Friday, November 29, 2013

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

Menu from Chef Areeya's Go Raw Holiday Prep Class at the Go Raw Cafe, clockwise from bottom left: Spiced Pumpkin Bisque, Gramm's Pecan Dressing, Cashew Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Split Vanilla Cheesecake Pumpkin Torte, Savory Sage Drumettes, Cranberries with Pineapple 
In the past, I was a maniac at Thanksgiving.  In my view, a Thanksgiving feast was not a success unless it was spectacular.  One of my rules was that there had to be at least two kinds of everything:  two kinds of roast meat, (like turkey AND ham,) two kinds of potatoes, bread, vegetables, salad, pie, etc.  Each year, there was so much food that the table was arranged carefully to use every square inch of space.  I often did most of work myself.  After the meal, the kitchen cleanup job was huge, and for many years I didn't ask for help with that, either.

Of course, everyone ate until they couldn't eat another bite, and then they spent the rest of the day resting.

Last year, we did things differently.  For the first time, I tried spreading out the feast over several days.  Much of what I served was raw, with a few cooked items to please certain family members.  It seemed to work out pretty well.

This year, we did it that way again.  I recruited family members to help with most of the food prep and cleanup.  We broke up our typical meal routine with more festive holiday dishes.  I asked my son which cooked dishes were essential to making it a "real Thanksgiving" for him, and only cooked those.

Many raw food recipes are best served right away.  Depending on ingredients, often the leftovers will not keep longer than two or three days.  For this reason, we aren't following the pattern of serving one huge meal and then eating the leftovers for the next week.  Instead, we are trying several different seasonal recipes over the four-day family holiday.  For example, for lunch today, we had a raw pumpkin-coconut nog smoothie, made with organic sugar pie pumpkin, young Thai coconuts, dates and pumpkin pie spice.

Another thing I did differently this year was that I didn't start planning several weeks in advance, and I didn't create an ironclad menu.  I just made sure that we had plenty of the ingredients we would need, and a general idea of which recipes we would make.  At one point, when we ran out of a staple ingredient, I considered going out to find a store that was open on Thanksgiving but decided against it.  Instead, we made something that didn't require that ingredient.  It was rather liberating.

So for us, Thanksgiving holiday was simple and easy, and yet, it's lasting the entire four days instead of one.  For some reason, it's easier for me to be thankful when the meal is smaller, lighter and simpler,  and I have more time to enjoy it.  Thanksgiving is really about spending time with family.

It does help to have some raw snacks on hand for Thanksgiving Day.  Clockwise from bottom left:  Pumpkin Pie Cookies, Magical Kale Chips, and Sprouted Buckwheat Bars

I hope that everyone who reads this had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you have a wonderful holiday season.  I'm heading back into the kitchen to whip up some more raw holiday deliciousness.  Raw Green Bean Casserole, anyone?

Here are a few links to some of my favorite holiday recipes:

Marinated Mushrooms and Mashed Rosemary Cauliflower over at Rawmazing

A whole selection of raw holiday recipes at Pretty Smart Raw Food ideas

My husband really loves the poultry seasoning flavor of the Save The Turkey Portobello Mushroom recipe over at Mimi Kirk's Young On Raw Food.

Fully Raw Kristina offers a delicious recipe for Pumpkin Pie Brownies

To keep people happy while the dehydrator is running, some terrific snacks are:  No Bake Pumpkin Pie Cookies, Magical Kale Chips, and Raw Sprouted Buckwheat Bars.