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Tana’s Holiday Turkey and Trimmings

By Tana Amen

Holidays don’t have to be boring. But have you ever noticed that “flu season” always seems to strike during the holidays? One of the most obvious explanations is the extreme change in our diet. Most people use the holidays as an excuse to to gorge themselves on excessive amounts of sugar, fat and salt.  In excess these foods trigger an inflammatory response, leading to a breakdown in the ability of your body to fight disease. Typically what I see served at most holiday dinners is lots of fatty, sugary foods, and one token vegetable dish (and even that is usually covered with salt and sugar). I recently read that Thanksgiving is the day of the year when the most heart attacks happen.  Reportedly, people eat up to 4,000 calories on this day of gratitude. This is a tremendous burden for any body.

The secret to feeling fabulous during the holidays is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. How does this look on your holiday table? In the Amen household it means we have a beautiful turkey in the middle of the table, surrounded by a variety of delicious vegetable dishes and salads (candied yams don’t count as a vegetable!). We continue to follow the 70/30 rule... 70% water rich, live foods, and 30% concentrated foods.  Try roasted yams with cinnamon and cranberries instead of candied yams, mashed cauliflower “potatoes,” clever kale salad, etc.

Here’s an example of a typical Amen Family Holiday Meal:

Tana’s Marinated Turkey

** The turkey recipe can be adapted to roasted chicken. Cut ingredients in half and marinate according to same instructions. Preheat oven to 425 and roast for an hour and a half.  Keep chicken breast side down for the first hour and turn over for the final 30 minutes.

This recipe requires marinating the turkey for 6- 24 hours prior to cooking.


  • 1- 12 Pound Free range, hormone free, antibiotic free turkey
  • 1/2 Cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp  minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely choped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt (or according to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Pepper (or according to taste)

Preparation to be done the day before cooking:

  1. Start with a fully thawed turkey. Remove innards from cavity (set aside for stuffing if you choose) and rinse turkey well.  Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. “Deglove” the skin from the turkey, being carful not to remove the skin from the turkey.  You just want to separate the skin from the meat.  Try not to puncture the skin.  The skin will remain attached at the legs attachment points.
  3. Mix  all ingredients in the marinade with a whisk prior to marinating the turkey.
  4. Evenly apply the marinade around the turkey meat, under the skin with clean hands (always being careful to handle ALL meat with clean hands and not touch anything else prior to washing).  Be sure to apply a thick coat of marinade.
  5. Apply a final, thin coat of marinade to the inside cavity of the turkey and the outer skin.   If you don’t have enough left, you may choose to use sea salt with a little olive oil.
  6. Cover turkey and refrigerate overnight.

Preparation for the day to be served:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place turkey, breast down (for the most moist breast meat) in a roasting pan or directly on the lower rack above a roasting pan.
  3. Cooking time varies, but a general rule is about 15 minutes for every pound.
  4. After 30 minutes, reduce the cooking temperature to 350 degrees for the next two hours, then reduce it again to 250 degrees for the remaining time.
  5. Use a baster to retrieve juices from the bottom of the pan and baste the turkey every 30 minutes or so.  If there are not enough drippings you may use a little raw, organic melted butter mixed with chicken broth (optional).
  6. Use a meat thermometer to insure the meat is fully cooked.  The white meat should have a temperature of about 165 degrees.
  7. For the last 20 minutes of cooking time turn the turkey over and turn the temperature up to 300 degrees.  This will brown the skin of the breast.

** I don’t add stuffing to the turkey when cooking because it increases the cooking time too much.  You certainly can but plan to put your turkey in the oven very early.  Serves 12

Even though the nutritional information reflects a high fat value, remember that most of the marinade was discarded with the drippings... unless you choose to consume it as gravy!

Smarter Stuffing

Go easy on the stuffing! It’s a great vegetarian dish, but it’s carb heavy and designed to be eaten as a condiment.


  • 1-2 Tbsp of Earth Balance (butter replacement)
  • 2 Cups stuffing bread (you may even try making your own from gluten free or whole grain bread)
  • 1/2 Cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 Cup celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Cup chopped apple
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins or cranberries
  • 2 Cups low sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • Add fresh herbs and spices as desired.  Some of my favorites are:
    • 1-2 tsp fresh thyme
    • 1-2 tsp fresh rosemary
    • 1-2 tsp fresh marjoram
    • 1 tsp allspice.
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Over medium heat, melt earth balance. Add carrots and onions for one minute.  Add celery and garlic for 2 more minutes or until slightly soft. Add apple for one minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl mix bread stuffing, veggies and apple, raisins (or cranberries) and walnuts. Toss together with a little salt and pepper, and your favorite herbs.
  4. Add broth until moist. Do not add too much so that mixture is soaking.
  5. Grease a baking dish with oil or earth balance (or butter) and place stuffing mixture in dish. Cover and bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook additional 10 minutes.
  6. Stuffing should have a nice crisp texture on top.

