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Finalizing Your Thanksgiving Menu? Try This MD's Go-To Alternative To Stuffing

Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., MBA
Integrative Medicine By Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., MBA
Integrative Medicine
Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., M.B.A. practices Integrative Medicine combining traditional Western medicine with acupuncture, mind-body medicine, botanicals, nutrition, and lifestyle optimization and is the author of Plants First.
wild rice stuffing with apples and herbs in a cast iron pot
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This recipe made its first appearance alongside our roasted turkey at Christmas dinner after my husband and I both decided we didn't like the traditional bread stuffing we had made at Thanksgiving. Any whole grain will work, but I like the flavor and nuttiness of long-grain wild rice.

Interestingly, wild rice is not actually rice at all but a species of grass grown near freshwater that produces a seed that is cooked like rice. Wild rice has about 30 times more antioxidant activity than white rice and a lot more fiber, too.

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It's also a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make, but similar to other whole grains, it has only about 4 grams of protein per half-cup serving. If you want to add protein and more immune-boosting nourishment, cook your whole grains in bone broth.

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Harvest Wild Rice With Apples, Sage & Goji Berries

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium crunchy green apple, finely chopped (do not peel)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon white miso
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup dried goji berries
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 scallion, chopped, for garnish
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Method

  1. Cook the rice with a tiny pinch of salt according to the Hearty Whole Grains recipe (below) until it cracks open and begins to curl, about 45 minutes. Drain the excess water and fluff the rice with a fork. (You can prepare the wild rice in advance and rewarm it before adding it in Step 2.)
  2. When the rice is nearly done, heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until tender, about 1 minute. Add the apple, sesame oil, miso, herbs, and goji berries, and sauté for another minute or so. Add the cooked rice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the chopped scallion.

Whole Hearty Grains

Makes 2 to 4 cups, depending on the grain

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole grain of choice
  • 1½ to 4 cups bone broth or vegetable stock
  • Small pinch of fine sea salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon healthy oil of choice (optional)

Method

  1. In a large strainer or colander, rinse the whole grain well under cool water until the water runs mostly clear. 
  2. If using a rice cooker, combine the rinsed whole grain, liquid, and a small pinch of salt, if desired, in the rice cooker. Turn on the rice cooker and choose the correct cooking setting. The rice cooker will automatically turn off when done. Keep the lid on to allow the grain to continue steaming for 10 to 15 minutes to prevent stickiness and encourage fluffiness.
  3. If using the stovetop method, combine the rinsed whole grain, liquid, and a small pinch of salt, if desired, in a medium saucepan and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the grain is tender and the water is absorbed, 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the grain used. Remove the pan from the heat, keeping the lid on to allow the grain to continue steaming for 10 to 15 minutes to prevent stickiness and encourage fluffiness.
  4. Add a teaspoon of healthy oil to the cooked grain, if desired. Using a rice cooker spoon or wooden spatula, fluff the rice before serving.

Excerpted with permission from Plants First: A Physician's Guide to Wellness Through a Plant-Forward Diet by Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., MBA.

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