Living the WELL Life

A Holiday Feast Menu

Saturday, December 21, 2013

These special times of the year give us a much-needed respite from our hectic daily lives and routines, creating a space for us to relax and rejoice.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of any celebration that doesn’t, in some way, revolve around food and nourishing each other.  This is one of my favorite holiday feasts! Sure, it’s some work but it’s a feast so have fun preparing and enjoying this lovely holiday menu!

Lusciously moist and delicately sweet, these biscuits will quickly become a tradition on your holiday table.


1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup semolina flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
generous pinch sea salt
generous pinch ground cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons Olivado avocado oil
1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 cup, smoothly mashed, cooked sweet potato
2 tablespoons Suzanne’s Specialties Maple Rice Nectar
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 375o and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flours, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and whisk briskly.  Cut in oil with a fork or pastry cutter to form the texture of wet sand.  Add the apple juice, sweet potato and rice syrup, mixing to form a soft dough.  Fold in pecans, working to incorporate them into the dough.  

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead in just enough flour so the dough loses its stickiness.  With floured hands, press the dough into a 2/3-inch thick rectangle.  Using a glass or cookie cutter, cut the dough into 16 biscuits, re-forming dough as needed to use it all.  (Note: when cutting the biscuits, do not turn the cutter, simply press straight down into the dough.  Turning will remove air from the biscuits, leaving them heavy SIDE BAR).  Arrange cut biscuits on lined sheet about an inch apart.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until the biscuits puff slightly and they spring back to the touch (or a toothpick inserted comes out clean).

Transfer to a serving plate and serve hot. 

Nothing accents the delicate sweetness of the biscuits, nor kicks off a great feast, quite like a creamy, rich, yummy soup.  And this one is just amazing…biscuits or not…feast or not.


extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
sea salt
2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, diced
6-8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup until tender, thinly sliced (soaking water reserved
10-12 ounces button mushrooms, brushed free of dirt, thinly sliced
¼ cup mirin or white wine
4 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
3 teaspoons sweet white miso
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a soup pot and turn heat to medium.  When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in potatoes, a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes more.  Stir in shiitake and button mushrooms, a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute more.  Add shiitake soaking water, mirin and milk, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook until mushrooms are quite tender, about 25 minutes.  Remove a small amount of hot broth and dissolve miso.  Stir back into soup and cook over very low heat, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes to activate the enzymes in the miso.  Serve garnished with fresh parsley. 

A more festive and elegant salad is not to be had.  Light and fresh, but rich enough to be decadent, this is a symphony of flavors and textures that makes any occasion just a bit more special.


extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thin half moon slices
sea salt
8-10 marinated  or frozen artichoke hearts, split in half lengthwise
1 red pepper, roasted over an open flame, peeled, seeded, sliced into thin ribbons

juice of 2 limes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar
2 teaspoons Suzanne’s Specialties Maple Rice Nectar
generous pinch black pepper

2 bunches watercress, stem tips trimmed, left whole
8-10 fresh figs, split lengthwise
2-3 fresh scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a skillet and turn heat to medium.  When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute.  Stir in artichoke hearts and red pepper ribbons and sauté just until heated through, about 2 minutes more.  

Prepare the dressing by whisking together lime juice, oil, ume vinegar and rice syrup, adjusting seasonings to taste.

To plate the dressing, arrange watercress on a platter, with figs around the rim.  Spoon sautéed artichoke heart mixture over the top and drizzle lightly with dressing, serving the balance of the dressing on the side for those who want to use more.  Sprinkle with scallions and serve immediately after dressing.
No sweet jelled sauces out of can for your loved ones…not when a fresh cranberry chutney is this easy to make.  And since you can prepare it the day before, everyone wins.


12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed well
1-2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, diced
grated zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange
½ cup unsweetened, dried apricots
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
3-4 tablespoons Suzanne’s Specialties Genmai Rice Nectar

Place all ingredients, except rice syrup, in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.  Remove cover and add rice syrup to taste.  Continue cooking over low heat, uncovered, until the barley malt thickens, about 10-12 minutes more.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before transferring to a jar.  Seal tightly and chill completely.  Before serving, bring chutney to room temperature. 

Ah, finally, the centerpiece dish of any holiday feast.  It seems that tradition dictates that something be “stuffed,” so some very clever vegetarians came up with the idea of baking the stuffing in a hearty, sweet winter squash.  Since then, many variations on the theme have emerged, each more delicious.  Here’s one of mine.

