It’s that time of year when we begin thinking about holiday foods.
I really believe in getting kids involved in the kitchen. There are so many lessons to be learned: measuring and simple math, preparation and organization of ingredients, following directions, and perhaps most importantly, preparing healthy food.
Healthy foods at Thanksgiving should mean the veggie side dishes! However, even the veggie sides can be full of butter, cheese, mayo and marshmallows, adding so much saturated fat they can hardly be called healthy.
In the cooking classes I do with kids, we make a couple side dishes they can proudly put on the Thanksgiving table to share and talk about. Even if there aren’t little ones in your home, I hope you enjoy this veggie tray, salad and bite-sized dessert.
Turkey Veggie Tray
How about a colorful turkey-themed veggie plate? Kids love getting creative, following a photo like this to make a healthy appetizer tray. The bonus is that if they are involved, there is a good chance they will eat more of it. Serve with this healthy, tasty dairy-free dip.
Creamy Cashew Herb Dip/Dressing
• 1 cup cashews soaked in water and drained
• 1/4 cup each of fresh dill, fresh chives, and fresh parsley
• 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
• 1/2 lemon juiced
• salt & pepper to taste, and water as needed
Soak cashews in cold water for 4 hours or in hot water for 30-60 minutes and drain. Add cashews, dill, chives, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper to a high-speed blender. Blend on high until combined and smooth, adding water if needed. It’s yummy with the raw veggies.
For the next recipe, an adult will definitely need to shave the sprouts.
Farro and Brussels Sprout Italian Salad
Ingredients for salad
• 10 oz package of fresh, not frozen, Brussels sprouts, shaved or sliced extremely thin
• ½ cup chopped red onion
• low-sodium veggie broth
• ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired, or roasted pistachios
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 cups cooked farro, chilled (1 1/2 c dry farro)
• 2 Tbs balsamic glaze, more for garnish
• 2 Tbs homemade cashew parmesan, see below
• 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
Ingredients for cashew parmesan
• 3/4 cup raw cashews
• 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1/4 tsp garlic powder
Grind cashews to a fine meal in coffee grinder and add rest of ingredients. Keep refrigerated.
Cook farro according to package directions in veggie broth (or water), cool.
Make cashew parm.
Add all ingredients, except glaze and cashew parm, and mix.
Add balsamic glaze and cashew parm salad and toss.
Garnish with extra drizzle of balsamic glaze, sprinkle of cashew parm and basil ribbons.
*Serve salad warm if desired by using warm farro and grilled or roasted Brussels sprouts.
Salted Maple Pecan Fudge
No cooking and a much healthier fudge, with that seasonal maple taste! I like to make these in a mini-muffin pan (kids love to roll the balls, and then press into the pan), but if you don’t have one, just use any 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper, and cut fudge pieces the size you wish.
• 1 cup creamy cashew butter, mix well if separated.
• ½ cup real maple syrup
• ½ teaspoon salt, fine
• ½ cup plus 3-4 tsp coconut flour
• ½ cup chopped pecan nuts, and pecan halves for garnish
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
Toppings: pecan halves, sea salt and or shredded coconut.
Add the cashew butter, maple syrup and salt to a bowl and mix together by hand really well. Then add the coconut flour, vanilla and pecan nuts to the cashew butter mixture and stir very well again until there is no dry flour showing at all, scraping into the bottom of the bowl with the spatula or wooden spoon. It gets pretty thick, but that’s normal. Use a spoon to get enough dough in your hands to roll 2-inch balls and drop into the mini-muffin pan. Next, gently press the fudge into the tin to give them a rounded shape like a peanut butter cup. Gently press a pecan half into each one and add a tiny bit of salt. These freeze very well and from the freezer are ready to eat in minutes.
I know it’s only one meal a year, but you’ll feel better if you lighten up the veggie sides and desserts. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Melissa Sherlock lives in Omaha and has been fully plant-based for more than 11 years. She loves cooking, gardening, tennis, yoga and family. Send questions or comments to [email protected]. Visit the VCEI website at https://www.veganeasterniowa.org/ or join the group on Facebook and Meetup.
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