I cannot believe that next week is Thanksgiving. How?! When?! Can someone please explain this to me?! My new cookbook, The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, was released at the end of last month and I've been busy book-touring and yoga instructing, so things have been absolutely flying by around here! Before we know it, it's going to be CHRISTMAS. But not so fast - for now, we've still got a Thanksgiving dinner to plan for, and I've got you covered. I've rounded up 33 of my best, Thanksgiving-worthy dishes that're totally vegan and good enough to impress your (or my) cranky grandma. Dishes like my Cranberry Apple Walnut Stuffing, Garam Masala Roasted Acorn Squash, and Purple Sweet Potato Pie Bars are sure to please everyone at your table this year!
I'm thankful for everyone that's on this journey with me: whether you're here because you're vegan, trying to eat a little healthier, or just stumbled across the page this morning - I'm happy you're here. Now, get your stretchy jeans ready and let's get cookin'!
SWEETS + TREATS
Our Wedding Video!
We never planned on having a wedding video made. When we hired our photographer we were on a budget, and video just didn't make sense financially. I didn't think that it mattered to me until the day of the wedding, when all of a sudden I realized I really wanted some kind of video documentation that I could look back on and relive; there's just something about a video that evokes a million more feelings than a photograph could. To my surprise and sincere joy, Alex's brother Spencer had arranged for one of his closest friends, Ryan Todd, to come film our big day. We've known Ryan for years through hockey, so it was amazing to see him there and realize he'd be filming for us. And he killed it! Ryan and our photographer, Natalie, bonded and kind of hung together, catching shots and footage together all day. I couldn't be more thankful! It was the best wedding gift we received, and has made me cry every time I've watched it since. I love seeing all these people we love so much in one place. It was my favorite day ever!
I so hope you guys enjoy re-living a bit of our big day! Special thanks to Ryan Todd for filming and editing the video, to Spencer Owens for making it happen and for generally being the best brother (in law!). Check out both of their sites to see more of their creative work - they both rock. And enjoy the video! ❤️
OUR PLANT-BASED WEDDING: THE DETAILS
If you missed our first post, Planning Our Plant-Based Wedding, go back and start there! I cover booking a venue, picking a theme and colors, choosing a photographer, deciding on food and drinks (including our highly coveted cannabis-infused wedding cake), our FULL playlist, finding a dress and shoes (and the groom's outfit!), and a little sage advice from this happily married gal. There's a ton of great info there if you're planning your wedding - especially if you're looking to keep it plant-based and under $10k! Here I'll break down some of our smaller (but JUST as awesome vendors) and share way more of our gorgeous photos from Like morning Sun Photography. And next week - I'm sharing our WEDDING VIDEO! It'll be like you were there. Except I didn't save you any cake...sorry guys.
We chose to get ready as close (and cheaply) as possible to the venue, so I got ready with my Mom, sister, a few friends, and my hair stylist, Kady, at our small house in Downtown Fullerton. Alex headed a few miles toward the venue to our friend Marce's place to get ready with the boys. All of our outfit info is on the last wedding post, but here is a close-up of Alex's rad Insecta shoes, my gorgeous flower crown and matching bouquet from The Crown Collective, and a sneak peek pf Alex tying his bowtie on the big day. Beneath, a snap of our vow books (I got them on Etsy here) and our matching rings from PointNoPoint Studio - I'm obsessed with their custom, unique designs! The vow books were the most helpful and looked SO much cuter than notebook paper up there at the altar!
