Food to Give Thanks For

by Anouk Booneman

And just like that, Thanksgiving is around the corner. My inbox is filling up with Holiday related recipes. Every magazine that reaches my physical mailbox, is promising the best Thanksgiving ever. Apparently, it’s time to bake, roast and shake things up. Thanksgiving is my favorite American Holiday. We have had some very memorable celebrations over the years. This year, we are celebrating at home. A Dutch friend will be spending a few days Upstate and requested a Thanksgiving Feast. Whenever I cook for a crowd, I have a few key rules that I adhere to, so I can minimize stress and amp my enthusiasm for the process. After all I want to have fun as well. This is what I usually do to make hosting enjoyable.

*I plan my menu carefully. With all the culinary blogs and newsletters that I am reading, it is easy to get carried away. This is not the time to make 10 side dishes (if you want ten side dishes, put other people to work), or try new or overly complicated recipes. Personally, I like to make almost everything ahead, to avoid last minute stress. Simplicity is the key here.

*Groceries will be in my house a few days in advance. Now is also the time to order a turkey or a vegan roast and stock up on anything that you might need. I routinely start adding staples like pumpkin puree, flour, or sugar to my cart when I run errands.

*Its not overly complicated to keep a vegan, gluten-free or keto guest happy. I make sure to have a variety of dishes that everyone can enjoy.

*I have a game plan. The day before, during and after. I write down everything that needs to happen and adjust accordingly. No need to execute it perfectly, but it’s very helpful to keep focus (my mind tends to wander a lot) and control.

*I will use traditional staples for Thanksgiving but will probably give a little twist to traditional recipes. The following recipes are a mix of new recipes that look easy enough to add, and old ones that we can’t get enough of. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Small pre dinner bites/drinks

Its tempting, but I try not to go overboard here with massive (vegan) cheese or charcuterie boards that have become so popular. I might do a few (vegan) cheeses and crackers, make a few dips in advance, add some olives and almonds. Vegan cheeses have gone a long way. While I am still not a fan of Daiya (they are making progress though) or Tofurky- Miyoko’s, Kite Hill and Viola are making good vegan cheeses. They are easy to find at local supermarkets.

I am going to try David Lebovitz’s pretzel and nut mix. Check out his website for more Thanksgiving ideas. His desserts are fantastic.

Pretzel and nut mix (David Lebovitz)

  • 2 cups (200g) mixed raw nuts, (untoasted); any combination of cashews, whole almonds, peanuts, pecan halves, and hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, melted (use Miyoko’s butter to make this vegan)
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper powder, (see Note, below
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 cups (100g) small pretzel twists (use gluten free if needed)
  • Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350ºF (180ºC) oven for 10 minutes, stirring once for even toasting.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and maple syrup.
  • Add the warm nuts, stirring until coated. Then mix in the salt and pretzels, and stir until the nuts and pretzels are completely coated.
  • Spread the mixture back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 12-18 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely, separating the nuts and pretzels as they cool.

In a pinch I really like Trader Joe’s dips, but this pumpkin dip is very easy to make in advance. Use any leftovers to make a salad dressing.

Pumpki Hummus

  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cuminjuice of half a lemon
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil (add more if needed)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except olive oil and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Slowly add olive oil in small increments as food processor is running until it reaches desired consistency.

Keep your drinks easy and accessible. We served the following drink a few times at our Spring into Health workshops and I will make it again. It can be made ahead and in a pitcher. Everyone can help themselves and it’s delicious. There are tons of nonalcoholic beverages available these days, and they are very good. Check out for non alcoholic drinks and beverages. In my household we are big fans of the brand Gnista. This Swedish company makes really good non-alcoholic spirits.

New England Rum Express

Adapted from Bon Appetit (Serves: 8)


  • Thyme Syrup
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 8 sprigs thyme


  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1½ cups dark rum
  • ¾ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Angostura bitters
  • Club soda
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 8 lime slices

Thyme Syrup

  1. Bring sugar and ⅓ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Remove from heat, add thyme sprigs, and cover.
  3. Let stand 10 minutes, then strain into a small jar. Let cool.
  4. DO AHEAD: Syrup can be made 1 month ahead. Cover and chill.


  1. Mix thyme syrup, cider, rum, lime juice, and bitters in a pitcher.
  2. Divide among rocks glasses filled with ice; top off with club soda. Garnish with thyme sprigs and lime slices.
  3. DO AHEAD: Thyme syrup, cider, rum, lime juice, and bitters can be mixed 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill

Main menu

If your Holiday table is plant based, I suggest that you forget anything that has the word tofu in it and try this roast instead Check out a vegan holiday roast that looks interesting-its vegan turkey stuffed with wild mushroom, potatoes, red quinoa and sweet potato

Since there will be plenty of squash in my CSA box I will make the following. It’s easy and looks beautiful.

