Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Very Happy and Humane Thanksgiving Holiday!

Thanksgiving Dinner: Marinated Mushrooms, Mashed Root Vegetables, Stuffing, Cranberry, and Brussels Sprouts. Recipes are by Sarma Melngailis and found in her new book, Living Raw Food.

Ever since I purchased Sarma’s new recipe book this past summer, I could not wait to try her full Thanksgiving dinner when the holiday season finally rolled around. So I decided to make her amazing holiday meal this past Saturday and share it with our friends, Mark and Sabrina :-)

Joyce’s Notes: WOW, this is possibly one of the best raw food dinners I have made so far!!!!! Everyone absolutely loved this raw vegan Thanksgiving dinner! Sarma and her talented chefs are amazing for creating these most delicious recipes that go perfectly together! Raw vegan Thanksgiving food is a tricky challenge but Sarma has cracked the code on this one! Even my most awesome husband, Scott loved this dinner. And he’s very picky with raw vegan entrees. I think this was his favorite raw food dinner so far as well. Sabrina loved the textures and I would have to agree. Everything was just delightful together. Both Mark and Scott had second helpings which was great! :-)

The recipes are made to serve 10 to 12 people. I made about 1/3 of the mushrooms but wished I had done about 1/2 or even a bit more. I did half of the mashed root veggies and half of the stuffing. This made a lot for both recipes. I still have a lot of mashed veggies and stuffing leftover (both taste great the next day!). I wished I had made more of the Brussels sprouts but luckily had enough for the dinner. I only bought about several handfuls but next time I would double that amount.

The marinated mushrooms were absolutely amazing! I dehydrated them covered in the marinade for about an hour. Previous to that, I let them sit out and marinate for a good half of the day. This  gave them that perfect ‘roasted’ texture. I am becoming a raw mushroom fan thanks to the world of raw vegan food! These mushrooms were Scott’s favorite part of the meal and he finished up the few leftovers on Saturday night. Too bad I didn’t make a bigger batch! Both the portobellos and the king oyster mushrooms were so tasty in the marinade which was so wonderful with the fresh rosemary, sage and thyme. I’m so happy to have found a great raw food recipe that Scott wants me to make again. These would be great for his lunches during the work week. He said he’d love to have the mushrooms and the Brussels sprouts together again. And those were the two easiest recipes of the whole meal :-)

For the Brussel sprouts, I used macadamia nut oil in lieu of the pistachio oil simply because I can’t find it anywhere here in Vermont! But the macadamia nut oil was brilliant with the maple syrup and olive oil. We all loved these! I think these were the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever had. I didn’t have time to marinate them for the 30 minutes but did place them in the dehydrator for about 30-45 mins to soften. Who knew Brussels sprouts could be so classy and delicious!

For the stuffing and mashed root veggies, I followed the recipes to the T except that I only made half of the recipe amounts. This still made a bit too much but we’re enjoying the leftovers. Both recipes call for a bit of truffle oil which was just lovely. I highly recommend using the best quality truffle oil you can find.

The cranberries also turned out amazing! Even Scott liked them and he is not a fan of these tart berries. Sarma’s recipe is brilliant and uses Irish moss which I love to use in raw food recipes (desserts).  I made her recipe 1 1/2 times and this was perfect! I weighed 12 ounces of cranberries on my scale. I also used a bit more Irish moss since I have a good feel for using it. I started with .80 ounces of Irish moss (measurement after being soaked) and then added about .20 more. I also added a bit more agave, lemon juice and orange zest. And a couple small strips of lemon zest were added. The consistency was just perfect. It gelled up so nicely! I couldn’t have been more pleased with it!

Thank you Sarma for creating these wonderful raw vegan Thanksgiving recipes!!!

It turns out that if you live in NYC you could have ordered this meal as take-out from Sarma’s Store, One Lucky Duck. CLICK HERE to see their photo and details. Wow and they did dessert too!

And lastly I want to thank Angela from the Happy Raw Kitchen for posting her photos and experience from making Sarma’s wonderful holiday dinner. She shares some great photos and recipe tips so do check out her blog. It’s always one of my favorites :-)


And for a lovely holiday dessert:

Chocolate Chai Spiced Cheesecake with a Chocolate Cookie Crust! Inspired by Sweet Gratitude.

I love the flavors of chai and chocolate together and decided to make a raw vegan cheesecake based on a recipe in Sweet Gratitude.  I made my own crust as I normally do. For the filling I only made half the quantity called for in the book and changed a few things to suite my tastes.

