Meal of grateful praise
Plant-based options for holiday traditions
"For the Beauty of the Earth" composed by Folliot Sandford Pierpoint (1835-1917) is one of my favorite Thanksgiving hymns. The words inspire me to think of the beauty of creation, love, faith, hope and peace on earth.
We are to give thanks for all of these gifts that have been given to us in creation by God. That, to me, is the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
The bounty of glorious plants that are available for our consumption can decorate a Thanksgiving table with beauty. For those of us who are committed to not eating animals, choosing food that lights the spark of memories and family tradition of earlier years becomes a creative opportunity to try new dishes that represent a traditional Thanksgiving feast.
Gathering with family and friends has become the more important part of this holiday to me. More than the food that is on the table, I like to participate in the traditions of the holiday that so much of my family enjoys, but with a different philosophy.
Each Thanksgiving for the last several years, I have adopted a turkey through the Adopt-A-Turkey Project at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York (www.farmsanctuary.org/giving/adopt-a-turkey/). Farm Sanctuary was co-founded by Gene Baur, author of "Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food."
This year, my turkey's name is Ruthie. I received a certificate with her picture, which I will place on my refrigerator door. According to the Farm Sanctuary website, here are the details of the program:
Since 1986, Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-A-Turkey Project has encouraged people to save a turkey at Thanksgiving through sponsorships that help us rescue animals and provide care for them at our sanctuaries, as well as educate and advocate for turkeys and other farm animals everywhere.
For just $ 35.00, you can sponsor turkeys rather than eating one of the 46 million turkeys who are killed for Thanksgiving every year.
Turkey sponsorships also make perfect gifts, so make an even greater impact this holiday season by sharing the love with others.
The use of seasonal herbs and flavorings, colorful plants, as well as a carefully planned meal, brings beauty and emotional satisfaction to the holiday feast.
The herbs of choice for this season are sage, thyme and rosemary. The spices are cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Add some extra spices like nutritional yeast, Himalayan or Celtic sea salt (dry), miso, sun-dried tomatoes, raw apple cider vinegar, and black pepper.
Fill your refrigerator with organic, fresh and whole onions-both red and white-garlic, celery, green beans, yams, cranberries, oranges, lemons and raisins. Almonds, walnuts and cashews help to provide fat and protein to the meal. Get some good organic (no animal use for processing) wine or a sparking cider, and you are all set.
(Don't forget the pumpkin cashew cheesecake recipe from October 2016 Blog post.)
Lastly, I believe the time you spend with family during the holidays can be a healing and educational time if you listen to each other and reach across the table to understand each person's beliefs. My family has come to know and understand mine, and it is a loving and compassionate act to be present to theirs.
Besides the meal itself, the holiday together presents a great opportunity to introduce great plant-based food to family members that are delicious and can become a new tradition for those who feel a need to change. Take a dish to your family holiday table that will help them understand and taste a new and healthy way of eating.
These recipes will help you prepare your own plant-based feast year after year. Create your beauty and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving Fantasy Stuffing
1 1/2 cups chopped almonds
2 cups raw chopped walnuts
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 apple, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 large cloves garlic
1 medium portobello mushroom, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
4 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup raisins (soaked)
Easy Option: Instead of sage and thyme, use 1 1/2 teaspoon non-irradiated poultry seasoning
Place almonds and walnuts in a food processor and puree until nuts are chopped fine.
Add onion, garlic and herbs to the food processor and process until well minced.
Add the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss with our hands.
Mix well and make into patties or a loaf or serve as you would stuffing.
Dehydrate at 105 degrees until crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. Alternatively, use a warm oven. Time will vary depending on the size of your loaf or burgers. Approximately 8 to 12 hours dehydrating time for a loaf or burgers, 4 to 6 hours for stuffing. Half the time if using a warm oven.
Garnish with Cranberry Relish. Eat this in place of turkey and stuffing.
