Thriving at Thanksgiving

Let me begin with a moment of honesty about going home to the Midwest for Thanksiving this year: I was excited to see family and slightly concerned for the non-vegan food available for the holiday dinner.  After having lived in California for the last few years, this was the first time I had been home for Thanksgiving since 2006. I knew that I would be surrounded by turkey and ham, other meat-flavored dishes, and plenty of food adorned with butter. On top of that, the last time I had visited for Thanksgiving, I was vegetarian (not yet vegan) and had to navigate all the questions and comments about my lack-of-meat food choices; and therefore, as my father would call it, “un-American.”  I decided to be pro-active as possible and bring my own food. I opted for my standard kale salad with a lemon-ginger vinegarette dressing tossed with black beans, cranberries, chopped apples, and homemade roasted walnuts coupled with VegNews’ Guilt-Free Mashed Potatoes. These garlic-infused potatoes were combined with a full heaping cup of cooked red lentils and veggie broth, adding a boost of flavor to the dish. The recommended fresh rosemary added a subtle hint of familiar holiday flavor that was much appreciated. Both of these dishes were full of flavor and coziness; they helped me feel at home at a table whose food selection had become uncommon to me.

Surprisingly, my family,even my father, accepted these dishes as part of the Thanksgiving spread. Placed between the buttered rolls and honey-baked ham, my dishes were welcomed as part of this traditional turkey and dressing celebration. Somehow seeing my large mint-green salad bowl and my garlic mashed potatoes at the table made me also feel welcomed. A couple of my cousins even sampled the vegan dishes; and one remarked that even though she hadn’t tasted anything like that before, she did like the kale salad. I was pleasantly surprised that the holiday was better than I had expected. It hadn’t centered on who was eating (or not eating) what but rather the shared gratitude of being with family. With a new baby cousin in the family, the attention, rightfully so, was focused on her.

Baby Sophia eating her first solid food: sweet potatoes! Yum!

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1 Response to Thriving at Thanksgiving

  1. Karla Droste says:

    Amber! I love that you are sharing your creativity with all of us! That kale salad sounds delicious and healthful. We eat every day and you make it sound like fun to prepare food. It is a joy to read your column, thank you!

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