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At the Pharmer Table

By Culinary Directors and Chefs Lee and Darleen Gross

As chefs, inspiration comes directly from the landscape of the season. Autumn inspires with vivid colors, leaves and pine needles carpeting yards and rooftops, and earthy aromas punctuating the crisp morning air. We are drawn to the farmer’s market to revel in the bounty of fresh vegetables local growers pull from the healthy, organic soils just a short drive from our kitchen door.

Raw, roasted, pickled, sautéed - We love working with veggies in every way imaginable. With each season the variety and cooking styles may change, but our desire to nourish our family with the best food available remains constant. Autumn is when we focus on heartier produce, such as hard winter squashes, roots and bulbs. Our study of macrobiotics (a more esoteric precursor to the modern-day science of functional medicine) has taught us that the naturally sweet flavors of these foods are especially helpful for nourishing and supporting our digestive system. In the kitchen we apply slow, gentle heat to coax as much sweetness out of these veggies as possible, rendering them even more satisfying and delicious.

 With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, our thoughts are turning to rich flavors and comforting indulgence, and we’re looking forward to gathering with friends and loved ones to share our table, set with cherished family recipes. And while we can’t wait for the feasting to begin, we’re still careful to plan a menu that has a good balance of foods. Traditional thanksgiving dishes are notoriously heavy and dense, and full of empty calories (we’re looking at you mashed potatoes). So, how do you bring balance to the feast?

First, think about color and variety. The most colorful vegetables are also the most nutritious: dark, leafy greens, bright orange carrots and ruby red beets, for example. Aiming for the full color spectrum in your vegetable selections will not only guarantee a generous serving of plant nutrition for you and your guests, it will ensure that your providing a range of flavors, textures and densities at the meal. Density is often overlooked, but really important when thinking about how we eat. Those creamy mashed potatoes, your Aunt Helen’s cornbread stuffing and the family’s heirloom baked yam recipe are all of similar density. This translates to a pretty boring eating experience (not to mention an overabundance of calories, and a good chance of a post-meal slump). Consider recipes and preparation methods for vegetables and sides that will enhance their flavor and visual appeal without overcooking. In salads, steamed, pickled or gently sautéed, simply cooked veggies will bring lightness and texture, while adding bright pops of color to the thanksgiving spread. Think of your thanksgiving table as a colorful patchwork of traditional family favorites, interwoven with healthful new favorites-to-be.

And as with many families these days, we often need to accommodate guests that are avoiding allergy-triggering ingredients such as gluten, dairy, eggs and soy. While trying out new recipes is fun, it can add unnecessary stress to the holiday meal preparation, especially if you’re not a trained chef. Don’t stress! We offer a variety of family-sized allergen friendly dishes that will help bring a healthful balance to your table. Check our website for complete ingredient lists and full nutritional breakdowns on all our menu items to help make you and your guests feel at ease. And see below for a recipe for gluten-free stuffing using our Sprouted Sorghum Sandwich Bread that will have all your guests asking for seconds!

Menu suggestions, anyone? We always like to start out with an assortment of dips and fresh-cut veggies that our guests can nibble on while catching up. Organic Pharmer’s Creamy Hummus with Hempseed Z’ataar or Mushroom-Walnut Paté are two great choices. For an unusual, but seasonal hors d’oeuvre, OP’s Brown Rice and Quinoa Sushi, with sweet butternut squash, tangy green apple and savory Portobello mushroom is an elegant way to showcase this season’s market best.

For the main event there will be roast turkey, of course. And this year why not give thanks for a locally free-ranged bird from the exclusive poultry supplier to Organic Pharmer, Wise Organic Pastures. Their beautiful turkeys (and chickens) are raised by a group of ten small family farms nestled in the verdant, sun-drenched valleys of the Appalachian foothills in rural Pennsylvania - they’re certified kosher AND certified organic.

It’s only fitting to offer an elevated accompaniment to such a special entrée, and OP’s Carrot-Beet Cleanser is an ideal citrus and mint-spiked foil to those rich slices of poultry. Fresh, bright, crunchy and refreshing, it’s got so much more going for it than that over-sugared jellied cranberry stuff in the can. 

Sorghum Bread & Wild Rice Stuffing with Apple, Chestnuts & Cranberries

6 - 8 servings


1/3 cup organic, fruit-juice sweetened dried cranberries

¼ cup Defense+ Protein Shake (or spiced apple cider)

1.5 cups Dr. Blum’s Vegan "Bone Broth

½ cup organic quick-cooking wild rice

1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil

½ cup organic leek (white part only), chopped

½ cup organic celery, chopped

1 Tbl organic parsley, chopped

2 cups Savory Sorghum Croutons* (recipe follows)

½ cup organic cooked chestnuts, broken into pieces

½ cup organic golden delicious apple, chopped

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1.5 cups Dr. Blum's Vegan "Bone" Broth 

  • Combine dried cranberries and juice in a small cup and set aside.
  • Pour 1.5 cups broth into a small saucepan and bring to boil. Add wild rice, stir, and turn heat to low. Cover pan and cook for 30 – 35 minutes, or until broth is almost completely absorbed by rice. Turn off heat and let rice sit, covered while preparing the rest of the dish.
  • Heat olive oil in small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add leek and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 – 10 minutes. Stir in chopped parsley and remove pan from heat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine croutons, chestnuts, apple, soaked cranberries (including the juice), cooked wild rice and the entire contents of the sauté pan, including cooking oil.
  • Stir mixture well until evenly combined. Add salt, pepper, and second quantity of broth to the bowl and mix again. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer stuffing to a 9” x 9” baking dish. The mixture will be soupy.
  • Place a piece of baking paper (parchment) over the casserole and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  • Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 60 minutes. Remove foil and baking paper and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on top.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Savory Sorghum Croutons

Makes about 3 cups

 1.5 lbs (2 packs) Sprouted Sorghum Sandwich Bread

1 Cup olive oil

6 - 8 leaves fresh sage

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp black pepper

½ tsp granulated garlic

1.5 Tbl nutritional yeast (optional, for a savory flavor)

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cut sorghum bread into cubes, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until dry and lightly toasted.
  • While bread is in the oven, combine the olive oil and sage leaves in a blender and puree. Reserve 3 tablespoons of herb oil and save the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use.
  • When bread cubes are toasted, transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the 3 tablespoons of herb oil to bowl, along with remaining ingredients. Toss well to coat croutons completely.
  • Return croutons to baking sheet, and place back in oven.
  • Bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Let cool completely before enjoying. Store leftover croutons in an airtight container. Return to a hot oven for a few minutes to re-crisp if necessary.

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