Thanksgiving is all about acknowledging and appreciating what we have, quality time spent with family and friends… and stuffing our faces. No other holiday gives us permission to binge eat the way that a Thanksgiving feast demands. Dinner is typically served at an unheard of 4 or 5pm to allow for endless lingering over conversation and plates piled high, followed by a second round of leftovers before bedtime. In the face of such divine decadence, it can be hard to maintain moderation. So, rather than saying no to that second plate beckoning from the kitchen – I like to prepare foods that allow me to indulge without feeling sick.
This year I planned a Friendsgiving the weekend before the actual holiday, giving me twice the reason to take it easy on the animal fats and starches present in many Thanksgiving favorites. And while nothing replaces the tradition of mom’s maple glazed turkey (sorry but NOBODY wants a vegan tofurky) or grandma’s buttery mashed potatoes, there is always room at the table for a few healthier additions.
Last weekend was the big Friendsgiving feast, and I got to road test these 3 recipes on my guests, many of whom are amazing cooks, and almost none of whom are vegan, paleo, gluten free or even very health conscious (though all 3 recipes here are!). Each dish received the ultimate stamp of approval: requests for seconds. Plus, nobody was the wiser that their arteries were as happy as their taste buds.
Click through for 3 of my favorite autumn recipes; perfect for a guilt-free Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, or both!
CURRIED CAULIFLOWER STUFFED SQUASH [V] [VV] [DF] [GF]
Serves 2 - 4
- 1 Carnival or Acorn Squash
- ½ head of chopped cauliflower
- 4 tbsp curry powder
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
- dash of cayenne or other hot pepper
- ½ c black rice
- ½ c golden raisins
- ¼ c pine nuts – lightly toasted
- Preheat the oven to 400°F, and cook black rice on the stovetop according to package directions.
- Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Slice the bottom so that the squash will sit flat in a pan
- Drizzle with enough olive oil to very lightly coat the top of the squash, and roast in the oven about 25-30 minutes (it’s going to go back in, don’t worry that it's not completely cooked!)
- While the squash is roasting, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet until fragrant, approx 5 minutes. (Note – this step is optional, but just brings out the flavor of the pine nuts a bit more)
- Toss the cauliflower with garlic, cayenne and curry powder until coated
- Add toasted pine nuts, golden raisins and black rice until you reach a ratio that suits you
- Pile the cauliflower/rice mixture into the half-baked squash, and continue roasting until cauliflower is cooked and squash is soft, but not mushy. Approximately 15-30 more minutes depending on the size of your cauliflower and thickness of squash
- Serves 2 as either a main dish or 4 as a side
CARROT COCONUT SOUP W/ TOASTED NUTS [V] [VV] [DF] [GF]
Recipe adapted from We Golden
- 2 lbs carrots
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1, 2-3 inch piece of ginger, minced
- 4 c of water
- 1/2 can coconut milk (I promise it doesn’t taste like coconut!)
- Olive oil or coconut oil for cooking
- Kosher salt to taste
- ½ c chopped walnuts, pine nuts or hazelnuts
- Cayenne pepper to garnish
- Toast nuts of choice on the stove top until they become fragrant and golden brown, careful not to burn. About 5 minutes
- Remove nuts from the stove and allow to cool. Once cooled, use your fingers to remove any loose skins if applicable. Roughly chop and set aside
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Clean carrots and chop into large pieces. Place carrots on a baking sheet and coat lightly in olive or coconut oil and a big pinch of salt. Roast until the carrots begin to caramelize and can be pierced through but are still firm, about 20-25 min
- In a large pot, sauté onion in olive or coconut oil with another big pinch of salt – cooking until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds
- Add the carrots, water, coconut milk and another big pinch of salt. Cover and simmer until the carrots are tender – about 15-20 minutes
- Put the entire mixture into a blender in evenly proportioned batches and blend until smooth
- Serve with toasted nuts of choice and a sprinkle of cayenne.
SAGEY ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH CHESTNUTS [V] [VV] [GF] [DF]
Serves 4 - 6
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts; trimmed and halved
- 1/4 lb Roasted Chestnuts (roast from scratch or buy prepared to save time) roughly chopped
- 1 tsp coconut oil or organic butter (this will make it no longer vegan and dairy free)
- Olive Oil (enough to lightly coat sprouts)
- 3 tbsp fresh sage (more to taste)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Cut the stems off of the sprouts, and cut them in half
- Coat a large skillet on medium-high heat, with coconut oil or butter and sauté sage until fragrant. Add Brussels sprouts and sauté together for about 15 minutes or until cooked through. Occasionally I will put a lid on the pan to steam cook a bit faster for the first 5 minutes, though I recommending keeping the lid off for the majority of the time to achieve maximum yummy crispiness.
- Toss sprout/sage mixture with chopped chestnuts and serve!
Happy and healthy Thanksgiving!