Every year, my family collaborates on a collection of recipes to bring to the Thanksgiving table. We of course have the classics; mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, and the bird, but I’m always the one to bring some edgy side dish that goes against the usual contenders. I believe when we were discussing who would bring what, the conversation went something like this….
Mom- “Let’s discuss the menu assignments for Thanksgiving. Your dad and I have the turkey and the mashed potatoes covered, your sister is on desserts, your grandmother is bringing the sweet potatoes and filling…”
Me- “Okay, and what does this mean for me?”
Mom- “We need you to bring the decor to add a little color on the buffet line. Make something green, you’re good at that.”
Naturally, I would be asked to provide the vegetables. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me but when it comes to all of the decadent dishes that make their appearance once a year, my measly salad usually doesn’t stand a chance.
So I have my work cut out for me each year to try to impress the masses with an appealing green that won’t be pushed aside in order to make room for a second helping of mashed potatoes. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta balance out the carb-induced options. That, or at least provide a nice centerpiece.
Roasted Maple Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla Spiced Pecans
Makes 4 cups (about 8 servings)
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced in half
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tsp Shiloh Farms Himalayan Pink Salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine Brussels sprouts and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.. Sprinkle with sea salt. Lay on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the pecans with the reserved melted butter and vanilla. Season with salt.
Remove the sprouts from the oven and place them in the bowl with the pecans. Add the maple syrup and toss to combine.
Lay the sprouts and pecans back on the baking sheet. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
Fall Panzanella Salad with Pomegranates and Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons
5 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
2 cups cooked butternut squash
1 loaf of pumpkin cornbread (see recipe below), cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup pistachios (optional)
For the Dressing:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons agave
salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad:
Roast the butternut squash in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine spinach, squash, pomegranate arils and prepared cornbread croton. (see below)
In a separate small dish, whisk the vinegar, pomegranate juice together. Add the agave and mix to combine.
Pour the dressing over the greens and toss until thoroughly combine. Top with pistachios.
Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons
1 box all natural corn bread mix
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk (non-dairy will work too)
Prepare cornbread by placing the mix in a large bowl. Add milk and stir to incorporate. Fold in the pumpkin and bake as directed.
Cool completely and cut into 1 inch cubes. It’s best to let the bread sit for a few days before turning them into croutons.
On a large baking sheet coated with non-stick spray, lay out the bread cubes and spray with cooking spray. Place the sheet in the oven (450 degrees) and toast for 20 minutes.
And just to prove that I’m not only about the veggies, I threw together this Pumpkin Carmel Biscoff Cheesecake as a stable backup.
Pumpkin Carmel Biscoff Cheesecake
Slighty adapted from this recipe
For the Crust
- 1 package of Biscoff cookies (about 30 cookies)
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter
- 24 oz (3 packages) 1/3 less fat cream cheese – room temp
- 15 oz (approx 2 c) pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 c granulated sugar
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup caramel topping
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 9 in’ pie pan with cooking spray and set aside.
For the crust, pulse the cookies in a food processor until the crumbs are uniform. Remove from the processor and place in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and combine thoroughly with a fork. When the mixture is evenly moist, crumbly, and holds together when you squeeze a handful, it’s ready. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of your pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
For the filling, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree and combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg thoroughly before adding the next, and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one. Beat in the Greek yogurt. Then add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and flour. Beat just until combined, then beat in the vanilla.
Scrape the filling into the cooled crust and spread evenly. Take half of your caramel topping and place a few spoonfuls into the cheesecake filling. With a butter knife, gently swirl the topping throughout the filling.
Bake until the top of the cheesecake is a deep golden color and the center is set, about 1 hour. It’s ok if there is a slight jiggle to the filling. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and run a thin-bladed knife between the crust and the pan sides, to prevent the cake from cracking as it cools. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill for at least four hours or overnight before serving. Top with remaining caramel topping.
All in all, we had a pretty tasty Thanksgiving, vegetables and all! Even though my dishes were not the talk of the night, I noticed a bit more green on people’s plates than they would ever admit.
A few months ago, I ran into Sarah from Manitoba Harvest at the Natural Food Expo in Baltimore. She was handing out samples of their popular product, raw hemp seeds, to passer-bys and I happened to get her attention. I love hemp seeds and use them almost daily and here’s why:
“Hemp is a high protein, easily digestible seed containing all nine of the essential amino acids (like flax). It also has high amounts of fatty acids and fiber as well as containing vitamin E and trace minerals. It has a balanced ratio of omega 3 to 6 fats at around a three to one ratio.” – source
* All 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.
* A high protein percentage of the simple proteins that strengthen immunity and fend off toxins.
* Eating hemp seeds in any form could aid, if not heal, people suffering from immune deficiency diseases. This conclusion is supported by the fact that hemp seed has been used to treat nutritional deficiencies brought on by tuberculosis, a severe nutrition blocking disease that causes the body to waste away.3
* Nature’s highest botanical source of essential fatty acid, with more essential fatty acid than flax or any other nut or seed oil.
* A perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid – for cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system.
* A superior vegetarian source of protein considered easily digestible.
* A rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting your immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, organs and mitochondria.
* The richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids.
Hemp seeds are a great alternative to flax or chia if you are looking for additional protein and amino acid in your diet. Plus, I love the fact that hemp does not seem to upset my stomach the way flax does so I often find myself sprinkling these nutty seeds on salads, cereal and waffles.
Sarah has graciously offered to give away one 16oz bag of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts to one lucky SWYNTS reader.
Simply leave a comment on this post with one way that you would use hemp in your diet if you won.
For an extra entry:
- Follow Manitoba Harvest on Facebook
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(separate comment for each entry)
Comments will be accepted until Tuesday, November 27th. One winner will be selected and announced on Wednesday’s post.