Our Nordic Christmas Table: Gather & Feast
Holiday gathering recipes by The Nomadic Wife | Emilie Iggiotti Photography

Article featured in YEG Inspired Magazine | Props by Shop Hearth | PHOTOS BY EMILIE IGGIOTTI


 

I'm at the stage of my life where, with our first baby on the way, I'm considering deeply what it means to have family traditions. I'm trying to be mindful of keeping a thread that links back our roots while developing new traditions that are, dare I say it, better aligned with our lifestyle.

 
Christmas Tablescape | The Nomadic Wife | Photography By Emilie
Christmas Tablescape | The Nomadic Wife | Photography By Emilie
 

Make new traditions.

From my past, I bring forward some quintessential Canadian Christmas dinner traditions. At the center of it all is the act of gathering as many people as I can until our home is bursting at the seams. I adore when people I know & love congregate around a table laden with tourtière, currant sauce, Hasselback potatoes on the side, sugar pie & pouding chômeur. While some things need to be left as they were 50 years ago — such as the perfect roasted turkey — I'll admit to having added my own twist to many of these recipes.

Being the slightly more conscious eater now than my mother was at my age, I've started to include large salads & other veggie-filled sides in our holiday feast. It fills my plant-based heart to the brim to see brightly colored veg mixed into the the more traditional dishes of my past.

Who says you can’t have kale salad or green juice during the holidays?

Friends from far & wide

Christmas has a knack for stirring the pot for many of us. Most of our friends here in the city are transplants just like us and spend Christmas far from those they hold dear & wish to break bread with the most. However, I must admit that I have grown to love the delights of sharing our holiday table with friends, old and new, who've come from near and far to share a meal & bask in the holiday vibes.

There’s something quite wonderful about growing a new family in a different city.

I try to see the beauty in every aspect of the holidays and extend a heart filled with love to those who struggle with the season. I’ve been there, in that place where it seems like the holidays will never be the same. It’s for these people, and our nostalgic friends, that I open our home in an attempt to to keep the magic and whimsy of it alive. So here’s to gathering as many of your loved ones as you can & celebrating the heck out of the holidays, no matter what past years were like.
 

 
Christmas Tablescape | The Nomadic Wife | Photography By Emilie
 

Abundance & Feast

Despite coming from simple roots, the feeling of abundance was always present around the Christmas table, so I've made a point to keep it overflowing.. only with healthier options than its vintage counterpart.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas recipes for you to try & perhaps spark the beginning of a new tradition of your own.

 

WANT TO TRY SOME EASY HOLIDAY DISHES? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES:

Decadent Mayan Hot Cacao - Boozy or plain holiday treat
Mayan Hot Cocoa by The Nomadic Wife | Emilie Iggiotti Photography

Article featured in YEG Inspired Magazine | Props by Shop Hearth | PHOTOS BY EMILIE IGGIOTTI


 

Spiced & boozy hot chocolate

I'm always looking for alternatives to boozy drinks during the holiday season. This seemed to me like the perfect in-between since it can be made plain for littles (or your guests who just aren't lush-y) but it can also be spiked with everything from creamy alcohols like Amarula to a little whiskey.

To each her own & her own traditions! Personally, I like sitting at the kid's table on this one.. but sometimes I up the cayenne for an extra little kick!

 
Mayan Hot Cocoa by The Nomadic Wife | Emilie Iggiotti Photography
MEL-TNW-YEG-INSPIRED-XMAS-113.jpg
 

A hot chocolate that will please both little and not-so-little people at your party.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying it will replace dessert, because who wants to skip on that, but it just might considering how rich it is. This hot cuppa’ is sweet, slightly salty & just spiced enough that it brings a little something more to the mix then plain old hot cacao. You can choose to top it with whip or have kids add their own marshmallow mountain on top. The choice is yours.

 
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2 large mugs

2 C whole milk
1 C 35% cream
2 T raw cacao
½ t true cinnamon
A pinch of cayenne
A pinch of salt
Marshmallows for topping

5 mins prep + 5 mins boil

  1. Add milk and cream into a pot over medium heat, stir constantly until it begins to simmer.
  2. Add cacao, cinnamon, cayenne & salt.
  3. Continue stirring until it reaches a boil then remove from heat right away.
  4. Serve hot & top with marshmallows, whip or enjoy it plain!

