more questions…

Here is how my coming week will look, based on previous years:

I still have six children at home under age 22. My other kiddos and their spouses will be joining us, save our Navy son who will be spending the holiday in Norway. (yes, I am sad…)

I am a lister. That means I thrive on making lists of things to do and accomplishing each task and then drawing a line through it when its been completed. Thanksgiving week is no exception!

I start by making the menu, including breakfast and dessert items. Next, I make separate pages with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day written at the top of each one.

Under the day I write what needs to be done on each given day. This helps me to budget my time and allot for rest periods. I also decide what will be made from “scratch” and what will be store-bought.

For example, in my previous life (pre-Fibro) I always made homemade rolls. (Of course, I always made homemade breads and rolls throughout the year, so making them on Thanksgiving was not anything new to my family!) This is one area I “cheat” on by purchasing a bag of frozen dinner roll dough and put to rise early in the day and bake up 30 minutes prior to eating. No one really pays that close of attention and I saved myself a lot of work! (and pain).

If you’re a stuffing snob and simply must make it from scratch, then plan to bake the bread on Monday, bake the cornbread on Tuesday, slice the veggies and boil the eggs on Wednesday, and assemble on Thanksgiving. Otherwise just add some sautéed onions and celery to a box of stuffing mix and call it good!

If your making a casserole, prepare it a couple of days in advance and place in the fridge. Open a can of cranberry sauce! If you always made that from scratch and you don’t find the constant stirring tediously painful, go for it!

Ask for help! Most children want to help, anyway! Washing the dishes can be a HUGE help, whether you have Fibro or not!

I admit it. I am a pumpkin pie snob! I was raised on cooking down a freshly gutted pumpkin and pureeing it like apple sauce and either using right away or freezing for later pies. (Thanks, Mom!) Because of this I simply CANNOT eat a canned pumpkin pie. It’s awful. (Please, no hate emails!!!)

Because of this, I cook down my pumpkins the week before Thanksgiving and freeze in 3 cup increments for future pies. (to date we have cooked down enough for 32 pies throughout the year.) I still see some pumpkins in a line-up over there…

Here is my Thanksgiving cooking and baking schedule:

Thursday the week before Thanksgiving: ~take out turkey and place in fridge to defrost  ~Cook down pumpkins, puree’, bag and freeze

Friday: ~Make dough for 9 pies and freeze (or buy Pillsbury)

Saturday or Sunday: ~Make a meal which involves cornbread, save leftover cornbread and refrigerate-I did this Friday this year (Or buy Stove-top)

Monday: ~Take pumpkin puree’ out of the freezer  ~Clean house and REST-UP…(I’m gonna need it!)

Tuesday: ~Make pie crusts with recipe for 20 pies ~Cut up celery and onion for stuffing, boil eggs, lay out sliced bread to harden…REST ~Bake pumpkin pies with help (large family=5 pumpkin pies-you gotta have leftovers on pumpkin pie!!!)…REST~cook down cranberries, add sugar and thickener, let cool and refrigerate-my girls love to do this! (or buy a can of whole berry sauce) ~Mix together ingredients for hash brown casserole, which my girls also love to make, then refrigerate…REST ~Bake 1 Coconut cream pie-daughter helps, 1 Vanilla cream pie, another daughter helps and (if I can manage it), 1 Chocolate cream pie-you guessed it-another daughter helps…REST (and take some Motrin from all that stirring you helped do to save the mixtures from scorching!!) ~Plan to get take out for dinner that night-well deserved!

Wednesday: ~Bake 1 Apple pie-yes another daughter helps! ~Make Jell-o dessert (with help!)…REST ~Make Cranberry coffee cake-(my specialty)!  ~Make Cinnamon coffee cake-(me again!)…REST ~Assemble stuffing with help…REST(take Motrin to get you through…)  ~Make frozen pizza for dinner!!

Thanksgiving Day:  ~Inject 22 pound bird with herb-butter mixture and bake-(with much-needed help from son)…REST  ~let frozen bread rolls rise  ~make mashed potatoes-(wait, I have lots of peelers…now where are they???)…REST   ~bake stuffing  ~Cook other veggies   ~EAT and EAT and then REST (Have someone else wash those dishes!) Actually, I buy the disposable foil baking containers at Sam’s. They make cleanup a breeze! (Another Fibro trick…)

Okay, I am blessed with many “helpers” it is true. But that still is a lot of prep work and this body needs periodic REST breaks! I don’t mind taking the Motrin during times like this because it is not always like this. I also know that by Friday I will need some serious REST!

Please note that everything I do is for my husband and children. The pain can be intense, but I want them to have the best memories they possibly can-especially for the holidays! My silent tears when I finally collapse at night is a small price to pay for special memories. Just saying.

If you have to do all the cooking alone, I urge you to simplify!! Also, Please remember to pace yourself and also remember that Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things you are truly thankful for. The meal should be secondary!

Cook out of love and from your heart! Don’t be a slave to the cooking! If someone criticizes your pie crust or stuffing because it is store-bought, then send them packing! Do only what you can and understand if you over-do it you’ll pay the consequences! I try not to let my list overwhelm me. (Just re-reading this overwhelms me!! haha)

And always, always remember to

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May the Lord truly Bless your Thanksgiving Day with love and family!

God Bless-

~The Fibro Momma of Ten

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