Thanksgiving 2016

What a beautiful day! With my son and daughter-in-law hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, I didn’t have as much cooking to do, which was wonderful! Nevertheless, I was up early on this day of expressing gratitude, cooking the rest of the plant based sides that were my contribution to the meal. 

My first utterance of thankfulness this morning was for the food processor that thinly sliced potatoes with such ease and speed that I was tempted to go buy another bag of spuds, just for the fun of it! 

The second occurrence that filled my heart with grateful joy was walking out into my garden, in late November, and snipping fresh thyme and rosemary for the potato and mushroom gratin. I also hoped my neighbors weren’t watching out their windows. I walked outside in a pajama top, yoga pants and a pair of loafers, because isn’t that how everyone dresses while cooking for Thanksgiving? 

The potato and mushroom gratin and the sweet potato casserole both turned out great, as did the pumpkin baked beans that simmered all night in the slow cooker. The cranberry relish was a hit too. 

Megan and Nate had a houseful today and they were such gracious hosts. Megan prepared a big traditional Thanksgiving meal, and the guests all brought sides, drinks or desserts. While everything looked and smelled  amazing, I wasn’t tempted at all to divert from my diet. Megan included a flavorful broccoli salad and perfectly roasted squash and tomatoes as side dishes. My plate was full. I ate well and healthily and I was satisfied in all ways with my first ever plant based Thanksgiving. 

Starting at the top and going clockwise: roasted squash & tomatoes, potato & mushroom gratin, broccoli salad, raw cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin baked beans. 

The greatest blessing of today was gathering with family. We were a big blended group with Megan’s family and Nate’s present. We missed Megan’s sister Tara, who had to work, and her family, and Dayan and Jonathan, who were with other family today.  

After the delicious meal, the kids headed out into the gorgeous sunshiny day to play and jump on the trampoline, while Frankie the youngest child present today, wandered about the yard under the watchful eyes of his parents and grandmother. Inside we visited and laughed and cleared away leftovers. 

Eventually we all ended up outdoors. The kids and adult kids divided into two teams for a fun and friendly game of kickball. The rest of us cheered from the driveway and laughed at the number of times one of the grown up kids ended up on the ground. It was a great way to spend the afternoon, soaking up golden rays of sun and for the more adventurous, getting in exercise after a big meal. 

Family was the focus of the day. Family members of all ages, having fun together, feasting, playing, talking, laughing, expressing their quirks and offering their love, that’s what was most important today. 

I finally had a piece of fully plant based pumpkin pie with coconut cream whipped topping late in the afternoon, after I got home. It tasted as great as it looked. What a perfect end, to a perfectly lovely day. Thanksgiving 2016 is a cherished memory. And I am full of gratitude.

My First Cranberry Relish & Plant Based Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving almost upon us, tonight I began prepping food to contribute to the family dinner on Thursday. I am very determined to adhere to my plant based diet during the holidays. And yes, I’ve heard it all from well meaning people…from “it’s just one day of eating whatever you want” (two really, counting Christmas) to “a little turkey and dessert never hurt anybody” to “you can get right back on track after the holidays”. 

I realize that what people are really saying is, they don’t want me to miss out. I appreciate their concern. And trust me, I don’t feel that I am missing anything…except pain, a body thrown out of whack and unwanted holiday weight gain! 

With my resolve firm, I greatly enjoyed puttering in the kitchen this evening, creating my first raw cranberry relish, and my first totally plant based pumpkin pie. Both recipes are from Anthony William. The cranberry relish is from his new book, Life Changing Foods. And the pumpkin pie recipe is from his Holiday Pies printout. 

Having never made cranberry relish, I was very surprised to find that other people apparently know something about the goodness of fresh cranberries that I don’t! I had to visit four grocery stores before I could locate a bag of these bright red berries. They were sold out all over Joplin. Thankfully, Aldi’s still had a few bags. 

This recipe was super easy. Using my new food processor, I combined 1 cup of fresh cranberries, 2 cups of coarsely chopped apples, 1/2 cup of orange segments, 1/4 teaspoon of orange zest and 4 tablespoons of raw organic honey and pulsed until roughly combined. The relish can be garnished with chopped mint before serving. 

I sampled a bite of the relish as I popped it into the fridge to chill. It was delicious, with just the right blend of sweet and tart flavors, and quite a contrast to the super syrupy cranberry sauce from a can. 

The pumpkin pie was just as easy and full of healthy goodness as well. The crust was made by processing 1 cup of raw organic almonds, 1 cup of raw organic pecans, 3 cups of dates, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (I located this at my local health food store, Fox Farm Foods), and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. 

After pressing firmly into a pie dish, I let the crust chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. For the filling, I used my blender to combine 1 cup of dates, 2 bananas, 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup heavy coconut milk, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice. When the mixture was smooth I poured it into the crust and placed the pie back into the freezer for 30 minutes, before transferring to the fridge. 

I tried a bite of the crust and a dab of pumpkin pie filling. Oh my. Both were excellent…tasty, not too sweet, and perfectly seasoned with spice. 

Tomorrow evening I will attempt making coconut whipped cream, using heavy coconut milk, lemon juice, honey and vanilla bean powder.I’ll let you know how that turns out. With or without whipped topping, this pie is amazing…and absolutely good for me. 

I’m looking forward to cutting into it Thanksgiving day!