Here’s my modified recipe:

use a 7 inch spring form pan (or double recipe and use a 9 inch)

Chocolate Cookie Crust

  • one cup of unsoaked almonds
  • 4 med-large fresh dates
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cacao nibs

Process the almonds until they become crumbs in the food processor. Then add the dates, vanilla and agave and process until mixed. Then add the cacao and process again. Finally add the cacao nibs and process just a few seconds. Don’t over process. Press mixture into spring form pan and set in the freezer while making the filling. Try not to eat it all from the food processor :-)


  • 1 1/2 cups of cashew pieces, soaked for about 3-4 hours
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup of sweetened almond milk (with agave)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of strong chai tea*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (slightly heaping) of extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 (or 2/3) tablespoons of soy lecithin, ground fine in the coffee grinder
  • 1 tablespoon of cacao powder

Blend all the above ingredients except the last 3 ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust spices if necessary. Then add the melted coconut oil and lecithin and blend until well incorporated. Pour about 60% of the filling into the spring form pan. Also set aside a bit for the top swirl. Then add the cacao powder to the remaining filling and blend until well mixed. Pour this on top of the chai spiced filling. Next add the little bit of extra filling on top of the chocolate layer and swirl with a knife or chopstick. Set in the freezer for several hours until frozen solid. Then remove sides of pan and place in the fridge.

* I used 2 pouches of Zhena’s Gypsy King Chai tea in a bit less than 8 ounces of hot boiling water. Let steep for at least 15-20 minutes

One note: although I believe that I used vanilla extract in the filling, I didn’t write it down that day. So I’m not 100% sure I put the vanilla in the filling even though I had planned to do so. I might wait until the very end before adding it when I make this again.


Joyce’s Notes: This was soooooo good! This is one of my new favorite raw vegan desserts that I’m so excited about! Everyone including Scott, Mark and Sabrina loved this one! And it’s perfect for the holidays!

The chocolate cookie crust was super! And both Scott and I are both picky with raw crusts. Scott raved about this crust! We loved the cacao nibs which made it a bit crunchy. I prefer adding less dates and adding agave syrup to crust recipes. I think they taste much nicer that way.

The filling was amazing! The flavorings and spices were spot on! I loved the chai, spices and chocolate all together. What a lovely combination! I’m so pleased with this one! And you could make variations from this cake: A chai spiced cake without the chocolate or a cake with all chocolate (which has the chai and spices mixed in). I’m so glad we got to share this wonderful dessert with our friends. I’ll definitely make this one again!


On Thanksgiving Day, Scott and I did a hike up the 150 year old  Mt Mansfield Toll Road which was a lot of fun. “The 4.5-mile unpaved road begins next to the Inn at the Mountain and climbs to an elevation of 3,850 feet. The road ends at a parking lot next to the Mt. Mansfield Summit Station with stunning views”. This time of year it’s closed to traffic so it was a great option for being in the outdoors. It’s a beautiful hike! We were hoping to ski during the holiday weekend, but our November has been too warm for snow.

Here are a few photos with some nice views of Stowe:

Gotta love the double black diamond trails!

Looking out towards Smugglers Notch (where we ski)

Some attempts at making snow on Spruce Peak (Stowe)

Top of Spruce Peak

And lastly, this is a huge flock of geese! We both felt this was the best part of our hike that day. A truly magnificent site!

Hope Everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend! Thanks for visiting my blog!



  1. Hi Joyce! Your dinner looks awesome! The table is so beautiful:)

    The cheesecake sounds wonderful and is so pretty, love chai spices.

    Love the pics of Vermont and the geese. They are so amazing to watch as they fly, and it's so funny that you can hear them all 'honking':)

    Thank you so much for the shout-out! {{HUGS}}

  2. What a lovely post! I love how you plated it just like we did in the book photo!!
    Thank you! Hope some time you can join us at the restaurant for Thanksgiving... :-) :-) cheers!!! Sarma

  3. isn't the chai cheesecake amazing? my husband wants me to make another one ASAP. :-)

  4. Oh my goodness. What an absolutely beautiful thanksgiving spread! You make eating healthy so appealing.

  5. Thanks everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

    Joyce :-)

  6. I am always impressed by your amazing raw foods. Gorgeous. Great outdoor photos, too!

  7. Hi Deb, glad you like the food and photos:-)

    Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!


  8. Hello
    I like chocolate very much and you have given delicious recipe of chocolate cookie crust.Thank you very much for this tasty recipe.I will make it in holidays.Thank you and Happy holidays..

    chinese herbs


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