This was the second Thanksgiving that my husband and I hosted for our family, and it has become one of my favorite traditions to kick-off the holiday season. We are very lucky to have such a supportive, accepting and loving family, and we take great pride in being related to such an inspiring group of people. That’s why we wanted to make Thanksgiving extra special for our family.We started the preparations by putting up our Christmas tree two nights before the holiday. Our nine-foot beauty filled the apartment with sparkling white lights and the scent of fresh pine - my absolute favorite this time of year. With festive touches put up throughout our home, the ambience was cozy and holiday-ready. Now came the fun part - creating a menu that offered something for everyone. This year I partnered with my go-to food store in Manhattan, Whole Foods, to ensure I bought the highest quality and freshest ingredients for the meal. Being pescatarian and dairy-free, I had the challenge of creating a spread that was appealing to both my husband and I and the rest of our family, but it was a challenge I gladly accepted.I won’t lie – because I am not a meat eater and don’t often cook it, I relied on Whole Foods for the turkey. I ordered a fully cooked, all-natural, twelve pound, grass-fed turkey from their catering department and simply had to pop it in the oven for two and a half hours before dinner and voila, a beautifully browned, crispy turkey was cooked. According to my family, it was perfectly moist and seasoned so I was relieved to know that the most iconic part of the meal came out delicious.For the non-meat eaters, I baked a miso probiotic-crusted salmon drizzled with a lemon marinade. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare this type of fish and quite easy (pre-heat oven to 450 degrees, pour lemon juice over the salmon, coat with garlic and miso spread and cook for 13 minutes). To accompany the meat and seafood dishes, I also made truffle macaroni and cheese (per request from my little brothers), a pomegranate, thyme, lemon and butternut squash quinoa, paleo pumpkin muffins, and a homemade artichoke dip. A roasted vegetable medley, truffle-whipped mashed potatoes and freshly seasoned stuffing rounded out the meal. As someone with a big Italian family, I always stress about not having enough food, but I am happy to report that there were tons of leftovers! I also ordered cupcakes from the bakery at Whole Foods (and they even had vegan options), and my family brought in delicious pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies for dessert.It was so special to have my family over for Thanksgiving and to take a moment from all of our busy lives to enjoy each other’s company in a city that is magical this time of year. At the end of the night, my dad looked at me and said, “I’m proud of you guys.” I couldn’t help but feel emotional, because here is a man who I have always looked up to throughout my whole life and no matter how old you may be as a child of a parent, it always feels good to have their approval and know that you are making them proud. Wishing you a very special holiday season full of memories that will last a lifetime.
* Get my Paleo Pumpkin Muffin Recipe (makes 12 muffins):
1 cup almond butter (store-bought or homemade)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 whole eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/3 cup cacao chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until a smooth batter is formed, folding in the chocolate chips last.
Distribute the batter evenly among the 12 baking cups. Bake for 17 minutes at 350F, until the centers are firm and starting to crack.