Thankful for Thanksgiving: Mr. Bermudez shares plant-based Thanksgiving recipes

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It’s that time of year again where we bond and celebrate with family and friends while reflecting on what we are most grateful for. Considering what we’ve all had to endure this past year and a half, Thanksgiving 2021 may have much more meaning for many of us as compared to previous years.  I lost my father on March 6, 2020, right before the world shut down due to COVID-19. In thinking back today, I continue to remain grateful for all the love and support I got from the Townsend Harris community by students, staff, and administration at a time when I was dealing with lots of emotions.  

I am also grateful for all my family and friends that have contracted COVID, survived it, and are continuing to do well. In addition to enjoying your favorite foods and time spent with loved ones, perhaps for the first time in a long time, taking the opportunity to reflect on what you are most grateful for despite this past year’s rip-roaring roller coaster ride would really do your soul some good.  Being in constant search of the bright spot or the silver lining is a good practice and I highly recommend you not only contemplate these things, but also share them with people you care about.  

A third thing I am grateful for is my health and my passion for helping others be more health conscious. Whether I’m teaching Physical Education in the gym, yoga in the auditorium, or covering a range of vital topics in my health classes, pointing people in the direction towards living healthier lives is a duty I feel called to do. To that end, I’ve included a few plant-based recipes in this article that can be included into this year’s feast to add some variety to your Thanksgiving meal and give a boost to its nutrient density. 

We all think of turkey as the traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, but the first Thanksgiving between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians (1621) didn’t even include turkey at all. This year, with food costs and supply shortages at an all-time high, it’s the perfect opportunity to part ways with the turkey and try some new plant-based Thanksgiving dishes. Maybe make it a goal for next year. Either way, if you’re having your turkey or swapping it out for a plant-based alternative like the Tofurkey that will be featured on our table this Thursday night, these easy-to-make side dishes will be a big hit and good for you too. Let me know how it comes out.  

 

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

 

  • 2 oz. (900g) pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, skin on
  • 3 cups (700ml) vegetable stock 
  • 1/2 cup (75g) raw cashew
  • 2 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil, divided
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder

Optional Toppings:

  • Toasted coconut flakes, coconut yogurt, fresh ground black pepper, chopped roasted cashews, fresh thyme., etc.

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 360F/180C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place the pumpkin and garlic cloves in, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil, then, with your hands, mix to coat.
  3. Roast in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a pot and saute the onions together with carrots and celery, for 3-4 minutes, until they soften. Add in the cashew and pumpkin, then squeeze in garlic from its skin.
  5. Pour the stock in and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  6. Add coconut milk, cumin and cinnamon powder, then stir to combine.
  7. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with your desired toppings. Enjoy!

 

Fudgy Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

 

  • 1 can (15oz / 425g) pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup (76g) cashew butter, or any nut butter of choice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. (7.5g) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (68g) gluten-free flour blend 
  • 3/4 cup (96g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. (7.5g) baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup (32g) dark chocolate chips (optional)

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 360°F/180°C and line an 8 inch/20cm square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Into a medium mixing bowl, sieve the flour and cocoa powder. Add in spices, salt, baking soda, and stir until well combined.
  3. In a second bowl, whisk pumpkin puree, cashew butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
  4. Add in the flour mixture, and stir until well incorporated and there are no lumps left. Scoop the pumpkin pie brownie batter into the prepared baking pan and level it with a silicone spatula, going all the way into the corners. Sprinkle with chocolate chips if desired.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the brownie comes out clean.
  6. Once the brownie is done, remove from the oven and allow it to cool, then refrigerate for 1 hour to fully set. This will make the vegan pumpkin brownie super fudgy.
  7. Remove from the refrigerator and cut into 9 squares.
  8. Store the brownie squares in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 7 days.

Art by Amy Jiang

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