I have this sign hanging up in my room, and this week it’s especially relevant. I’m not sure why these trendy signs with obvious/yet meaningful quotes resonate so much with me…in fact my brother-in-law thinks they are ridiculous, at one time he counted 8 “quote” signs in my house…
I’m totally guilty of losing perspective every so often and getting dragged into the daily grind, focusing more on what I have to do in the next hour than being grateful and recognizing what I have (hence the sign as a nice reminder). Regardless of your current situation, it really is worth remembering that there IS always, always something to be thankful for. I’m thankful for all the amazing people in my life (family, friends, my boyfriend and yes, my pup as well).
The best way I can show my gratitude for the special people in my life is, you probably guessed it, through food. Food is definitely my universal language! I know I’m not the only one- this month’s issue of National Geographic magazine covers “The Joy of Food.” Whether it’s a dinner date, lunch with co-workers, class picnics, birthday cake or an ice cream social, the power of food is present. It can forge relationships, bury anger, celebrate and provoke laughter. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s apparent just how important the role food plays in holiday celebrations. What other reason could you have for slaving away in the kitchen for day(s) to prepare something that will be consumed and gone within a matter of hours? Food doesn’t just add to our celebrations, it’s the main course!
So this year, we have guests flying in to celebrate Turkey Day! Our family is spread out across the country (and some overseas), so time to visit is precious. Contrary to the reality of years past, Thanksgiving is meant to be a joy-filled time to spend and reminisce with family & friends, not a stress-filled couple of days. This year, as a vegetarian, I’m in charge of bringing a veggie side dish. While I thoroughly enjoy making “healthy” food choices, the same does not really ring true for some family-members – can you relate? So I had to find a dish that was what I call “undercover healthy” and trick people (for the better) with a delicious and tasty dish that didn’t scream, “I was made by a health conscious vegetarian.”
On top of that, I don’t want to get involved much with the craziness going on in the kitchen, I vow to be in and out in 30 minutes to continue playing with my nephew on his First Thanksgiving!
This simple asparagus side dish adds some greens to an otherwise neutral table (white bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey), and is topped with cheese to throw off even the health-food-averse guest. The feta cheese used in the Roasted Garlic & Red Pepper Asparagus recipe is lower in calories than many other types of cheese. Plus it has a strong flavor, so you can use much less than other types. Asparagus is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and has been linked to help slow the aging process (BONUS)! Without further ado, here is the Thanksgiving friendly side dish!
Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Asparagus
Ingredients (Serves 4-6):
2 bunches (about 40) asparagus spears
½ cup EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lemon (for hand squeezed juice)
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Over low heat, add EVOO, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, red pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Cook until garlic becomes golden and fragrant (about 7 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool.
- Chop the white ends off each asparagus and discard. Arrange tops in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with cooled garlic and red pepper sauce.
- Season with sea salt and pepper and sprinkle crumbled feta cheese over asparagus.
- Bake in oven for 12 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and sprinkle with parsley and top with lemon juice.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
Sharing food has always been part of the human story. Something about sitting around the dinner table brings us closer together. So celebrate the role food plays in our lives and think about what makes you grateful.
If you’re looking for other Thanksgiving friendly recipes, check these out:
Wishing you a Happy (& Healthy) Thanksgiving!
Shannon + Meg
It’s just the start of the holiday season, but if you’re looking for a way to STAY on track (and maybe even start your new year resolution early) check out Beautiful University, a Whole Food Love program which starts you on your journey towards a whole food lifestyle. See what participants are saying! Registration is open through November 30, so reserve your spot today!