Food, family, and dear friends

My annual holiday traditions are filled with the people and dishes I treasure most. The blustery weather that accompanies the fall harvest stimulates my appetite for nurturing, wholesome food. I enjoy serving my family platters of plant-based edibles that highlight holiday flavors and textures. Cooking with non-GMO fruits and vegetables—both fresh and in packaged products—is the key ingredient in my health-centered yet tasty holiday feasts.

No GMO Sugar Beets in my Sweets!

Holidays and sweets go hand in hand, but take care when choosing your sugar. 2005 brought the deregulation of GMO sugar beets that were engineered to be sprayed with glyphosate, a chemical herbicide that the World Health Organization recently classified as a probable carcinogen. Much of the white sugar you see in stores contains beet sugar. After growing up baking pies, cakes, and cookies with this sweetener, when it became GMO it was time to look for a new source of sweetness. Pure maple syrup and Non-GMO Project Verified honey have been go-to staples of mine for many desserts since, but sometimes I need a simple sweetener without an accompanying flavor. I now select sugars from Wholesome! to stock my pantry. As many of their products are Non-GMO Project Verified, I once again bake with confidence.

Whether I am serving apple crisp, pumpkin pie or a gingerbread cake, I adore making whipped cream as the topping. As many dairy products derive from cattle who were fed GMO corn, I began making whipped coconut cream. Native Forest produces Non-GMO Project Verified cans of coconut that are perfect for any dessert occasion. Although there aren’t any genetically engineered coconuts in commercial production, there are dozens of coconut products in stores that contain other high-risk ingredients that may be derived from GMO sources. To whip a can of coconut, chill the creamy milk in your refrigerator before blending it on high speed with a dash of vanilla and your favorite Non-GMO Project Verified sweetener.

Succulent Starches

An annual vegetable favorite of mine at the end of the harvest season is the delicata squash. The delicious yellow-orange flesh tantalizes my taste buds in most dishes, but my wife and I have an absolute favorite recipe. We enjoy keeping the skin on as it is thin, nutritious and becomes tender when cooked. After slicing the squash in half length-ways, scoop out the seeds, and then cut each half into quarter inch wide smiles. We put a tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s Non-GMO Project Verified Coconut Oil into a pot with the squash and stir it on medium heat for 10 minutes or until soft. Salt to taste. My family devours this all-in-one decadent dinner-dessert that can be prepared in minutes.

A nostalgic side dish that brings up fond memories for me is any variation on mashed potatoes. America’s potato fields are unfortunately changing as just this year, the new genetically engineered Innate potato was given the green light by the FDA. Search for Certified Organic produce when buying your spuds this holiday season and look for the Non-GMO Project Verified Butterfly seal on all packaged potato products. I like to boil these tubers whole to retain their moisture before tossing them with a little crushed garlic, rock salt, and a mixture of olive and coconut oil. Garnish with chopped parsley and a sprinkle of pepper.

Powerful Protein

Up until several years ago, I avoided eating soy foods as I have found them difficult to digest and over 94% of the soy beans grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered. As the Butterfly seal began showing up on more and more products, I started buying certain soy foods again. A dear friend then introduced me to tempeh, a cultured form of cooked soybeans that have had their enzyme inhibitors broken down by beneficial mold. The process unleashes the full spectrum of nutrition that is housed in this well-rounded bean. I now like to take a stuffing recipe and substitute small cubes of tempeh for the bread. Voila! A carbohydrate dish has been transformed into a power packed protein entree for any holiday meal.

As you grocery shop this season, have fun trying new harvest vegetables and products and look for the Butterfly to ensure your festive foods are Non-GMO Project Verified. Let’s feed our loved ones ingredients we trust. Bon Appétit!

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