A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

The original Thanksgiving was not a banquet of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie with whipped cream and…and…and whatever else you can cram down your gullet before collapsing into the recliner in a food coma. It was a three-day harvest celebration (and not repeated for many years), attended by the early American settlers as well as the natives who initially welcomed them and helped them adapt to and survive in a harsh and unfamiliar landscape.

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Healthy Carbohydrates – Whole Grains

Whole grains consist of three parts – the endosperm, the germ, and the bran. The bran (outer layer) is rich in B vitamins, fiber, healthy fats, minerals, and protein. The germ (the middle layer) consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, protein, and vitamins. When whole grains are refined, the bran and often the germ are removed. There go all those healthy nutrients, blown away in the wind. What’s left is the endosperm, high in very easily digested carbohydrates and very little else.

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Recipe: Pillow Biscuits

The key to a healthier biscuit is to replace some (no more than half) of the enriched flour with whole wheat flour. The biscuits will be too heavy if you use all whole wheat flour. Such is the nature of whole grains! In addition to the leavening agents in this recipe, folding the dough over into layers also helps inject air into these biscuits. Hence their airy name.

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Recipe: Grilled Asparagus Linguine with Mushroom Vinaigrette

I confess, I’m not much of an Asian foodie.

Nothing against Asian culture, people, or their food…I just didn’t grow up eating it, so I never developed a taste for it. On the rare occasion Mom made some sort of vegetarian meat-replacement Asian recipe it usually involved sweet-and-sour sauce, which I cannot stand to this day.

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Summer Squash in the Vegetarian Diet

When I was a kid, the mere mention of the word squash sent me screaming for the hills. It had no flavor, and I couldn’t stand the soft, mushy texture.

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The Pumpkin in the Vegetarian Diet

Pumpkins are native to the Americas, with seeds going back 9,000 years discovered in Mexico. They were a versatile item, used not only for food and medicine, but as containers when hollowed out and dried. They were one of the foods that the early European settlers, thanks to the natives who showed them the way, were able to survive on, given their nutrient content and the fact that they kept well, without rotting, for many months (having grown them myself, I can attest to this fact!). This is the main reason the pumpkin is so closely identified with the Fall harvest and with Thanksgiving.

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Eggplant in the Vegetarian Diet

If you’ve ever looked at that mysterious, shiny, dark purple vegetable in the produce section at the grocery store and wondered what in the world you would do with it, you’re not alone. The name alone is off-putting. Eggplant. I prefer the French word for it: aubergine. But, for the sake of continuity, I will continue to refer to it as eggplant here.

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Recipe: Lasagna Roll-Ups

This is a post-church potluck vegetarian recipe my mother came up with as self-defense against homemade stuffed shells. If you have ever tried to stuff anything into those jumbo pasta shells, you know exactly what I mean. They shoot out of your hands like torpedoes, they drop in the sink or on the floor, your hands are covered in cheese goop, and by the time you’re done you’ve lost your appetite and never want to see a stuffed shell again.

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Recipe: Greek Scalloped Potatoes

No heavy cream sauce or rubbery cheese layer failing to hide the lack of flavor in these scalloped potatoes!

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Recipe: Three Sisters Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

In most Native American traditions, beans, corn, and squash are known as the Three Sisters – gifts from nature to sustain life. Full of complementary proteins, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, this hearty soup is perfect for those crisp early Fall evenings.

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