With Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away, throughout November I’ll be sharing a series of seasonally inspired, plant based and inherently vegan, communal-table recipes. The sort that scream Thanksgiving comfort without leaving our bellies just a little too full and our jeans just a little too snug. So much of a holiday – those familiar smells, flavors, memories, that specialness that unequivocally identifies Thanksgiving – is the meal’s connotation. Remarkable or slightly overcooked, it’s those magical few hours where we’re given the opportunity to step away from the chaos and truly live in an afternoon of gratitude and togetherness. From my table to yours, I hope these recipes find their way onto your plates, into your family traditions, so you can shine your holiday brightest. x Alexandra
With holiday season just a few weeks away, it goes without saying a sudden spike in holiday cheer may be accompanied by a corresponding surge in caloric intake (cue beloved pumpkin pie and office cookie swaps). Temptations running high, it’s all too easy to reach for the candied-ginger gingerbread loaf, that pumpkin spiced latte with an extra heaping dollop of whipped cream, leaving our beach bod goals back in the summer sand, a problem for next year. But what if we could set ourselves up for a healthful holiday? Instead, making our Thanksgivings more than just an opportunity to indulge our bellies, an evening to nourish every aspect of our beings. Stuffing, cakes, pies, cookies, morning muffins don’t have to be a thing of Thanksgivings past, with a few simple alterations and words of wisdom to live by.
Every Turkey has a Sweet Tooth – knowing full well there’s no holding us (me) back from the pie, consider bringing a lighter, more nourishing version to your table. Taking your favorite recipe, try substituting coconut sugar, pure maple syrup, or even raw honey for the white sugar to make your confection more easily digestible and less processed. With minimal flavor or aesthetic difference, the lower blood sugar spike will leave you feeling lighter and brighter, ready to keep partying on.
Live the Life in Motion – whether you’re heading out for a crisp morning jog, striking a warrior three, or transforming your living room into an at-home aerobics studio, staying physically active, especially during the holidays, is a must. Not only could we all use the motion, those extra morning endorphins, but a recent study found adults, on average, gained more than one pound of body weight during the winter holidays, with weight gain sticking throughout the following year. The good news- people who reported the most physical activity throughout the holiday season showed the least weight gain, or managed to maintain or lose weight.
Moderation, Moderation – instead of avoiding the sweets, depriving ourselves of those holiday favorites, skip the store-bought cookies, the cheese-plate, instead saving room for homemade treats that hold those special memories. Deprivation will only leave you with a sour mood with the potential of overeating later on. On a similar note, filling a plate with a little bit of everything on the table can easily spiral into more food than you bargained for. Plan to snack on something light before ‘the big meal’, like a bowl of muesli or porridge with berries, a small green salad, or fresh pear, satiating hunger before you really start digging in.
There are no Rules – rather than approaching your holiday with a hard set of dos and don’ts, those unattainable and short term goal all-or-nothings bound to set you up for longer term failure, this season set your intention on joy. Allowing ourselves those 24 hours of pure holiday magic to be in the moment, to put our dietary qualms and anxieties aside, to take nibbles of our favorite treats, those traditional plates, builds more positive memories, a more positive attitude, and the opportunity to strengthen our sense of self worth.
Live in the Moment – with so much emphasis placed on the holiday meal, this season I challenge us all to take the focus off the food and instead channel that energy towards enjoying family, tradition, community, and reflection. It is too easy to get caught up in counting calories, anxiety, and restrictive thoughts. Instead of making the meal the spotlight, turn that light inward and towards the people at your table to truly enjoy their company and the tradition of the evening.
The: what to eat when the clock strikes Thanksgiving morning and you’re already in the mood for pie, but are trying to maintain some semblance of holiday healthful to get you through the day. In the habit of beginning my holiday mornings with a simultaneously nourishing, yet indulgent treat, today I couldn’t be more excited to share my Pumpkin Cashew ‘Cream Cheese’ Muesli Muffins, a mouthful we can all stand behind. Inspired by those cream cheese filled, white sugar and white flour packed Starbucks delights, this naturally sweetened, delectably moist, and sinfully nourishing alternative is packed to the brim with warming autumn spices, luscious pumpkin, creamy cashew filling, and Seven Sundays unsweetened Swiss-style Bircher Muesli. Delicious on its own, soaked overnight in almond milk, or used in your holiday baking, Seven Sundays’ muesli is made with an abundance of whole grain oats, rye, and barley, almonds, apples, dates and cinnamon. Plant based protein and fiber rich, these muffins provide that holiday morning indulgence, comforting without those comfort food woes. I serve my vegan pumpkin muffin with a piping mug of black coffee and an extra dollop of cashew cream.
Pumpkin Cashew ‘Cream Cheese’ Muesli Muffins [makes 6 muffins]
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
½ cup coconut oil, liquid
½ cup + 1 teaspoon coconut sugar, divided
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk, divided
1 tablespoon molasses
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 cup Seven Sundays Unsweetened Bircher Muesli
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup raw cashews, soaked in warm water for 1 hour, then drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, rack in the middle. Line an extra large muffin pan with 6 paper liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or your favorite large bowl), whisk together pumpkin puree, coconut oil, ½ cup coconut sugar, ¼ cup almond milk, molasses, and vanilla extract until well combined.
In a large bowl, combine Muesli, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just mixed.
Fill the muffin tins two=thirds full and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Meanwhile, while muffins are baking, in a food processor fitted with an S-blade, or a coffee grinder, blend soaked cashews with remaining 2 tablespoons almond milk, 1 teaspoon coconut sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract until very smooth.
Once muffins have been removed from oven, use a cylindrical object to carefully press a whole ½ the muffin deep (I used a wine cork). Using a spoon or a piping bag, fill each whole with the cashew cream mixture. Sprinkle with extra coconut sugar and cinnamon, if desired, then place muffins in oven to cool.
Nutritional Information [per muffin]
470 Calories, 26g Fat, 56g Carbohydrates, 8g Fiber, 24g Sugar, 8g Protein
Thank you Seven Sundays for sponsoring this post and thank you for reading!