It’s Thanksgiving week, and I’m already leaning into a relaxed holiday pace. I took my time getting ready for work this morning, and had breakfast with my 2-year old, Toby, at home. As the little guy enjoyed his banana and trail mix in his jammies, I tossed some fruits and veggies into the blender for a breakfast smoothie.
This smoothie reminds me of the thick, creamy consistency of a layered pumpkin dessert my mom used to make, without the pumpkin. I used apple pie spice because that’s what was handy, but you could substitute cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a hint of cloves if you have them. Pumpkin pie spice wouldn’t be bad, either.
I use a Vitamix for smoothies, and the high-speed motor handles roughly-chopped raw carrots. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, using shredded or chopped carrots may help make it easier to blend.
Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie
1cupunsweetened vanilla almond milk
1tsplight agave nectar
1scoopvanilla protein powder
1/8tspApple Pie Spicesee note below
1frozen ripe banana
2tbspNathan's Vanilla Almond Butter
1small to medium applecored but not peeled
In a high-speed blender, add ingredients in order (almond milk first.)
Blend at high speed or on smoothie setting for 50 seconds, until smooth.
Makes 2 servings.
I use Penzey's Apple Pie Spice. It's a blend of two types of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and cloves. A good substitution would be 1/8 tsp cinnamon, a bit of grated nutmeg, and a dash of ground cloves.
We’re food people, so Thanksgiving is our holiday. Preparations begin weeks in advance. If we’re smart, a spreadsheet is involved. If we’re very smart, we prepare as much as we can in advance. (We’re usually not that smart, even with the best of intentions.)
As the turkey timer winds down, not a surface is left uncovered, not a pot left unused in the glorious ballet of kitchen chaos. All available hands are plating, mashing, whipping, and carving. The CO detector usually goes off in the middle of this madness, from using the oven and most of the burners all day. Last year, the turkey ended up resting in a hallway.
Somehow, we all land around the table, and someone says “go!” And if we’re lucky, we still have room for our plates on the table amongst the feast.
It’s not that we’re gluttonous – I just think we all want our favorites for Thanksgiving, and it’s a time when we look forward to creating all these special dishes for each other.
As family Thanksgivings moved from my grandma’s house to either my parents’ or my own house, old favorites came along. There’s turkey, of course, though it’s been upgraded from frozen Butterball to fresh, Amish-raised. There must always be stuffing (a.k.a. dressing) and mashed potatoes, because where else would you put the gravy? Sweet potatoes have evolved quite a bit over the years; the marshmallows of old have been replaced by ginger and maple syrup.
This carb-fest is usually balanced out by various and rotating vegetable dishes. This is where we get the most variety. Last year, my brother-in-law, Ben and his wife, Natalie, made some delicious green beans with pecans and tarragon. The previous year, Ben hand-shaved a large amount of fresh brussels sprouts and tossed them with a lemony dressing.
This year, I was looking for a fresh fruit salad to bring to Thanksgiving at my mom and dad’s, and I created this persimmon salad. Persimmons are a fruit I only recently discovered. They’ve easy to use if you can get them at the correct state of ripeness. There are no peels or seeds to discard, just remove the stem and dice them up. They pair prefectly with apples and pomegranate seeds, two other great fall fruits. The sweet-spicy dressing with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and honey brings it all together, creating a fresh and crisp salad that pairs perfectly with your choice of Thanksgiving carbs.
Remove the stems from the persimmons and cut into a small dice
Core the apple and dice into small pieces.
Score the skin of the pomegranate in quarters. Fill a medium-sized bowl with water. Placing the pomegranate under water in the bowl, pull the quarters apart and gently loosen the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the pieces of white membrane will float to the top. Pour off part of the water and the membrane pieces and drain the pomegranate seeds in a colander.
In a large bowl, combine persimmons, apple, pomegranate seeds, and minced fennel.
In a smaller bowl, combine ingredients for the dressing. Whisk together until brown sugar is dissolved.
Pour dressing over salad, and toss gently to combine.
Optional: garnish with green fennel fronds before serving.
You may find a few different kinds of persimmons in the store. I use Jiro persimmons for this salad, one of the more common varieties. They look like a slightly-flattened orange tomato. They are ripe when they feel slightly over-ripe by tomato standards, or almost gelatinous under their skin. Read more about persimmons on Wikipedia.
It’s solidly November, but the weather here still changes throughout each week. We’re prepared for anything, from winter-coat winds to days where you accidentally leave your jacket at work.
And speaking of work, I’ve been trying to take a lunch more often. This Sunday, I’m planning a meal prep session. I’m not sure what to cook yet, but I’ll probably make a soup, roasted veggies, a protein or two, and a crunchy salad. So I’ve been experimenting with apples and jicama, which are both easy to spiralize and pair well with the roasted root vegetables I’m planning to make.
The flavors in this salad are a bridge from early to late fall. Spiralized jicama and apples provide a juicy crunch, grapefruit adds a bitter note of winter citrus, and the sweet-spicy honey clove dressing brings spicy warmth.
Jicama Grapefruit Salad with Honey Clove Dressing
1medium jicama, peeled
1/2honeycrisp apple, unpeeled
1pink grapefruit - peeled, segmented, and diced
2tbspextra-virgin olive oil
Spiralize the jicama and apple with the spaghetti blade. (If you don't have a spiralizer, they can be finely julienned.) Add the grapefruit.
In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Season with salt to taste.
Pour dressing over jicama mixture and toss to combine. Serve chilled.