Thanksgiving: Grateful for Family

Thanksgiving: a holiday reserved for celebrating food, family, and gratitude. The coziest time of year when the fall air is as crisp as the sunset colored leaves on the ground. Ahh I cannot wait! 


My family always spends Thanksgiving in retreat mode. We snuggle up under blankets by a fire in between walks (and meals) through rural Tennessee fields. This time spent with family is so precious to me. We get to catch up and tell stories and play family games into the early morning hours. The best part is when we, like every other family on this day of gratitude, gather around the table to share food and memories. 


This year, my mom gave me the task of preparing several vegan and gluten free dishes. She asked specifically for a whole roasted cauliflower for the "meat" of the dinner. I told her I would also make a crisp slaw and lentil "stuffing." I stepped out on a limb with dessert this year, and the result is unbelievably delicious. 

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My great grandmother is 97, and her health has started to deteriorate. This has been difficult for everyone. My great grandmother has lived a long life. She is full of sass and grit. She's endured a lot in 97 years. Born in 1920, she grew up in rural Tennessee during the Great Depression and World War 2. That's not to mention various family conflicts and crises. She's also had a life full of joy and love. My grandmother and her three living brothers all have children and grandchildren, so my great grandmother has 12 great grandchildren. When I was young, we would go visit my great grandmother and she would almost always have a fresh, warm, chocolate fudge pie waiting. It was my favorite. Gooey in the center, crisp on the top with a flaky crust, one bite and I was in heaven.

I haven't had this pie in years, but when I was talking to my grandmother on the phone a few days ago, I asked her to send me the recipe. She was surprised by this, and said, "You know it has butter and eggs in it." I told her I just wanted to see it. My goal was to make it "Maddie friendly" so everyone at Thanksgiving could partake in delicious pie and memories of our visits to great grandma. I had to do a significant amount of research to figure out how to replace the eggs and margarine. We all know pie is not complete unless you have the perfectly buttery, crumbly crust, and let me tell you, I nailed it with this recreation of my Great Grandma's Chocolate Fudge Pie. Thanksgiving gatherings usually call for pecan, apple, or pumpkin pie, but this year our family's dessert pays homage to our beautiful, strong matriarch. The lessons we have learned from her are beyond counting, and the love she has bestowed on every one of us exceeds measure. This year I'm thankful for the memories I have with my great grandma and for the time I get to spend with the rest of my extended family remembering the beautiful times we've spent in our rural Tennessee paradise. 

Below are the recipes I created for our Thanksgiving dinner this year. I hope you enjoy them, and share them with your loved ones during this special holiday season. 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

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  • one whole cauliflower
  • 1-2 Tablespoons avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin and paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, salt, and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • one yellow onion 


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Remove leaves, rinse, and dry cauliflower.
  3. Add all spices (including garlic) to a cast iron skillet, and warm over medium low heat for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant.
  4. Add warmed spices to a small bowl, and mix in oil. 
  5. Place cauliflower in the cast iron skillet and cover in spice/oil mixture. Make sure to cover the bottom.
  6. Chop the onion, and place in skillet with cauliflower.
  7. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until tender.
  8. Enjoy!

Black Lentil "Stuffing"

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  • one delicata squash
  • brussel sprouts (one package)
  • one cup dry black lentils
  • 10-15 medium sized shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado oil


  1. Start by roasting squash and brussel sprouts at 400F. Lightly cover both the squash and brussel sprouts in avocado oil. The squash should be tender (15-20 minutes), and the brussel sprouts crispy (35 minutes).
  2. Cook lentils according to package instructions.
  3. Chop onion, mushrooms, celery, carrots, garlic, and sage.
  4.  Add onions to a pan with one tablespoon of avocado oil over medium-low heat, and caramelize the onions. Cover pan with a lid, and stir every five or so minutes until onions have become golden and fragrant. 
  5. Add sage to the onions and cook for 5 minutes. 
  6. Add carrots and celery to onions and sage and cook until vegetables are slightly tender. 
  7. Finally, add mushrooms and garlic, and cook until everything is tender, about 15 minutes over medium-low heat.
  8. In a large bowl, add sautéed and roasted vegetables and lentils. Mix together and serve warm. 
  9. Enjoy!

Crisp Fall Slaw

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The Vegetables...

  • one small head broccoli
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 4 medium carrots
  • one apple
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/4 purple cabbage
  • parsley (to finish)

The Dressing...

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon oil (avocado, olive, grapeseed, etc)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  1. Chop all the vegetables and the apple into small pieces. I recommend using a mandolin for the apple, red onion, celery, carrots, and purple cabbage. Add all chopped ingredients to a large bowl.
  2. Add all dressing ingredients to a bowl, and whisk until smooth. 
  3. Pour dressing over the vegetables, and toss until everything is coated. 
  4. Store in the refrigerator. This slaw is best served after 12-24 hours. 
  5. Enjoy!

Simple Cranberry Sauce

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  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • juice and zest of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Add all ingredients to a sauce pan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Simmer until all cranberries have burst, and it looks like a smooth sauce.
  3. Enjoy!

Great Grandma's Chocolate Fudge Pie

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For the crust...

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  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup garbanzo (or chickpea) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons coconut oil *not melted*
  • 4 Tablespoons ice cold water
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar

For the filling...

  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup evaporated coconut milk*
  • 3 Tablespoons cacao
  • 1 Tablespoon lucuma
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons kuzu


  1. Preheat the oven at 350F. 
  2. Add the flours, salt, and sugar (if using) to a medium bowl. Whisk dry ingredients to combine. 
  3. Add the coconut oil, and mix into the flour mixture with a fork until a crumbly dough forms. 
  4. Add the water and continue to mix the dough with a fork until incorporated. 
  5. Put dough in a greased pie pan, and bake for 15 minutes. 
  6. For the filling, beat flax eggs, evaporated coconut milk, vanilla, and kuzu (before adding kuzu, make sure you grind out the clumps with the back of a spoon or with a mortar and pestle).
  7. Next, add applesauce, cacao, lucuma, and coconut sugar, and beat again. 
  8. Pour filling on top of baked crust, and bake for 20 minutes, until firm.
  9. Enjoy!

*To make evaporated coconut milk, add a can of coconut milk to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 35-45 minutes, until about half has evaporated. Store in the refrigerator.