Alex's mom helped us hugely with her design skills and essentially created all of the tablescapes and arranged decor for us. She made the space look SO incredibly beautiful - with lots of help from our other friends and family, too! She used a lot of fresh produce and greens cut right from her own backyard. We didn't have a ton of flowers on site, but enough to make the space look beautiful without spending too much money. We found that baby's breath was the perfect accent floral and was really cheap - like 10 HUGE bunches for $100 at our local florist. Jen, Alex's Mom, also used lots of lace and natural color fabrics to accentuate the greenery and our hanging macrame at the altar. Air plants and antique blue glass ball jars studded all the tables. It was gorgeous! I couldn't have designed it better myself. Our altar space stayed empty until the ceremony was over, when we moved our couples table there for the duration of the party, which gave us a great separate place to eat and connect throughout the ceremony. We had gorgeous, hand-lettered signs made by Katie of DottieSoul - everything from our entry sign to our Photo Booth signage, plus a few flavor signs for the donut bar and of course, our instagram hashtag sign! (#mainecalifornia ✨)
In the picture above, Alex and I are literally RUNNING to get food as soon as it was announced to the wedding that it was ready. Traditionally the bride and groom eat last - NOT US! We beat everyone there for first dibs on everything. We love food, and we really love Falasophy - and we wanted to be well fed. Haha. One of my favorite pictures, for sure.
If you're curious about our gorgeous, cannabis-infused wedding cake, you can check our last post for the details. It was AMAZING! One of my favorite parts of our wedding were the giant jenga sets and corn hole game we had. Th giant jenga sets we knew were coming but the corn hole was a hand-made gift from our woodworking friend Eric Gianetti at EricBuilt. Alex's brother Spencer customized them for us with some hand-lettered 'A Team' designs. So cool, and we'll have them for life. One of our favorite wedding gifts! And jenga was a HIT - we've played a bunch now that we have the sets in our backyard, too!
I'm just so in love with all of the photos our photographer, Natalie, took! She is queen of the candids. There are so many great photos of us and our guests. And I find new favorites everytime I scroll through them! She makes our venue, The Riverbed Farm, look even more magical than it did on the big day - and it looked pretty darn amazing. I so hope you guys have enjoyed this little wedding photo share!
The last few photos are the wrapping up of the wedding; a shot of us singing our marriage license with our marriage officiant and my best friend, Devin, on the right and our witness and the person who introduced us, Ingmar, on the left. One of my favorite shots and something I didn't necessarily think would get photographed - but I'm glad it did!
Next, some of our guests - mostly Alex's 'hockey boys' hanging out as the sun set, and some of the early photos from our bumping' reception dance party. Such a blast! The wedding ended before we were ready (isn't that ways the way?!) so we grabbed a bunch of friends and headed to downtown Fullerton to hit the bars with our friends. We ended up at HopScotch, a whiskey bar, until closing time. The after party was just as fun as the wedding - and the perfect way to keep the party going for a few more hours! Plus, we didn't pay for a single drink - perks of being the bride and groom! 😝
What an amazing day! It was the wedding of my dreams, and it stayed within my budget. The sparkler exit may have been my favorite part. In the end, I walked away having married my very best friend! I'm going to call that a win-win-win. Feeling pretty lucky over here that I get to spend my life with such a rad dude. If you missed the planning stages, you can read up on Planning Our Plant-Based Wedding here! My biggest takeaway: just enjoy it. It flies by, and you'll always wish you had more time. Enjoy what you get and cherish those memories!
Summer Vacation in Maine!
I grew up in Maine, so anytime I get to head back for a vacation- especially when it's not winter- is a welcome retreat. This summer Alex and I were able to both take off from our real lives for a week to head east and hang with some of my family. Normally around this time of year, my whole family- aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family and friends- would all go camping at a place (peninsula) called Hermit Island. Its a magical place that I grew to really love and cherish spending summers there every year. I love going back, but these days it seems like we've all grown up and moved away and it can be hard to get everyone together for a whole week of just enjoying each others company. So instead, this year, Alex + I joined my Dad and sister Jade, plus my Dad's partner and her daughter as we planed to hike to the top of Mt. Katahdin, Maine's tallest mountain, and then raft our way through class 5 rapids in the Penobscot River. We hopped on a plane at LAX (Miley style) and spent 5ish hours traversing the country before waking up at about 4 am in the Boston Airport, where my Dad was waiting to pick us up. First stop on the way home? A bright and early check in at LL Bean for some quality hiking boots and then to Mister (Mr?) Bagel to get double toasted onion bagels with veggie tofutti cream cheese (at least that's what I ordered). It was humid AF outside, but it was good to be back!