**I prefer making this dish totally vegetarian for those who do not eat meat, you can certainly add your own touch.
Serves 6

Clever Kale Slaw


  • 3 cups shredded Kale or Swiss Chard
  •  ½ cup shredded green cabbage
  • ½  cup shredded purple cabbage
  • *option: use 1 Cup prepackaged coleslaw mix instead of cabbage
  • ¼ cup shredded carrot
  • ½ Cup chopped raw cashews
  • ½ Cup Vegannaise
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ pkt Stevia (optional)
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried)
  • 1/3 tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ Cup dried cranberries


  1. Combine Kale, cabbage, carrot, and nuts
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine Vegannaise, vinegar, stevia, spices, oregano and thyme.  Whisk until mixture is blended well.
  3. Toss with salad mix.
  4. Allow salad to refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving if possible so flavors can “marry”.

*Option:  Try combining above ingredients for dressing, from vinegar down (except Vegannaise) in a blender or food processor with ¼ cup sesame oil and ½ Cup raw peanuts or almonds (I’m not a big fan of peanuts, but they give great flavor to the dressing). Puree and pour over salad blend. Toss well.

Top with sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes


  • 1 Head of Cauliflower
  • 2 Cups Vegetable broth or water
  • ¼ Cup soy milk or unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water
  • Real salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Optional: 2 Tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 2 Cups Spinach
  • ¼ Cup sunflower seeds


  1. Pour vegetable broth into a medium pot.  Put cauliflower florets in pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

    If you prefer using water, then steam cauliflower in a steamer basket being sure not to allow the water to bath the cauliflower.  If steaming, cook until fork tender, about 8 minutes.
  2. While cauliflower is cooking, combine soy or almond milk, earth balance, garlic, Italian seasoning, and rosemary in a small saucepan over medium heat.  When it reaches a boil add the cornstarch/ water mixture, STIRRING CONSTANTLY until it is thickened and smooth.   Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Drain as much liquid from cauliflower as possible and place florets in a food processor or blender, blending on high for about a minute.  Add sauce and blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Spice with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add sunflower seeds and chives if desired. Serve hot over a bed of spinach and serve with Grilled Vegetables.

Sassy Cucumber Mint Salad


  • 4 small Persian cucumbers or 2 larger cucumbers, cut into thin slices
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ Cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ Cup edamame (shelled and cooked)
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • 1 garlic clove or shallot, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil or peanut oil
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar (with no sugar added)
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium Soy sauce OR 2 tsp Braggs Liquid
  • 2 teaspoon fresh ginger root, diced or grated*
  • ½  tsp salt
  • ¼  tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds (found in the Asian section of most supermarkets)


  1. In a blender, put tahini, garlic (or shallot), vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper.  Blend briefly.
  2. While blender is running add oil in a slow stream.  Set dressing aside.
  3. In a salad bowl, toss together, cucumbers, red pepper, tomatoes, edamame and carrot.
  4. Either dish salad mix into bowls and drizzle a small amount of salad onto each salad or toss dressing into the entire salad mix before dishing.
  5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Warm Sweet Potato Pudding


  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bosc pear, cored and cubed
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup macadamia nuts
  • 2 Tbsp coconut butter
  • 1tbs unsweetened coconut flakes


  1. Fill the bottom of a large pot with water.  Place a steamer basket in the bottom of a large pot, making sure that the basket isn’t covered with water. Bring the water to a full boil.   Add the sweet potatoes and pear to the steamer basket. Cover and steam the sweet potatoes and pear until very tender, about 10- 15 minutes.
  2. Put pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until they are a fine consistency.
  3. Add steamed sweet potatoes, pear,  cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup to the processor and mix until all ingredients are well blended and smooth.
  4. Sprinkle with coconut flakes and serve warm.

Fresh Berries with Macadamia Nut Sauce

This Raw Macadamia Nut sauce is adapted from a recipe from Jenny Ross.  We became friends when I met her after falling in love with the food in her popular raw food restaurant, 118 degrees.  Kamila and I have been taking “non cooking” lessons from her since.  Raw, living food is a true art form.


  • 2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup macademia nuts
  • 2 tbs coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 10 drops of  Vanilla Creme, liquid stevia
  • optional- 1Tbsp honey   


  1. In a large bowl gently toss berries.
  2. In a blender bowl add macadamia nuts, coconut flakes, coconut milk, stevia and honey (if desired). Blend until smooth and creamy.  If sauce is too thick add a 2-4  Tbsp unsweetened milk until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  3. Transfer berries to serving bowls and drizzle with nut sauce.

Serves 8