Monday, November 19, 2012

Plant-Empowered Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Matt and I have been asked what we eat since turkey is off the table.

Thanksgiving is spent at my sister’s house. Both she and her husband are always very accommodating to our lifestyle throughout the year. However, we recognize the work that goes into preparing a Thanksgiving dinner when you’re trying to feed everyone the same meal, let alone having dietary preferences thrown into the mix. Plus, part of what makes the holiday fun is everyone injecting their individual flair and tastes into the mix by sharing their favorite or cultural cuisines.

To that end, we’ll bring a couple of whole-food, plant-based dishes that are delicious enough to be enjoyed by everyone.

Here’s what we’re making this year.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers: A wonderful blend of onion, celery, garlic and cumin, mixed with chopped spinach, diced tomatoes, black beans, carrots and quinoa and then stuffed into beautiful red and yellow peppers.

A word on quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) … quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for more than 5,000 years and is recognized as the world’s most nutritious grain. It has about twice the protein of other grains, fewer carbohydrates and more healthful fats. It’s also a complete protein, containing all eight essential amino acids. This supergrain is gluten-free and rich in iron, calcium, potassium, fiber and lignans. I recommend cooking it with vegetable broth as opposed to water or ½ broth/½ water. It adds a nice flavor to it. Also, always make sure to rinse quinoa prior to preparing it otherwise it can have a bitter taste.

Polenta, “Sausage” and Mushroom Stuffing: This is a nice change-of-pace stuffing for which Matt can’t wait. He’s a huge polenta fan. If you’re unfamiliar with polenta as I was, it’s a coarsely ground yellow cornmeal that’s boiled in water to create a porridge-like substance. It tastes similar to cornbread and is quite tasty.

Field Roast is by far the best meat-alternative on the market. What makes it even more exceptional is that it’s made with whole foods, such as eggplant, Yukon Gold potatoes, onions and garlic, so it’s something I can incorporate regularly into our dinners, welcoming back such classics as "sausage" and peppers, and for our kids ... "sausage" and eggs. The taste sizzles!

This stuffing brings together the flavors of polenta, “sausage” and cremini mushrooms with onion, celery and a variety of seasonings such as fresh sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme and then an all-purpose seasoning blend. To add even more “oomph,” it’s cooked in vegetable broth and topped with pine nuts. Yum!

If I weren't a proponent of a whole-food, plant-based diet, these recipes would still make my mouth water.

Whether you're vegan or an omnivore, Thanksgiving desserts are a must! In keeping with that belief, we'll bring a pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake from our favorite local bakery, Vegan Treats. We've been steadily using Vegan Treats since 2011 for all our holiday/birthday cakes and cookies and they never disappoint.

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday in large part because of the food. Our change in lifestyle has not altered that sentiment in any way, if anything it’s reinforced it. Plus, each year we get to add a couple more deliciously healthful “plant-empowered” recipes to our repertoire!

Gobble, gobble

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