We got home and napped, then woke up to do a bit of foraging on Dad's property. We found at least 6 different crab apple trees, plus ripe raspberry bushes and early season blueberries to munch, and we collected some for later. It also just so happens to be peak strawberry season in Maine, so we stopped by our favorite local and SUPER vegan-friendly farm + cafe Sheepscot General to pick as many pints of organic strawberries as we could hold. That night we made dinner for the family, which included a big green salad with lots of goodies from the garden and our foraging adventure, a whole roasted cauliflower like this one, some chickpea salad with rye bread and a strawberry raspberry crisp made from the fruit we'd collected ourselves. It was so good + we were so happy to cook a healthy, protein-packed vegan meal that everyone could enjoy.
The next day we spent driving north and setting up camp and eating bagels at my FAVORITE ever bagel joint in Maine, Bagel Mainea, where I coincidentally worked in high school - so maybe I'm biased?- but almost every bagel is vegan and they offer 5 vegan-friendly spreads as well customizable vegan sandwiches and even house-made granola and bagel chips! I always get the veggie garlic, double toasted, with plenty of veggie tofutti cream cheese and sliced down the middle for my eating enjoyment. If you're in Augusta, it is way worth the visit.
The next morning we were up and out of camp by 5:30 to drive to the trailhead and get our permits checked in. Below is a picture of my sister Jade, me, and my Dad at the beginning of the hike, probably about a mile in. (Note the rad fanny back if you will!) I have a super weak stomach in the morning and rarely eat before 10 am, plus being up so early hadn't allowed me my normal morning *ahem* ritual, so at about this point I was slowly dying inside. I felt SUPER nauseous and dizzy, and also like I was going to crap my pants while hiking uphill in front of my boyfriend so yeah, it was getting bad. It was about 3 miles to the first stop with outhouses on the trail, Chimney Pond, and somehow I managed to make it there without throwing myself off the mountain itself, although I did manage to get stung by a bee while attempting to sit down and rest on the way up. It wasn't a great start. But after a visit to the ladies room at Chimney Pond, a lot of trail-side dry heaving and half of a chickpea salad sandwich, I was feeling ready to push on and conquer Katahdin. (2 pics down is Chimney Pond in all of its shorts-saving glory.)
When we left Chimney Pond, we were about 4 or 5 miles from the top and the weather was getting worse and worse. We had worn shorts and brought light rain jackets, but overall we were seriously underdressed for the ascent. Alex and I ended up getting quite a bit ahead of the rest of our group as we neared the top, and the higher we climbed the steeper it got. We kept hearing about rock scrambles but it felt like the whole top half of the mountain itself was one giant rock climbing expedition. Your arms felt like they were working just as hard as your legs, and it was getting colder and harder to bend your fingers and toes all the time, but we pushed on. We look happy even!
In the picture above right we're about 1/2 mile from the summit peak at the top of the mountain, and pretty much where we ended our hike. We had originally planed to hike Knife's Edge up to the top but the wind conditions were so strong at Chimney Pond they advised against it. When we reached the tablelands, about 1 mile from the tippy-top, the hail began. First it was a light rain, then harder and harder until actual hail was hitting us all over and the temps had dropped to about 30 degrees. Oh, and there were 50 MPH winds, so we were getting sucked around and hiking behind large boulders to stop and catch our breath. It was a really crazy expercience being up there, and even though some people chose to keep going- and I applaud them- I just could.t My fingers were frozen and I had a little mental breakdown cry feeling so guilty about turing back just before we snapped the above right picture. Luckily, Alex was (always is) amazing and coached me through it, reminding me that no one really cared if we summited but us - and that in his opinion we had gone far enough. That was enough for me! We started our descent back down the tablelands and met up with my Dad, sister, and the rest of our group just before we begin our final descent. A few of them decided to keep going, and did summit (you go guys!), but the rest of us took our frozen buns back down the mountain. We stopped and chatted a bit when we got back to the Chimney Pond station, and we continued down the trail a major thunderstorm rolled in. The lightning was close and we were soaked, but at least my feet stayed dry until the last mile or so. At that point there was a veritable river running down the trails and we were just splashing our way down, trying not to lose footing or each other in the dense rain. When we finally got to the bottom we had hiked a total of 14 miles over 9 hours, in some of the worst conditions I have ever voluntarily placed myself in. We were soaked, but we were happy to be heading back to camp, where we made a big pot of black pean pasta with garlicky tomato sauce and toasted bread. It doesn't look like much, but it was the perfect post-hike hot meal.
