Thanksgiving Gamechangers

TurkeyDinnerRollsLargeThanksgiving is an interesting day for a vegetarian. Yes, the option of having a “bread turkey” has been visited, but I have never been one to get on board for swapping protein for carbs. I’ve had black bean burgers on my plate for many years, and frankly, it’s a little sad. I have friends that opt out and go for Noodles mac&cheese, but to my last points, I am determined this year to be more included in my favorite holiday.

This year, whole foods it is. Regardless of a specialized diet, it’s great to have options that you will be happy with during the feast that won’t leave you in a food coma. I promise these recipes are tried and true, even by coworkers terrified of kale. Let’s get cooking:

Autumn Salad

-2 cucumbersIMG_3690
-2 honeycrisp apples
-2 cups steamed/sauteed kale (optional)
-1/4 french baguette*
-1/2 chopped red onion
-3/4 cup dried cranberries (note: not craisins but just a health preference)
-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
-cover in balsamic vinegar** and olive oil
*If celiac sensitive: swap for quinoa, or leave out.
**Little known fact that I love to share: balsamic vinegar is amazing to pair with anything starchy (bring some for those mashed potatoes!) because it slows the spike in your blood sugar that comes from digesting carbs. On Thanksgiving, my blood sugar will take any help it can get.

The BEST Apple Butternut Squash Soup
(this is actually a Martha Stewart recipe, not a Sarah Reed original but I make it a lot so that counts for something, yes?)

I swap the chicken stock for vegetable broth and butter for coconut oil- highly recommend!

Balsamic Eggplant & Tofu
This is like my version of meat and potatoes, the end result is just about as colorful but don’t be fooled, this is filling and nutrient packed.

thanksgiving2 eggplants
1 package of extra firm tofu (TJ’s has my favorite)
Coconut oil
At least 2 cups balsamic vinegar
Cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, other seasoning as desired
1-2 handfuls raw almonds

Dice eggplant and place large pot with simmered 2 tbsp coconut oil. Pour 3/4 cup water over eggplant and cover
Stir occasionally, around 15 minutes until eggplant will be soft. Drain excess water and pour enough balsamic vinegar to cover top layer, cover again. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until balsamic is absorbed. Add sesame seeds & serve. (4 servings)

Slice tofu into diced quadrants, and soak in bowl of balsamic vinegar for 10 minutes. Add tofu to simmered coconut oil in sauce pan, flip tofu slices once golden brown (about 10 minutes). Expedited route: add balsamic vinegar to tofu after flipping, instead of marinating. Add in almonds while the second side browns, or add at end. (2-4 servings)

ENJOY and as always, let me know what you try!

 

Give Thanks

Dark early mornings, crowded stores, and frantic (to say the least) shoppers come to mind when we think of the unofficial holiday that sits at the heels of Thanksgiving. However, the rising sun, a warm room with zen music, and yogis on their mats made up my Black Friday this year.

Teaching yoga while I am home for holidays breaks is more than “convenient” or “a great set up,” it’syoga rejuvenating, grounding, and incredibly rewarding.

Although I have the opportunity to teach yoga at school as well, there’s a comforting nostalgia when I am able to come back to the studios where I gained so much experience early on in my yoga career. I remember the summer days I taught on the outdoor deck, telling my students about my first year away from home, and working on remembering my sequences without looking at my written out plan for the class.

Remembering these classes reminds me how much has changed in the last four years. As college students, we don’t always realize how much we change and grow. I think it’s because we forget that we are growing- we forget we’re young- so we can’t imagine ourselves much differently than who we are today.

Regardless of age or stage in life, I think we all forget to take a moment to recognize how far we have come. We are always thinking about what’s left on the to-do list, what title we haven’t accomplished, and the places we haven’t seen. However, it’s what we have done, who we’ve become and where we’ve been that set the stage for everything that is to come. Without recognizing this, we lose the opportunity to learn from and appreciate each and every experience.

In an age of new not being new enough, there’s something to be said for going back to the basics.

gratitudeThanksgiving wins year after year as my favorite holiday, I find so much charm in its simplicity and values-based celebration.  We spend time, rather than money; celebrate the gift of life, rather than new possessions; and fill our plates, rather than our greed.

However, with the holiday shopping season starting earlier and earlier every year, we run the risk of this holiday- and this grounding mindset- being lost in the shuffle. Regardless of stores’ opening hours, I believe expressing gratitude, whether its to others or to yourself, preserves the essence of Thanksgiving.

No, we may not be able to avoid the consumer-crazy season. However, remembering the value in what you already have may be even more intriguing than shiny and sleek items. Who knows, maybe you’ll even put down the to-do list down and cross a few items of your wish list instead.