Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving Thanks Recipes: Salads and Vegetables

What do you have to be thankful for? Family, friends, a warm house, a cozy fire, delicious food. There is so much to be grateful for, just stop and think about it for a minute.

This morning I slept in until 10am! Now that is something to be grateful for. The babies woke up an awful lot last night leaving me quite sleep deprived early this morning. Tom took all the kids downstairs and with the shades wide open and sun shining in I slept for an extra 2 1/2 hours!

After I finally awoke, I started down the stairs to join everyone who sounded to all be quite happy. I stopped midway to see the girls running back and forth in the hall squealing and giggling with delight. The babies were imitating them by crawling back and forth as fast as they could giggling as they went. It was quite a sight to see. I stood quiet for a while to get an uninterrupted glimpse. In that moment I felt grateful to see all of my children so happy and healthy playing together in the morning sunlight.

Thanksgiving, food, family, friends. How about sharing food that is gluten-free? We can all feel grateful about that. Grateful that our loved ones with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity can eat without becoming sick. Grateful that we can share food that is nourishing to all of us. Grateful for being healthy and alive.

This Thanksgiving Season I wanted to share with you a series of gluten-free recipes to bring to your upcoming feast. Please stay tuned in the days to come for more recipes, including a Wild Rice Stuffing, Pumpkin Spice Cake, and more!

The following salad recipe is something I created a few years ago. My friend Kathy invited me over to her house one day to watch how I prepared a meal with what was available. She was hungry to learn my kitchen wisdom and I was happy to share a meal with friends. She had bought a beautiful piece of salmon from Vis Seafoods and wanted to watch how I prepared it. That is where the Wild Salmon with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme was born (recipe in the cookbook). I checked out her refrigerator and pantry to see what she had available. I pulled out the fresh cranberries, shallots, oranges, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar and slowly a cranberry salad dressing evolved. We also cooked a pot of quinoa, steamed some broccoli, and toasted some nuts for the salad. Below is the salad we created that day. Please note: for this Thanksgiving recipe we are using candied walnuts in place of the hazelnuts (recipe below). Enjoy!

Pear and Hazelnut Salad with Creamy Cranberry Dressing (from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)Serve this salad when cranberries, pears, and hazelnuts are in season in autumn. It is also delicious served at a festive holiday meal.
Serves 4 to 6

Salad:1 head red leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn into pieces
1 firm ripe pear, cored and sliced thin
½ small red onion, sliced into thin rounds
1 cup raw hazelnuts, roasted
½ cup crumbled organic feta cheese, optional
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon sea salt or Herbamare

Place all of the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the 2 teaspoons olive oil and sliced shallots. Sauté shallots for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft. Add fresh cranberries and continue to sauté until the cranberries are soft and have “popped.”
Place shallot and cranberry mixture into a blender with the orange juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, orange zest, and sea salt. Blend on high until creamy. Add a few tablespoons of water for a thinner consistency and blend again.

Drizzle dressing over salad and serve immediately. Extra dressing can be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Candied Walnuts

These nuts are a delicious addition to any holiday salad. Or try putting some into little jars and giving them as gifts!

2 cups walnut halves
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch or two of sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place all ingredients into a baking dish (I use a 7 x 11-inch glass baking dish). Stir well with a spoon. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn.

As soon as they come out of the oven stir them up so the syrup sticks to the nuts and not the pan. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool.

The other day I was thinking about yams and what else I could do with them to dress them up for the holidays. I usually roast them in the oven with olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary. But I wanted something different, something fresh, a new creation. Below is a delicious recipe that you can bring to your holiday gathering. Just make sure you put the dried cranberries in toward the end of baking time. I didn't do this the first time I made this and the cranberries burned quite a bit. Happy Cooking!

Maple Roasted Yams with Pecans and Dried Cranberries

This recipe will be a delicious addition to your next holiday feast. If you do not have a sensitivity to dairy then try replacing the olive oil for organic butter.

2 large yams, peeled and diced
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all ingredient except cranberries in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Toss with a large spoon.

Bake for 30 minutes. Add the cranberries, lightly stir. Bake for 15 minutes more.

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Ali,

    I have this salad on my menu for Thanksgiving again this year! We made it last year and it was adored by everyone. I used candied almonds instead of walnuts or hazelnuts; and chopped pink lady apples in place of the pears. Thank you!


  2. Ali,

    I just wanted to tell you that I made all three of these recipes for Thanksgiving this year and they were marvelous! Everyone really enjoyed the salad, especially the dressing (I bet it would be great drizzled on about anything). It's not often that the salad gets any attention at Thanksgiving, so thank you so much for that! They also loved the candied walnuts - they were eaten and enjoyed by all both before and after the meal. The maple roasted yams were such a treat. I ate them last on my plate and enjoyed every bite (and then got a little more).

    Thank you for writing this blog post and putting all of these recipes together. It can be stressful trying to find just the right sides for Thanksgiving and you took all the stress out of it. I am not much of a meat eater, so it was also great to see items other than the turkey get so much attention. :)

    For other readers who plan to make these - substituting walnuts for the hazelnuts on the salad works just fine (It looks like that was what was used in the picture above anyway so I figured it would work and it did). You can also put fresh cranberries in the maple roasted yams dish, just put them in after 20 minutes so they roast for a total of 25 minutes (again, I did this because I had them on hand and dried cranberries that aren't coated in white sugar are not easily found in grocery stores).

    Thank you so much Ali!

    (By the way, I have your Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook - which is really beat up since I use it so often - and I can't wait to get your latest book as well. Thank you to both you and your husband for taking the time to write these books and share your recipes and your knowledge about nutrition with the world.)


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)