The next day we spent rafting down the Penobscot River, where Alex, my Dad, his partner, and the raft guide all got tossed out in a Class V rapid and I had to steer the boat to safety. NO JOKE PEOPLE. I have video evidence, if I can figure out how to single out that part and upload here. I'll work on that. Anyway, it was incredible and I wish we had more pictures but the whole losing-your-iphone-in-the-river thing was something none of us was willing to risk, so we have to pictures to prove it.
After that, we spent a day at Hermit Island, walking around a getting a small piece of what we used to go there for every year. We hiked around the island, collecting seashells and taking in as much fresh sea air as we could. Afterwards we want to the best pizza joint in coastal Maine, The Cabin. Its a great wood-built cabin (literally) that houses some of the worlds best pizza crust and lives right next door to Bath Iron Works, Maine's largest ship builder. It gets pretty busy when those guys are out for lunch around 12-1 pm, but any other time its worth stopping in for a veggie topped pizza for two.
We visited our favorite hidden gem farmstore next door, admiring the produce and hanging with the chickens they keep in the back pasture. Th next day we went paddle boarding in the Damariscotta River while my Dad and sister kayaked, and afterwards enjoyed lunch at The Newcastle Publick House, where we got to try their new vegan menu item - inspired by our cauliflower nuggets recipe! They tasted great and it was awesome to see a small restaurant like that offering something for all their customers. Also, their hand-cut french fries were AMAZING. And isn't my boyfriend just the most handsome? I sure think so.
On our last night, we played trivia at the Liberal Cup in Hallowell, and Alex and I each ordered one of their hand-made, bean + veggie based burgers with grilled onions and a side of hand-cut fries. I also worked here in high school and was always a fan of the fries. In fact, I used to be the one that CUT them all! I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore, but I love coming back for trivia night and its always great to run into old friends while we're there. We didn't win at trivia (but we didn't lose either!), and afterwards we headed home for an early bedtime so we could get our butts up in time for our flight the next day. Lucky for us, our favorite little donut shop, The Holy Donut, in Portland is open early and let us reserve and order of a dozen vegan potato donuts to scoop up on our way by. About 7 made it all the way back to California, and the rest were gone the next day. You can read our full review on The Holy Donut here. We love hanging in Maine and can't wait to go back. I'll be there for a quick visit in September again, and will definitely be getting another dozen donuts to bring back. Have you been to Maine? Where are some of your favorite places?
A little bit of Thanksgiving...
Since you and I didn't get to spend the holiday together, I figured you might enjoy seeing what some of ours entailed.
We ate first with our roommates and their families at our place, then headed to second dinner at my Dad's house.
There we played a rousing 6-round, 30-ish question trivia game where I was the sassy moderator and everyone was trying to cheat.
There were lots of family members, friends, neighbors, and puppies hanging out and showin' each other some love.
And, you may recognize those two little ladies above from their YouTube debut. They were awesome, as always.
My lovely Aunts and little (though way taller) sister even indulged me at picture time. But aren't they great looking?
It was my almost step-sisters birthday, and we celebrated with warm cider & rum.
I made a tripe-layered fudgy chocolate cake with peanut butter ganache frosting and pecans.
It was a hit! And it was finished by the end of the evening.
And I think Cecily liked it, too...even though we forgot to buy birthday candles.
It was a great holiday, and I'm stuck between the freakish amount of mashed potatoes I ate and the trivia game being my favorite parts. I hope yours was great too! What was the best dish on the table at your place?
A Thanksgiving DIY: Clove-Spiked Apples