2 medium kabocha squash, tops removed jack-o-lantern style, seeds removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons barley malt
sea salt
¾ cup wild rice, rinsed very well
1 ½ cups spring or filtered water
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 red onion, finely diced
1-2 stalks celery, diced
8 ounces tempeh, coarsely crumbled
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup dry white wine
2-3 cups firmly packed, shredded whole grain, sourdough bread
1-2 cups fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 375o.

After hollowing squash, whisk together oil, barley malt and a pinch of salt.  Using your fingers, rub the mixture over the outsides and insides of the squash.  Place them in a baking dish, replacing the caps.  Add water to accumulate about one half-inch.  Cover with foil and bake until the squash pierces easily with a fork, but is still firm, about 45 minutes.  

While the squash bakes, make the stuffing.  Place wild rice and water in a heavy pot and bring to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender, about 35 minutes.  Set aside.

Place a small amount of oil, garlic, and onion in a skillet and turn heat to medium.  When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in celery and sauté for 1 minute.  Stir in tempeh and dried basil and sauté until tempeh begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add pine nuts, wine and season to taste with salt.  Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Remove cover and cook until all liquid has been absorbed.  

Place bread in a mixing bowl and add cooked rice, sautéed vegetables and tempeh.  Slowly add orange juice, mixing well until a soft stuffing forms.  Don’t make it too wet.  

Stuff each squash abundantly and replace in baking dish.  Lay caps in baking dish next to squash, not on top.  Cover with foil and bake until squash is quite tender, 35 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of the squash.  Remove from oven and allow squash to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a serving platter.  Makes 8-10 servings. 

COOK’S TIP:  Extra stuffing can be pressed into an oiled baking dish and cooked, covered for 35-40 minutes.  Remove cover and brown the top before serving.  

It seems that Thanksgiving tradition calls for sweetly glazed vegetables and these will never disappoint.


2 pounds Brussels sprouts, tips trimmed, crosses cut into the bottoms of each
2 red onions, thick wedges
2-3 sweet potatoes, split lengthwise, ½-inch thick half moons
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
sea salt
grated zest of 2 lemons
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Suzanne’s Specialties Maple Rice Nectar
juice of ½ lemon
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Preheat oven to 350o.

Place all the vegetables in a mixing bowl and add oil, a generous sprinkling of salt, lemon zest, wine and rice syrup.  Mix well to coat.  Arrange vegetables in a large baking dish, avoiding overlap.  Cover with foil and bake until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.  Remove cover and continue baking until vegetables are browned and liquid has turned to a syrup, 10-15 minutes more.  Remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice over top.  Sprinkle with parsley and toss gently to coat.  Serve hot.   

What’s a holiday feast without pumpkin pie?  Not the same, truly.  Give this one a try for a twist on a traditional favorite.


2 cups pureed pumpkin (cooked fresh or unsweetened canned pumpkin)
pinch sea salt
2 cups unsweetened organic almond or soy milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup Suzanne’s Specialties Maple Rice Nectar
3 tablespoons coconut sugar granules
generous pinch ground cinnamon
scant pinch allspice
3 tablespoons agar flakes
2 tablespoons kuzu or arrowroot, dissolved in small amount cold water

pie crust
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
pinch sea salt
¼ cup Olivado avocado oil
spring or filtered water

streusel topping
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
pinch sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons Olivado avocado oil
3-4 tablespoons Suzanne’s Specialties brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 350o and lightly oil a deep-dish glass pie plate.

Place all filling ingredients, except kuzu (or arrowroot), in a saucepan and place over low heat.  Cook, whisking frequently, until agar is dissolved, about 20 minutes.  When the agar is dissolved, whisk in kuzu mixture and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.  Set aside.

Make the crust by combining flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in oil with a fork or pastry cutter to create the texture of wet sand.  Slowly add water, mixing until dough gathers into a cohesive ball.  Roll out between 2 sheets of parchment, creating a thin round that is about an inch larger than the pie plate.  Transfer piecrust to pie plate and fit into crevices without stretching, allowing excess to hang over the edges.  Fold excess crust up over the rim and using your fingers, crimp into a decorative edge.  Pierce in several places with a fork and bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Spoon filling evenly into crust and set aside.

Make the streusel by combining flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a mixing bowl.  Fold in pecans, oil and rice syrup and mix until a crumbly mixture forms. Sprinkle generously over the pumpkin filling, covering completely.  

Place the pie on a baking sheet and cover loosely with foil.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for another 30-35 minutes, until the edges of the filling are set and the topping is browned and crunchy.  Transfer pie to a cooling rack and allow to stand for 15-30 minutes before slicing.

(Recipes courtesy of Christina’s e-book, Christina Pirello’s Wellness 1000…a great holiday gift)


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