WANT TO TRY SOME EASY HOLIDAY DISHES? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES:

On farm dinners, CSA & Roasted Carrots with Honey & Cayenne
Roasted Carrots with Honey & Cayenne | Recipe by The Nomadic Wife | Photo by Sara Jewell Photography

RECIPE SPONSORED BY RIVERBEND GARDENS

Photos by Sara Jewell Photography


 

On farm dinners

Ever get that feeling like you did something just yesterday and the stream of time just slipped on by without you truly noticing?

That’s how I feel about the dinner I hosted this summer at Riverbend Gardens. When I get out there, all I want to do is kick off my shoes and feel the earth beneath my feet. It seems to me like I was doing that just yesterday.

I’ve included a few photos from the dinner, because I also want to slip you a quick word that this may be a more frequent thing in years to come. Farm to table right there on the farm. Maybe with some workshops. Hopefully with lots of laughter. Definitely with lots of food.

 
Aga of Herbologie | On farm dinner at Riverbend Gardens Alberta
on farm dinner alberta by the nomadic wife | photography by sara jewell
on farm dinner alberta by the nomadic wife | sara jewell photography
 

Vegetarian menu for our farm dinner

The menu was an easy one, made for sharing & inspired by the season but with ingredients that can easily be found from the Riverbend farmstand even now that the city is covered in an icy slick. You could just as easily make the roasted beet salad on a bed of winter mix, the roasted carrots with honey & cayenne (see recipe below) or the potato salad from my youth. They are all recipes that transcend the seasons because at their core is veg that grows in the summer but stores incredibly well during the colder months.

These are all recipes that are still featured on our table, long after the last carrot has been plucked from the ground.

on farm dinner alberta by the nomadic wife | photography by sara jewell

Though you can no longer get carrot tops this time of year, you could easily replace those with parsley, and it would most likely be quite different but just as good.

 
The Nomadic Wife on farm dinner edmonton alberta
easy roasted carrots with cayenne and honey recipe by the nomadic wife
 

Our CSA share

*CSA stands for community supported agriculture*

While the Riverbend Gardens winter CSA season is now over (their farmer’s market stands are still going strong), looking back at this season my heart is filled with joy. I would have never guessed when I arrived in Alberta a few short years ago that I would meet this lovely farm family and the wonderful people who support and surround them. Never mind host a dinner for some of my favorite women right there on their land.

For our family, getting a CSA is about more than just knowing where our produce comes from. It’s about being part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s the being part of this larger farm family and feeling welcomed among them, that’s what gets me every time.

So, here’s to another great CSA season next year & cheers to all of you who support your local farms. May your coffee be strong and your veggies be fresh.

 
 


4 SERVINGS

2 lbs carrots
Olive oil
Sea salt
Cayenne
Raw honey

10 MIN PREP + bake 25 mins

  1. Wash your carrots well and trim the tops off if there are any.

  2. Place on a baking tray, over parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil.

  3. Bake at 400 for 15 mins, flip your carrots and bake for another 10 mins.

  4. Pull from the oven, sprinkle with salt, a small pinch of cayenne & a drizzle of honey.

  5. Serve hot or room temperature.


WANT TO TRY A FEW MORE DISHES THIS WEEK? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES:

Red Cabbage & Onion Soup
Red Cabbage & Onion Soup | Simple plant based lunch | The nomadic wife
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RECIPE SPONSORED BY RIVERBEND GARDENS


 

Variation on a tried and true cabbage soup

I spend a lot of time telling people to "make recipes their own" and not to be afraid of swapping out an ingredient on a whim. So for this recipe, I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is and show you what a variation on one of my favorite soups.

Is the result exactly the same as the original? Of course not, the ingredients have shifted, so how could it be. However, it is no less delicious and actually has some slightly more umami undertones I was never able to attain with its predecessor. 

