We all have quirky family traditions. Maybe you hide a pickle in the Christmas tree for the kids to find. Maybe your granny wears a dreidel-shaped hat for the duration of Hanukah. Maybe you decorate the Christmas tree while listening to the Little Shop of Horrors sound track. Or eat Chinese takeout and watch Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. Maybe you paint menorahs (and cats) on the windows for Hanukah and dance to Lionel Richie while frying donuts with Aunt Sharon.
Traditions and rituals keep cultures (or at least family cultures) glued together. Getting together as a group and eating massive amounts of food, for example, creates a certain sense of solidarity above and beyond the shared discomfort of being stuffed. Without Memaw’s glazed brussel sprouts and Aunt Bookin’s humming bird cake, the feeling of the holidays just wouldn’t permeate a family get together the way it should. There’s straight-up love in those heavy bowls of gelatin-suspended fruit and creamed corn casserole. We eat at least a bite or two, even if we don’t love the taste.
The fact that the foods we eat during the holidays are not all together healthy is sort of beside the point. It’s the act of preparation and the ritual of eating that matters. But what if you wanted to add one or two good-for-you dishes to the menu this year? Sure, you may get a few strange looks for tampering with tradition, but what better opportunity to start the conversation about organic, local, and sustainable practices? More strange looks, maybe. But, just think of yourself as shaving off a few recovery hours as everyone slumps on the couch to recuperate from over-indulgence. And if you keep it up, if healthy dishes become part of the yearly ritual, future generations will pour organic 40’s over your grave in gratitude.
Here’s a recipe you might like to try…
Kale, Toasted Pecan, Goat Cheese, and Cranberry Salad
- 1/3 cup sliced raw pecans
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- black pepper
- 2 bunches of kale, rinsed and dried, ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400º. Spread the pecans evenly on sheet a pan and bake for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Whisk together the vinegar, orange juice, mustard, shallot and garlic for the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, toss the kale, toasted pecans, dressing and cranberries. Let sit for 10 minutes, then crumble with goat cheese and serve.