It’s all about the sides!

File Nov 26, 9 55 45 AM

No.. I don’t miss having turkey on Thanksgiving. I get asked that a lot but honestly, it’s really about the sides anyway. That’s where the creativity, variety and flavors come in. There are so many favorites from stuffing to sweet potatoes with marshmallows! This year my Mom asked me to make a couple additions to her huge layout; in particular, a red quinoa fluffed up with apples and cashews. My Mom is so adorable- she just gives me the page ripped out from the magazine. I’m so digital these days that I don’t even recall using those kind of recipes anymore. I am more a fan of Pinterest but I have to say it’s pretty easy to keep the page in front of me while shopping, prepping and cooking. Truth be told, I simply need my phone for other things like catching up on friendly gossip among friends while chopping away.

I made two side dishes this year. I thought the 2nd one would be better: brussels sprouts, butternut squash, pecans and cranberries but honestly this quinoa, apple, cashew dish slayed it!

Quinoa with Apples & Cashews
(Recipe by Graham Elliot; the author of Cooking Like A Master Chef)

Quinoa- One of my favorite grains! My go-to here is to always cook it covered on low flame with 1 1/2 ratio water or broth to the grain. (I think the recipe calls for double the liquid – see what you think.)
In a separate bowl, I diced the apples and added fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, chives and parsley. I just mixed it al together and made a super tester portion just to be sure it was perfect – which it was! It was like an orchestra of flavors all fighting for first place but making a five way tie. It was salty, nutty and sweet with the right amount of zing and savour – and heartiness too! I highly recommend this recipe.

I varied it so I’ll post here what I did and you can click the link I found for the one I read from the magazine.

2 cups red quinoa
3 to 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 small apples diced
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup chopped cashews toasted
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp chives
salt & pepper

The original recipe called for tarragon as well and 3 tbsp apple juice.


IMG_1050This year I am contributing with two dishes. The other is: Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Pecans and Cranberries.  I just think my Brussels Sprouts were not the best for some reason. Some of today’s farmers/ food producers just tend to pull the veggies before they are ready, which in this instance, left a little taste of bitterness to the dish. Luckily, the maple syrup, pecans and cranberries made up for it.

I’m usually a pro with baked Brussels Sprouts. I used some over sized ones hmm.. perhaps that was part of the problem. I also used some tiny ones so all in all, it balanced out. What a beautifully colored dish though- the healthy green, the delicious orange, the sweet red and then topped with the holiday star- pecans! This will likely be a hit as well.

Before I could leave with my sides, I just couldn’t forget my bestie; the sweet potato. The one who has been with me through every Thanksgiving. Sometimes with marshmallows and sometimes without. I didn’t see any vegan ones at the store I went to so I guess I’m marshmallow-less this year! it’s ok! Once again, there is plenty of food, even for us vegans.

IMG_1053I’m going with my favorite vegan turkey to date: Gardein! I’m both happy and proud to not be part of the 45 million turkey slaughter here in the U.S. just for this holiday. I’m grateful for many reasons every single day – family, friends, love, happiness and health; living honorably and respectfully in this amazing world we live in. I am also grateful to be vegan and part of the movement which will inevitably shape the future of how we treat animals, each other and our environment – our home!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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