Grab the original recipe (with green cabbage and yellow onion, here)

 

 

4 servings

1 head of red cabbage
1 large red onion
2 T butter
4 C (vegetable or chicken) stock
3 T tamari
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 C sauerkraut
 

 

Directions

15 mins prep + 20 mins cook

  1. In a large soup pot, over medium heat, add the butter & the minced onions.

  2. Cook them until they begin to caramelize then deglaze with the vinegar.

  3. Thinly slice the cabbage, add it to the pot along with the tamari & stock.

  4. Cook until the cabbage is tender then serve with sauerkraut.

 


WANT TO TRY A FEW MORE CABBAGE DISHES THIS WEEK? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES:

Easy Hasselback Potatoes
Hasselback Potatoes | Photo by Emilie Iggiotti | The Nomadic Wife

RECIPE SPONSORED BY RIVERBEND GARDENS | PHOTOS BY EMILIE IGGIOTTI


 

Holiday traditions are evolving in our home

I love mash as much as the next gal, but we’ve traded in regular mash for sweet potato mash in our house during the holiday season as a means to get more color on the plate. We now make these fun little hasselbacks for those who still want a good ol’ potato side dish with their main. They’re incredibly simple to make and result in crispy outside, fluffy inside goodness.

 
Hasselback Potatoes | Photo by Emilie Iggiotti | The Nomadic Wife

 

Ingredients

Three to four small potatoes per person

Potatoes
Olive oil
Salt

Optional: cheese, fresh herbs like rosemary or flavored salts for an added twist

 

Directions

10 mins prep + bake 40 mins at 425°F

  1. Cut slits into the potatoes every ⅛ inch leaving the bottoms intact.

  2. Brush olive oil on & sprinkle with salt.

  3. Bake for 20 mins, then brush on more olive oil & bake for the remaining 20 mins.

  4. Serve immediately with fresh herbs or plain.

 


WANT TO TRY A FEW MORE Potato DISHES THIS WEEK? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES:

Minty Pickled Beet Salad
simple beet salad with goat cheese and mint - the nomadic wife
pickled beet salad with goat cheese and mint - the nomadic wife

RECIPE SPONSORED BY RIVERBEND GARDENS


 

Pickled beets from my mother's kitchen

I remember a day when I was fourteen & I was watching the snow fall on the lawn of our family home. It was nice and toasty inside, but outside, a big ol' Canadian storm was brewing.

I paced back from our kitchen patio doors to the stairs and down to the basement, where my mother stored row upon row of jars filled to the brim with a liquid that seemed black as night in the dimly lit storage room.

Bettraves 2004, was scribbled on the top of the two-part mason lid, perfect. I knew they had only been made for a few weeks, in the late fall. My mother insisted that they ought to remain there gathering dust for at least a few months before we ate them, but I just couldn't help myself.

I snuck back up into the kitchen, untwisted the ring of the lid and with the help of the side of a fork removed the sealed disk to the sound of a satisfying pop.

I plunged the fork tines into the dark wine-colored liquid, and it found its target quickly. In one swift move, I went from jar to mouth and crunched down on the very first tangy pickled beet of the year. As always, it was the perfect harmony between the earthy sweetness of the beet & the tangy vinegar of the brine.

 
simple beet salad with goat cheese and mint - the nomadic wife
 

Beets straight from the jar & on every plate

These days, I still make my mother's pickled beets in the fall, except that now I no longer need to sneak around to eat them by the pint. I'm the only one in our home who enjoys the perfect balance between the sweet root & the sour vinegar.

While eating them like this still has a fond place in my heart, I also serve them as a side dish or plop a jar of them on the table next to the salt & pepper, just in case.

 
simple beet salad with goat cheese and mint - the nomadic wife
simple beet salad with goat cheese and mint - the nomadic wife
 

Beet Salad for lunch

Today's recipe is a little salad I enjoy when I manage to convince myself that an entire pint of beets doesn't qualify as lunch. You can lay this salad on a bed of mixed greens with a little olive oil or serve it up with your favorite crackers. It's simple, but not overly so, and brings a vivid color to the plate when the rest of the world is otherwise turning white.