Stuffed Winter Squash with Wild Rice, Cranberries and Hazelnuts Adapted from the Vegan Holiday Cookbook, Isa Chandra Moskowitz


  • 3 round winter squashes (acorn and small pumpkin work really well)
  • olive oil for brushing

Wild Rice Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, medium dice
  • 3 sliced celery ribs
  • Thyme and sage (fresh) or 1 tsp dried each
  • 1 cup shelled hazelnuts, posted and roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Roast the squash and make the rice. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Lightly coat the squash with olive oil on the inside and out and sprinkle lightly with the salt. Place the squash cut side down on the lined baking sheet. Bake until the flesh is soft and can be easily pierced by a fork, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it hang until the filling is ready.
  3. At the same time cook the rice according to the package directions, using the vegetable broth and the salt.
  4. When the squash and the rice are done, prepare the filling. Preheat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Heat the coconut oil, then sauté the onion and celery until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and sage. Cook for one more minute. Remove from the heat, toss in the cooked wild rice, hazelnuts and dried cranberries. Add the brown sugar and chopped parsley and stir to combine. Add the salt and a few grinds of black pepper and adjust to taste
  5. Fill each squash with ½ to ⅓ cup of the rice mixture and serve


The following recipe is part of our yearly holiday rotation. It’s adapted from Ottolenghi, and an absolute favorite. Fresh figs are very seasonal but should be available around Thanksgiving. If you can’t find them swap them for roasted onion or canned figs. I will use canned figs this year, if I can’t find fresh ones.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs Salad w/ Goat Cheese. Ottolenghi


  • 4 small sweet potatoes (2 ¼ lb.)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 12 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 ½ -in segments
  • 1 red chile, thinly sliced (you can use a jalapeno pepper instead)
  • 6 ripe figs (8 ½ oz ), quartered
  • 5 oz soft goat's milk cheese (optional or use a vegan brand)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthwise, and then cut each half again similarly into 3 long wedges. Mix with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and some black pepper. 
  3. Spread the wedges out, skin side down, on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
  4. To make the balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle.
  5. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the green onions and chile. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often to make sure not to burn the chile. 
  6. Spoon the oil, onions, and chile over the sweet potatoes. Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature. Crumble the cheese over the top, if using.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with maple syrup (Bon appetit magazine

  • 2# Brussels Sprouts halved
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1,5 butter (olive oil/Miyokos butter work too)
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce (use Tamari to make this Gluten free)
  • 2 tsp sriracha (I might use my latest favorite condiment Momofuku’s hot chili crunch here)

Place a rack in the middle of the oven, preheat to 400 degrees. Place Brussels sprouts on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oi. Sprinkle with salt and season with pepper. Toss to coat and arrange in a single layer. Roast Brussels sprouts until golden brown crisp and tender 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile cook maple syrup in a medium sauce over medium heat. Whisk in butter, soy sauce (or Tamari) and Sriracha and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Pour into a bowl and let cool slightly. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a plate. Drizzle the sauce over the sports. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve warm or room temperature with lime wedges.

My favorite Thanksgiving dish might be the cranberry sauce. I ordered my fresh cranberries from the farm. These sauces can be made ahead and will keep for a few days.

Cranberry Chutney with Golden Raisins and Fennel 

Adapted from Cook’s illustrated


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cored fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 12 ounces (3 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup golden raisin
  1. If using frozen cranberries, thaw them before cooking.
  2. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until just shimmering. Add shallot, fennel, fennel seeds, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add water, vinegar, and sugar. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add 1½ cups cranberries; return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have almost completely broken down and mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add remaining 1½ cups cranberries and raisins; continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to burst, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl and cool for at least 1 hour before serving. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Cranberry Sauce With Pears and Fresh Ginger 


  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup coconut sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 bag 12 oz (frozen or fresh) cranberries
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 medium firm, ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch chunks
  1. Bring water, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt to boil in medium nonreactive saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. 
  2. Stir in cranberries and pears; return to boil. 
  3. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until saucey, slightly thickened, and about two-thirds of berries have popped open, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Transfer to nonreactive bowl, cool to room temperature, and serve. 
  5. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving

If you want a healthy dessert, the following recipe hits the spot. It’s a great recipe too to use all those pumpkins and leftover cranberries. Leftovers can be used the following days in a smoothie. We have made at one of our workshops and it was really good. Full disclosure here. I will probably not make this since I had a few pie requests. The pumpkin pie will be purchased, but I will make my own pecan and apple pie. I recently had a pretty good result with a vegan, gluten free apple pie using a combination of recipes from the minimalist baker.

Raw Pumpkin Parfaits w/ Cranberries & Ginger Whipped "Cream"

(Servings: 4, Makes about 4 cups)

Pumpkin Purée:

  • ½ medium pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (you need to use a sugar pumpkin for this)
  • ¼ - ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons raw agave nectar or sweetener of choice

Place pumpkin, cinnamon and agave in food processor or high-speed blender. Pulse until puréed, adding water as needed. You will have to scrape down the sides of the food processor while processing.

Ginger Whipped “Cream”:

  • ½ cup cashews, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons raw agave nectar or liquid sweetener of your choice

Place cashews and water in high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Add melted coconut oil, fresh ginger and raw agave. Process until well blended. Transfer to container and chill until set.

Cranberry Layer:

  • 1 cup frozen cranberries, thawed
  •  ¼ cup raw agave nectar

Place in food processor and process until purée is achieved. I like this layer to be a little chunky.

Pecan Layer:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place pecans and cinnamon in food processor. Pulse until chopped.

In parfait glass, place a layer of pecans, topped with a layer of the pumpkin purée, a layer of cranberries then a layer of the ginger whipped “cream”. Repeat topping with more pecans.

AnoukFinal.jpegAnouk Booneman

Anouk is co-founder of Spring Into Health, was a baker at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and a language teacher before moving to Clifton Park. She believes that industrialized eating has created major health crises all over of the globe and that food can be the strongest medicine. She is also a yoga instructor.
Click on her pictures for her articles.

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