“ O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” — William Shakespeare

Gratitude, oh gratitude. A simple word that carries a mighty message, reminding us to sing out our praises to God and thankfulness for family, friends, and the beauty that is our life. Every Thanksgiving I am reminded to pause and reflect on the multitude of blessings that have inspired me to create a delicious life.

After a tornado ravaged our beautiful state in May, many found themselves ever so thankful for their very lives. I will never forget the force of nature that ripped through my town, tearing major holes in my home, most especially the roof, and unsettling my world for the past six months.

As the holiday approaches, I realize my blessings are many, and this year’s observance of Thanksgiving will be particularly heartfelt. No matter what darkness we face, with gratitude, there can be new light.

The Pilgrims, who first established the wonderfully blessed day of Thanksgiving, must have known the glory of gratitude. After surviving intensely severe challenges, they sat down to a feast that epitomizes the connection between faith, heart and hope.

Those tenacious settlers were true conscious cooks. They took what was available to them and prepared food so imbued with love and natural nutrition, that versions of those recipes have endured throughout the decades. Today’s kitchens contain a wonderland of readily available ingredients that will be the base for luscious, modern holiday dishes.

Vegetables are a constant component of this traditional feast. Packed with powerful nutrients and delectable flavor, Thanksgiving vegetables can be as simple or as creative as the cook prefers. Whether mashed, pureed, gratineed, baked, grilled, blended into soups, or baked into desserts, vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, and squash bring brilliant color and flavor to the Thanksgiving meal. Full of potassium, and vitamins A and C, these vegetables are wonderful for healthy skin, nails and hair, as well as providing anti-inflammatory benefits.

Thanksgiving Day can be hectic, especially if you are welcoming a large group of guests. Luscious vegetable based dips or spreads are a toothsome treat that will keep guests satisfied until the main event, without being too heavy. And a light, lovely, vegetable-based appetizer, melds beautifully with a calming glass of wine for the host!

Roasting carrots will emphatically release their natural sugars, and when blended with a host of complementary flavors will be a highlight of the days’ delights. Use large, organic carrots for this dish, for extra sweet flavor. Scrub them very well to remove any dirt or grit and they will not need to be peeled.

Be grateful, for the glory of preparing a delicious life is truly something to be thankful for!

Colorful Carrot Dip

Makes 1 cup

2-3 large, organic carrots (well scrubbed, not peeled)

1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil

Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (or spice blend of your choice)

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 small head of garlic (drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in aluminum foil)

1 teaspoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, lay carrots. Drizzle with olive oil. Roll them around until coated with the oil. Sprinkle with spice blend, and roll around again. Place the foil wrapped garlic on the baking sheet. Roast until very tender, stirring carrots every 5 minutes. Garlic should be done when carrots are done. Remove from oven, let cool slightly. Cut carrots into chunks, transfer carrots to a blender or food processor, squeeze out roasted garlic cloves into blender or food processor. Add maple syrup, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until desired smoothness. If too chunky, add small amounts of maple syrup and olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a container or bowl and let chill for at least 30 minutes. Can be prepared 2-3 days ahead. Serve with petite carrots, rainbow carrots, flatbread, or root vegetable chips.

For more on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, The Conscious Cook, go to theconsciosucook.net.