 

 

Ingredients

Makes 2 portions

1 pint jar of pickled beets
¼ - ½ C goat cheese
1 T dry mint
Salt to taste

* serve with sprouts & crackers or on top of greens with a drizzle of olive oil.

 

Directions

5 mins prep 

  1. To make the pickled beets, simply follow this recipe but use beets.

  2. Once your jars have sat for a few weeks, place beets on a plate with a good sprinkle of salt, mint & a dollop of goat cheese.

  3. From there you can add your favorite crackers and call it a snack or put this on top of salad greens with olive oil and call it a light lunch.

 


WANT TO TRY A FEW MORE DISHES THIS WEEK? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES:

Middle Eastern Almond Rice
easy dinner recipe Middle eastern almond rice
simple dinner recipe almond rice

RECIPE SPONSORED BY RIVERBEND GARDENS


 

No desire to cook tonight? No worries. This is better than takeout!

This easy recipe is one of those "I have absolutely no desire to cook tonight" recipes. It's super quick, and you can make a larger batch if you like as it keeps quite well in the fridge. I almost prefer it the next day, when it has cooled off and I eat it right from the fridge. Haha.

That being said, it's an easy rice dish to warm up, with a little butter or oil, and have as lunch the next day too!

Typically, it can be made with ground lamb or beef, but I personally prefer this vegetarian take on the dish. The key is the cumin + cinnamon balance. Too little of either spice will leave you rice tasting rather bland. So start with the measured amounts but don't be afraid to sprinkle a little extra on there!

Enjoy this little taste of middle eastern cuisine! <3

Note: this dish is already packed with protein from the almonds, but if you would like to add meat, just stir fry it separately and add it before serving. I've had this with everything from ground beef to chicken breast & it's always yummy!

 

 

Ingredients

Makes 2 portions

1 C rice
1/4 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T olive oil or butter
2 C almonds, roughly chopped
2 t cinnamon
1 t cumin
1 t fresh black pepper
Salt to taste
1 1/2 C vegetable stock

Veggies

1 can sweet corn
10-12 Brussels sprouts
Chopped kale
Any other veggies you have left over, chopped
Parsley for topping - optional but super yummy

Directions

5 mins prep + 15 mins cooking

In a large pan over medium heat, add your onion, garlic, pepper cinnamon, cumin & olive oil.
Stir until fragrant, then add the rice and let it soak up the oil. About 2 mins. 
Add the vegetable stock and bring up to a boil. Then cover and set to low for about 10 minutes.
In the mean time, chop your vegetables.
Once the rice is ready, fluff it lightly with a spoon and mix in your raw veggies.
Cover for another 2-3 minutes, so the veggies can steam lightly, and serve with parsley & fresh pepper.


WANT TO TRY A FEW MORE DISHES THIS WEEK? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES:

10 minute creamy broccoli & carrot salad
creamy broccoli & carrot salad with yogurt dressing

RECIPE SPONSORED BY RIVERBEND GARDENS


 

Fall veg at it's best

These days, I waltz between the desire to have a hot soup and fall into hibernation and flood my body with beautiful raw produce. Today, I took a penchant for the later and decided there was still time for a good ol' raw salad before the season is out.

Broccoli & carrots (and most other root veg) are abundant during this part of the year and they overflow the tables of our local farmer's market. So I figured, why not experience them at their best one last time before everything becomes either pickled, cooked or fermented for the winter season.

 
easy lunch salad recipe with a creamy yogurt dressing - the nomadic wife
easy carrot & broccoli salad recipe with a creamy yogurt dressing - the nomadic wife
 

TZATZIKI: A creamy dressing worthy of the MEDITERRANEAN 

I'll admit I'm having a bit a of a love affair with dairy these days, and this recipe is no exception. The plain yogurt and raw garlic add a delightful tanginess to this otherwise banal salad. It's just so luscious I was tempted to lick the sauce container instead of rinsing it off like a decent adult human being.

