Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Throwdown ; )

We are here once again! The holidays have made their way around again and for most folks, evoking mixed emotions. While most people enjoy the onset of the holidays because it means time with family, good food and a time filled with cheer, 2009 has taken its toll on folks so it may seem as not so merry a season this year. However, this Thanksgiving, it is more important then ever to be thankful of what we do have and look towards the new year & decade with hope and positivity. Sure there maybe less gift giving and some may have to skip the trip home but I've got some ways to help you salvage & enjoy this Thanksgiving and holidays season! For tips to green up your holiday as well as additional recipes, be sure to check out past Thanksgiving posts from 2007 & 2008.
  • If you aren't able to make it home this holiday,  gather up a group of others who can't make it home and have a potluck dinner.  It's great fun to cook together to create a beautiful meal and enjoy the eclectic menu. Make it an event to look forward to with games, movies or even holiday crafts or even host a "Thanksgiving Throwdown" cooking competition a la Food Network style. Whether you are hosting or going to a dinner, make a full day of celebrating so that no one is feeling lonely. It is also great fun to host a Thanksgiving leftovers brunch so that the food does not go to waste and it is a way to continue the fun with your friends for a lovely holiday weekend.
  • Be creative with your menu.  If you can't afford all of the usual holiday fixings, cook up a more affordable menu like pasta, salad and rolls. Or if you're looking for something different, try a themed dinner. No matter what is served, it's all about the company ; )
  • If you don't have time to cook, make it a semi-homemade dinner and plan ahead.  It's always smart to cook a few things ahead of time and freeze/refrigerate them until the day of.  And for labor intensive parts of the meal, be sure to check your local markets to compare pricing on pre-cooked holiday meals.  In addition, if you are invited to a dinner where you know you're dietary needs will not be met, bring your own meal (which can be ordered as well) along with a dessert or a bottle of wine for your host. Then everybody wins ; )
  • Give instead of receive. Volunteer at a local shelter or soup kitchen and help those who are less fortunate.  Clear your cupboards of non-perishable food you know you will never make and donate it to a food bank to help feed a needy family this year. Rally your friends to do the same and make a day out of it ; )
  • A big tip that tout year round whether it's the holidays, you're traveling or just hangin' at home, it is sticking to your routine.  There are so many helpful resources that can help you with everything from menu planning, fitness planning, recipes, etc. Outside of, a wonderful site that can help you now as well as year round is They are promoting their Happy Healthidays and if you are one of the first 100 people to sign up for their free daily newsletter from this link, you will be entered to win $2010 on January 1st! Cash along with a healthy new year? You can't beat that!
  • And always make healthy choices! Be sure to check out my Winter Wonderland Holiday mini Ecookbook, available here. And as an added treat, enjoy these recipes this day of thanks:
Pumpkin Stuffing 

1 medium sugar pumpkin
6 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (16 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark rum (optional)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Position rack in the center of the oven.
Cut out top of pumpkin, and set aside. Scoop out seeds with a metal spoon.

In a large bowl, stir together the apples, walnuts, cranberry sauce, pineapple, brown sugar, raisins, and rum. Season with ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the cleaned pumpkin, and replace top.

Set pumpkin directly on a baking stone or a thick baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until pumpkin begins to soften. Remove from heat, and stir, scraping the sides gently, so that some pieces of pumpkin fall into the apple mixture. Serve & enjoy ; )

Sweet Potato Fries

9 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup agave
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (205 degrees C).

In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, agave, ginger, oil, cardamom and pepper. Transfer to a large cast iron frying pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Turn the mixture over to expose the pieces from the bottom of the pan. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelized on the outside.

Apple Pound Cake

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 egg replacers
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup raisins

Apple Cider Glaze:

1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegan butter

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in apples, almonds and raisins. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire tack to cool completely.
In a saucepan, combine glaze ingredients; cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Prick top of cake with a fork; drizzle with glaze.

Butterscotch Cocoa

3/4 oz Butterscotch Schnapps   
3/4 oz Coffee Liqueur   
5 oz Vegan Hot Cocoa  (prepared)

Mix ingredients in coffee mug, and top with vegan whipped cream.

Fizzy Apple

2 oz Apple Juice   
4 oz Soda Water   

Pour the apple juice into the old-fashioned glass filled previously with 3 to 5 ice cubes and add the soda. Stir before you serve.

I'm wishing you all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!  See you soon with the 2009 Holiday Gift Guide!


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