6 to 8 servings
Use the recipe for Thanksgiving Fantasy Stuffing, but add 1/4 cup miso of your choice and eliminate the celery, apple, zucchini, mushroom, raisins and olive oil. Dehydrate as instructed in a warm oven until firm (4 to 6 hours), or half the time for a warm oven. Top with "Creamy" Herb Gravy.
"Creamy" herb gravy
2 cups raw cashews (soaked for 2 to 4 hours)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion
4-5 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyem
fresh ground pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
Transfer the soaked and drained cashews to a food processor and blend.
Chop the thyme and smash with a large knife.
Chop the onion and garlic and saute in olive oil.
Transfer the onion/garlic mixture to the food processor with the cashews.
Set the pan aside for later use.
Add 2 cups broth to the food processor.
Blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture back into the pan you cooked the onions add garlic in.
Add the thyme and cook the cashew mixture over medium heat for a few minutes or until it thickens. Stir so it does not burn.
Whisk in remaining broth, lemon juice and pepper.
Stir and let it thicken for a few minutes.
Top Save-the-turkey burgers by drizzling on top and serving cranberry relish on the side.
6 to 8 servings
2 cups fresh or frozen organic cranberries (frozen best)
1/4 medium red onion (optional)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 ripe jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 oranges, sectioned and skinned
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup maple syrup (or more to sweeten)
1 teaspoon psyllium to thicken (optional)
Place the cranberries and optional onion in a food processor and puree until coarsely chopped.
Place in a medium bowl.
Place chopped celery and jalapeno in the food processor and puree until finely chopped.
Place in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
Mix everything together and put in a glass bowl or mason jar.
Let sit in the refrigerator for a day or longer.
Serve with the Fantasy Stuffing or Save-the-turkey burger.
Cashew "Cream" Green Bean Casserole
2 pounds of green beans
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cloves galrlice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 cup portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1 cup raw cashews (soaked 2 to 4 hours)
1 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 onion chopped
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons Celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Cut the green beans into bite-size pieces.
Place them in a large mixing bowl.
Blend drained cashews, water, nutrititional yeast, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and seasonings until smooth and creamy.
Combine chopped onion, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes into a large mixing bowl.
Pour the cashew sauce over the green beans and toss.
Top with dehydrated onion rings.
Heat this mixture for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or marinate and serve raw.
Sweet Potato Soup
6 to 8 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large celery stalk, diced
handful of celery leaves
6 cups peeled, diced (about 1/2 inch) sweet potatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk or light coconut milk, or as needed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
fresh parsley to garnish
Heat oil in the soup pot.
Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute over low heat until the onions are golden.
Add the celery leaves and diced sweet potato.
Add just enough water to cover all but about an inch over the vegetables.
Bring to a simmer, then stir in the bay leaves and seasonings.
Simmer gently, covered, until the sweet potatoes and vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves.
Remove about half of the solid ingredients with a slotted spoon and transfer to a fodd processor or blender along with about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Process until smoothly pureed, then stir back into the soup pot. Or, simply insert an immersion blender into the pot and process until smoothly pureed.
Add the nondairy milk or coconut milk as needed to give the soup a slightly thick consistency.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer over very low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve at once, or let stand off the heat for an hour or two before serving, then heat as needed.
Garnish individual servings with sprigs of fresh parsley.
Festive Greens with Citrus Vinaigrette
Serves 6 to 8
1 head curly kale, either red or green, but in thin strips
5 leaves dinosaur kale cut into thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
1 red onion
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, julienned
1 yam, grated
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons hulled sesame seeds
Mix together kales in a large bowl.
Mix with the vinaigrette, and arrange grated yam, pepper, onion, cucumber, tomatoes and olives on top.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
1/2 orange juiced
1 lemon juiced
1 lime juiced
1/2 cup olive oil or flax oil
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
dash of cayenne
Blend or shake in a dressing bottle.
Add to greens and marinate 4 hours.