My First Vegan AND Low-Sodium Thanksgiving!

This morning I awoke from a deep sleep at 5:30 am. Groggy, but not wanting to lose the thoughts tumbling round in my mind, I grabbed the notebook I’ve kept on my nightstand since March, when I started work on The Everything DASH Diet Cookbook. I quietly slid open my nightstand drawer and fumbled for a pen – which I found, and once I’d flipped the notebook to a seemingly empty page (it was pitch dark), began to scribble. This is what greeted me when I woke up an hour and a half later:

Chicken scratch – in Highlighter! I didn’t even know I owned a highlighter, but apparently I do, and for some unknown reason thought it best to stow it in the least logical and most unhelpful place in my home. I can sort of make out the word “vegan” about half way down the page; as for the rest, forget it. So please bear with me today.

I come to you a challenged woman. In many ways, the past several weeks have been a trial by fire and one week from today will be yet another double hurdle to conquer. You’ve likely noticed my conspicuous absence from the internet. This has been in no small part due to the change of seasons. As many of you know, my family and I live in Maine, where winter digs in and holds fast to the land. These long and very cold winters require preparation, and when you live in a pre-revolutionary home heated strictly by wood, these cold winters require quite a bit MORE. If you’ve been wondering where the heck I’ve been, let me introduce you to:

That’s right; I’ve been getting intimately familiar with 6 cords of firewood. In addition, I’ve spent 3 solid weekends canning – Apple Chutney, Applesauce, and Wild Blueberry Jam – and the better part of two weeks specifically holding on to walls, thanks to the weather. Packed in and around all of this like styrofoam peanuts in a shipping box has been my daughters’ new tween and teen school, sporting, and social schedules, our second DIY chimney lining, and – along with all of the routine chores of life – a daily dose of 2+ hours of hand-washing dishes thanks to our (formerly working, now dead and making me want to puke) 2 year old Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher. To be honest, this year’s Thanksgiving holiday has only just appeared on my radar.

SO. In one week exactly, my family and I will be celebrating our very first Thanksgiving as…

SALT FREE VEGANS! Quite a mouthful, wouldn’t you say? As we all well know, living low sodium ain’t for sissies, but throw in the double complexity of veganism and it’s enough to make even the staunchest plant-eater blanch. Last weekend, I put together a list of recipes I thought would do the trick. My husband, thank God, is never an issue; my daughters are the challenge. The older one has embraced veganism – or at least vegetarianism, with gusto; the younger one is an active rebel who declares her love for meat at every opportunity. Knowing the significance of the holiday formerly known as TURKEY DAY, I knew I’d have to win the little one over big time. I did this simply, by buying her off with a sweet potato casserole topped with (oooh la la!) VEGAN MARSHMALLOWS! I’ve never met Sweet & Sara, but I can say I officially love them.

And thus, after gaining support, I proceeded onto side dishes – now known as platefuls. Green beans, check. Not just garlic mashed potatoes, but roasted ones too. Sweet and Savory Kale. Pesto Rice with Portabello Mushrooms. Brussels Sprouts. Homemade Rolls and Cornbread. PUMPKIN PIE. All approved. And since I won’t be cooking a turkey this year, I thought it might be nice to do something sort of “bigger” than just plain “sides.” I mentioned sauteed portabella mushroom caps. A “buttery” vegan quiche with leeks. Phyllo baked tarts filled with roasted vegetables. Well. You’d think I was trying to poison these kids by their PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! responses! SHEESH. (My husband, on the other hand, was drooling all over the floor.)

SO.. that’s where I am right now. T-minus 6 days. I’ve got two pages of highlighter chicken scrawl and a tentative menu. Wish me luck.

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6 Responses to My First Vegan AND Low-Sodium Thanksgiving!

  1. Carmie says:

    Good luck from all of us Heislers! Thanks for making me smile with the highlighter story! Wow!

  2. Ragnhild says:

    Congratulations on the publication of your new book. You and all your family must feel very proud and also relieved that the work is now off your hands. I greatly enjoyed your Vegan Thanksgiving qualms; you can’t cook a whole turkey for your youngest daughter, but you might get her a thigh or such! Here in England we don’t do thanksgiving but have a turkey feast at Christmas. I’m already agonising over it – it used to be easy when everybody ate meat and once you had cooked a mammoth Christmas dinner you didn’t have to cook again for a couple of days. Now it has got complicated; middle son and 3 grandchildren only turn up on boxing day – so that is the day for the turkey and trimmings – but 2 grandsons are vegetarian so I also have to provide an vegetarian option. And on Christmas day we will have friends of our generation here, the wife does not eat any form of bird!
    Wish me luck, all the food will be low sodium as I wish to have all options open to myself. There will no doubt be contributions from you. Happy cooking, I look forward to reading about your thanksgiving feast.

    • Christy says:

      Thanks so much, Ragnhild!! We had an amazing Turkey-less Turkey Day and were so pleased with the food. It’s some seriously high praise to have your meat-loving child tell you the meatless meal was her best feast yet! I will be posting a recipe for the Hickory Smoked Vegan Turkey I made, which may be just what you need for your Christmas (Boxing Day) big meal. It’s not meat, but the texture, heft, and flavors are all there, especially when served alongside other traditional favorites. Wishing you the very best of luck – and hoping I can be of help as we move toward the next big holiday meal. Have a great day! Christy

  3. Hahaha… I’m familiar with the late-night idea book scribble myself, Dishy! I have to say… yours looks much more easily translatable than mind ever does!
    Quite the impressive stash-o-firewood, too! Looks familiar (my parents have them stacked all over the place back in ND). It’s a good thing my dad always kind of enjoyed chopping the stuff, though… because with my coordination I’m pretty sure I’d have lost a hand or two in a freak splitting accident.

    • Christy says:

      UUUgh… please please keep your hands away from the axe, Inky. The world would be a far uglier place without your artistic skills!

      Yes the firewood and I are buddies. I am thankful I only need to haul. I keep my chopping duties strictly to the kitchen! LOL

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