Thanksgiving might be the ultimate You. We. All. holiday, with an emphasis on giving back, gratitude, and community—and, of course, plenty of delicious food. While a typical Thanksgiving table might be enough to induce a stomachache based on sight alone, we think of the holiday as an opportunity to nourish your body, in addition to your soul. With that in mind, we reached out to some of the year’s biggest food stars to share their favorite healthy Thanksgiving recipe, and some tips, tricks, and traditions that help them get through the holiday with a smile on their face (and bellyache free!).
First up: Jessica Murnane, author of the best-selling cookbook One Part Plant, and host of the mega-successful podcast One Part Podcast. Jessica’s plant-forward food philosophy has helped her (and Lena Dunham, who wrote her book’s foreword!) deal with the oft-debilitating pain of endometriosis, and her easy-to-make recipes will help even the least confident cook bring a wow-worthy dish to the table. Today, she’s sharing her Za’atar Sweet Potatoes and Garlicky Kale recipe and her tips for throwing the perfect plant-based Thanksgiving.
mbg: What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or rituals?
JM: CHILLING. My husband's parents do most of the cooking. I do make a couple of simple plant-based sides for everyone, but for the most part, I'm chilling. Reading magazines, snuggled under some blankets in front of a fire, drinking a cocktail, doing puzzles, and chilling hard with my family. I completely unplug on Thanksgiving, and it feels awesome.
mbg: What's the secret to the ultimate plant-based Thanksgiving?
JM: It's all about taking the classics and making them more plant-based! Use almond milk in your mashed potatoes instead of dairy. Use a great nut-based butter (I love Mikoyo's Creamery Butter) for your succotash instead of margarine or traditional butter. Make your own whipped coconut cream or buy some already made instead of the processed whipped stuff in the tub. Most of your friends and family will have no idea you're making these swaps because they'll taste just as awesome.
mbg: When you're feeling super full and gross post-Thanksgiving, what do you do to feel better?
JM: Without sounding like a total a-hole, since I changed over to a plant-based diet, I don't feel super gross and full anymore. I thought you had to feel that way on Thanksgiving! But there are still times when I might go a little overboard on the pie. When I do, I'll go jump on the trampoline (my husband's mom has been into rebounding way before it was cool) or do some situps or pushups. Just a little body movement to get back on track and let my body know we're cool again.
Za'atar Sweet Potatoes and Garlicky Kale
Sweet potatoes are in the anti-inflammatory family of foods, which can help with the bloat during the holidays. Don't get me wrong; I'll probably still be having some good old-fashioned mashed potatoes, too. But it's good to mix it up. Feeling less bloated is always a bonus on this holiday!
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 medium-size sweet potatoes, cut into cubes (about 4 cups)
- Olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 bunch kale, destemmed and roughly chopped (about 6 cups)
- Sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- To make the za’atar, first toast the sesame seeds. In a small dry pan, heat the seeds over medium for 3 to 5 minutes, until they’re lightly browned. Stir occasionally, so they don’t burn. Let them cool. In a small bowl, combine the sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, and salt.
- Fill a medium pot halfway with water, and bring it to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and parboil them (cook them just until they start to soften). This will take 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a medium bowl. Toss them with a glug of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the za’atar seasoning until coated.
- Spread the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet and roast them for 10 minutes. Using a spatula, move them around on the baking sheet and continue roasting for another 5 minutes or until they begin to slightly brown.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the remaining za’atar and set it aside.
- In a large skillet, heat a glug of olive oil over medium. When the pan is hot, add the garlic. Sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant, about a minute. Add the greens and stir until they turn bright green and begin to soften. Add the sweet potatoes and heat everything for a few more minutes. Top the vegetables with some of the za’atar and oil mixture and serve.
Recipe is excerpted from One Part Plant by Jessica Murnane, with the permission of Harper Wave, a division of Harper Collins. Copyright © 2017.
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