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.



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

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.


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!


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


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.



2 lbs carrots
Olive oil
Sea salt
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.