Hands down, Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. Growing up it meant spending time with my massive family while watching grandma ArLee orchestrate the entire meal flawlessly. Except for that one time when the turkey went bad and my aunt yelled the F word at grandpa. But you get the idea.
Anyway, my love of cooking was inspired by my grandma and I have carried on a number of her traditional dishes throughout the years. Green beans with bacon is tops on that list. However, this will be the ninth Thanksgiving dinner I’ve cooked as an adult and I’ve decided to make a few changes. First of all, in previous years we entertained friends and family but this time it’s just us three. Secondly, it’s my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. Lastly, Bill and I have gotten into great shape over the past year and don’t want to derail any of our efforts this holiday season. Save for his mom’s Chex mix. That will be eaten heartily the second it arrives.
When I decided to go vegetarian several people asked, “but what about Thanksgiving?” I told them and myself, “of course I’ll eat turkey on Thanksgiving.” How could I not? I make the world’s best turkey – with a stick of butter and herbs under the skin and seasoned salt on top – it’s juicy and delicious and heaven on earth. But over the past few weeks I’ve been cultivating healthier, vegan recipes for my menu and eating turkey with vegan sides started to make less and less sense.
So this will be my first annual vegan Thanksgiving. My typical menu requires about two pounds of butter and a pound of bacon so obviously this is an adjustment. I’m still making a turkey breast for Bill but Maddie and I will share a gardein holiday roast. Instead of bacon in the green beans I’m caramelizing onions and toasting almonds. My usual buttery, sugary, marshmallow-y yams will be replaced with Hasselback sweet potatoes. For extra protein, I’m making these garlic mashed potatoes. Instead of can-shaped cranberry sauce, I’m making cranberry pear sauce from scratch (using pomegranate juice instead of water and adding some orange zest). I’ll bake my own vegan dinner rolls with whole wheat flour. For dessert we’ll enjoy a pumpkin pie with pecan crust and a whole wheat galette with apple and cranberry.
And now I’m salivating. I’ll report back next week with pictures of the whole spread.
Thursday needs to hurry up and get here! I can’t wait to start a few new traditions while carrying on the most important ones – being thankful for my health and the love of my family.