An Abundance of Goodness

Day 4 of Gratitude Week falls on Thanksgiving Eve. I am doing what I usually do on this night before Thanksgiving…I am preparing food for tomorrow’s meal. We had our big family Thanksgiving Sunday, while my son was off work. Tomorrow is a more casual meal with my two daughters and their husbands, Greg, and grandson Dayan.

We are all contributing to the meal, which will include smoked turkey and brisket, for the carnivores in the family, and an abundance of veggie side dishes, for the plant based eaters.

My gratitude today is for the delightful fact that holiday meals and a plant based lifestyle are not exclusive of each other. I will dine well tomorrow and enjoy spending an afternoon with family. We will share food, talk, laugh, play games and celebrate a birthday.

I am grateful for a wealth of healthy recipes to try out. Tonight I made three dishes for tomorrow, trying out two new recipes and recreating a favorite from last year.

The foundation of the recipes was plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here is a peek at what I am contributing tomorrow:

I made Raw Cranberry Relish, from Life Changing Foods, last year for the first time. I like cranberry sauce, even the blob of stuff from the can. This relish, made from fresh cranberries, apples and oranges is amazing. And it is so easy to make, using a food processor. The recipe calls for coconut sugar, which is a natural, unrefined sugar. Last year I substituted raw honey. Tonight I had coconut sugar on hand. This is seriously so delicious, that even people who think they don’t like cranberries might be surprised.

Cranberries are full of antioxidants. They not only aid in healing urinary tract infections, they reverse gallbladder disease, cleanse the liver and help with kidney stones. They also help heal cardiovascular disease and draw radiation out of the body.

I wonder why I only make this around Thanksgiving? While cranberries are plentiful, I should be making this relish once a week!

I am super excited about this Sweet Potato Casserole. I found the recipe on Pinterest, posted by Nutritional Foodie. I made a sweet potato casserole for years. That one was full of butter and brown sugar and used canned yams. This one started with fresh sweet potatoes that I cooked myself and then mashed with coconut oil, spices, coconut sugar and unsweetened almond coconut milk. The topping, which I’ll add in the morning before baking, has pecans, coconut sugar, coconut oil and garbanzo bean flour.

After I poured the sweet potato mixture into the casserole dish, I tried a bite, from the bit left in the pan. It is so wonderful! And this version is good for me. Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and promote productive bacteria in the stomach while starving out unproductive bacteria and fungi. They help regulate hormones and promote sleep.

Look at this colorful dish! The Mixed Veggies with Brown Rice features fresh carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini, along with organic peas and red kidney beans. Combined with the brown rice, this will be a wholesome, protein rich dish that will be the main part of my meal tomorrow. This recipe comes from a little cookbook called Slow Cooker 100% Vegan.

I have the raw brown rice in the slow cooker and the veggies prepped and seasoned with mixed Italian herbs, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and fresh garlic. I’ll stumble into the kitchen at 3:00 am to add the veggies to the slow cooker, along with two cups of water, and turn it on low. It will finish cooking just in time to cart it to Adriel’s house. I’ll bet it will smell wonderful as it simmers.

I am so full of gratitude as I sip on my turmeric milk, all my food preparations completed. During my healing journey I have realized this truth, and accept it wholeheartedly…

What I eat becomes the fuel that my body uses to live and thrive…or exist and struggle.

EVERYTHING I eat and drink matters. Poor nutrition results in poor health, illness and pain. Good nutrition results in good health and an immune system that can fight off invaders and heal itself, maintaining well being.

I choose carefully what I nourish myself with. During celebrations or the holidays, I am not missing a thing by holding to my plant based lifestyle. What I gain is continued health, not extra pounds or an upset digestive system.

Here’s to a healthy and abundant Thanksgiving!

Trick or Treat

Celebrating Halloween changes when your kids grow up. And it shifts again as the grandchildren grow older too. This is perfect, as it is the way of things and signifies growth. I was mindful of the day, as I took care of business and ran errands, celebrating in small and joyful ways.

I also had a decision to make. As one who no longer eats sugar, I felt conflicted about handing out sugary treats to trick or treaters.

From that place of desiring to offer more, the Trick or Treat Experiment was born.

My own nod to Halloween was simple. Tropical Smoothie Cafe hosted a Hogwarts Day event. As a fan of the Harry Potter books and films, I stopped by to have a pic taken with the Headmaster, Dumbledore, and pick up a fruit smoothie.

No need to try on the Sorting Hat. I already know I am in the House of Slytherin.

On this day only, Tropical Smoothie Cafe offers a Butterbeer Smoothie, in honor of Hogwarts Day. Because of its high sugar content, I opted instead for a refreshingly tart cranberry strawberry smoothie, with no sugar. It was just what I needed for an afternoon pick me up.

At the grocery store, I made a decision about what to offer trick or treaters. We can’t hand out fresh fruit, for safety reasons. Unfortunately, fruit can be tampered with. But happily, I found fruit snacks in little sealed give away bags, and mini fruit roll ups. These aren’t as healthy as a banana or apple would be, but at 45 calories and 6 grams of sugar, they are a better alternative to candy bars.

I purchased a bag of mini Kit Kat bars as well. I don’t want to be that crazy health lady who forces a different lifestyle on others. But what if I offered a choice? Given the option of a Kit Kat bar, with 210 calories and 21 grams of sugar, or a packaged fruit snack, which would kids choose?

I was about to find out.

I offered the bowl of treats to each trick or treater, without influencing the child’s decision. I let them choose, and kept a running tally in my head.

Given the opportunity to choose, the majority of the kids asked, politely, if they could have more than one treat. Of course, I replied. Help yourself. And they did, with grins and words of thanks.

At the end of the evening, here were the results. More fruit snacks were chosen than candy bars. The mini fruit roll ups were the night’s winner. Among kids that selected two snacks, if they picked up a candy bar, they also grabbed a fruit snack as well. And often, those who chose two treats selected two fruit snacks.

With the group of kids that came to my door, it appears that given a choice, most of them preferred a fruit snack. I felt ridiculously pleased with the trick or treat experiment! This gives me hope that a generation is rising that will be more health conscious.

Trick or treat? Treat…especially when it is a low sugar one. I have a year to see what other options are out there, for even healthier treats. Perhaps next year my choices will be fruit snacks…or cashews!

My Halloween costume…a Slytherin pin.