When mixed with the sweet carrots, the crunchy broccoli, the tart cranberries & the pungent shallots, it's a match made in heaven. Just the perfect amount of every flavor with every bite being slightly different than the last.

 
easy lunch salad recipe with a creamy yogurt dressing - the nomadic wife
Creamy broccoli & carrot salad - the nomadic wife
 

2 SERVINGS

1 medium broccoli
6 medium carrots
1/2 C pumpkin seeds
1/2 C dried cranberries
1 french shallot
Parsley

TZATZIKI

1 C Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic
1 Lebanese cucumber
1 pinch of salt

10 MIN PREP

Mince your garlic & cucumber
Mix them with yogourt & salt and let sit until you're ready to eat so the flavors can develop.
Chop your veggies into bite-size pieces, and layer them into jars (or a large bowl).
Layer on minced shallow, pumpkin seeds & cranberries.
Serve with half the creamy tzatziki sauce.


WANT TO TRY A FEW MORE DISHES THIS WEEK? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES:

Greek salad bowl with farro and nettle
greek salad bowl with farro and nettle - the nomadic wife

RECIPE SPONSORED BY GRAIN


 

A fall bowl with some summer vibes

If you’re anything like me, you love bowls. They’re just the easiest kind of meal to put together because more often than not they can accommodate whatever veggies you have hanging out in the fridge. Now, if you’re ready to up your bowl game while keeping it crazy simple, carry on. I’ve got a few fun twists on the traditional bowl for you.

With fall well on its way & the cool of winter just around the corner, I wanted to develop a recipe that was both cool & filling and reminded me of the summer days that seem to have come and gone too fast. 
 

 
greek salad bowl with farro and nettle - the nomadic wife
easy Greek salad bowl with farro and nettle - the nomadic wife
 

Farro, a trip to the Mediterranean 

Farro is the perfect vehicle for a recipe like that. You can even cook it ahead of time, pop it in the fridge days where you have no desire to boil anything. If you haven’t had it before, you’re seriously missing out in the grain department!

It’s been a staple of Italian cuisine for a very long time, and with the mediterranean theme in mind, I started pulling together flavors that would complement its tender & chewy nature. As far as taste goes, most people say farro is pretty neutral, though I’d argue it does have a slightly nutty flavor to it. 

This is great news, in any case, for all your bowl-crazy people out there. Put simply, it’ll go well with just about any produce and just about any sauce.

 
twist on the traditional greek salad with farro and nettle - the nomadic wife
 

A twist on a classic: Greek Salad

We’ve all had greek salad before, and although this recipe doesn’t feature most of its quintessential ingredients — no tomatoes or olives to be found — it does feature its summer quenching zing & spicy notes of oregano.

Then the twist: stinging nettles. They are a somewhat mysterious good-for-everything plant. Though I agree it’s not the most common of ingredients, it is, in my opinion, a pantry item that everyone should explore. Especially women, as it’s loaded with iron. I suggest you get it in dried form (like I used in this recipe) as it can be incredibly difficult to find it fresh unless you’re growing it yourself. It has a very green taste, for lack of better words. Some describe it as the lovechild of spinach and artichoke, though in this context I find it is overall more of a mild greenery taste.

Should you decide that you do not want to be bothered with it at all, though I really suggest you give it a try, you can substitute it for dried parsley, or even chopped up fresh spinach.

 
greek salad bowl with farro and nettle - the nomadic wife
greek salad bowl with farro and nettle - the nomadic wife
 

2 SERVINGS

1 C Farro
¼ C nettles
¼ C pumpkin seeds
¼ C crumbled feta
4 lebanese cucumbers
2 sweet red peppers
1 T oregano
2 T white wine vinegar
4 T olive oil
A pinch of salt

5 MIN PREP + 45 MINS COOK

Cook your farro with 4 C of water and a pinch of salt for about 45 minutes, it should be tender but firm.
While it’s cooking, chop your cucumbers & peppers.
When your farro is ready, let it cool (or rinse it under cool water to accelerate the process).
Place half of the farro & half of the toppings in a bowl, repeat for the second bowl then drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of salt & white wine vinegar. 
Toss well before eating & enjoy!


WANT TO TRY A FEW MORE DISHES THIS WEEK? CHECK OUT THESE EASY RECIPES: