FD Healthy: Thanksgiving Reflections & Recipes

By: Mia "Veggetti" Lewis, First Descents Chef Manager

Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday, and not just for the amazing food. In my home, we love that it means taking the time to pause and think about all that we’re grateful for, the traditions, big and small, nostalgic and new, that brings us together.

We take a moment before digging in to express what it is we are thankful for in life. It’s always a sweet moment, and an opportunity for us to reflect and express our gratitude. It usually ends in a table full of tears, of joy and love. Wouldn’t it be great if every meal could be like that?

As a Chef for First Descents, I try to bring that same tradition into our family style dinners. One of the first things I do when arriving on location is scope out where we will share our meals. It is very important to me to have everyone sit together as much as possible. And for a week, every night is like Thanksgiving dinner. The conversations and relationships built around that table night after night are one of the reasons why I keep coming back.

In the 2018 season I have been given the opportunity to take a step back from the kitchen and switch rolls to the new Chef Manager for First Descents. I am so very thankful that I will have the honor of sharing some of what I have learned these past 5 seasons in and out of the FD kitchens.

In my home after our big feast is over, the men do all the dishes, YAY!!!
I take charge of wrapping up the leftovers and giving away for all to enjoy for days to come. I get asked quite a bit for new ideas so the leftovers don’t get boring.

When you spot the leftover baked sweet potatoes, call dibs!

They’re high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C, and provide the most calcium of all potato varieties.

Sweet potatoes are also slower to digest than white potatoes, which will prevent blood sugar spikes that can cause you to feel hungry shortly after a meal.

Here is a great way to use your left over sweet potatoes for a breakfast treat.

Leftover Sweet Potato Loaf (vegan, gluten free)

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil , melted
  • 6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda, then stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and water. Add in the apple cider vinegar.
  3. Transfer the batter to the lined loaf pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.


Bon appetite! 

Meet Veggetti, our Chef Manager at First Descents:

In 2009, Mia “Veggetti” Lewis enrolled in a local culinary school, but soon realized she was looking for so much more than learning the basics of food preparation and cooking. Mia wanted to learn the healing properties of food. The Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) in New York City held the answers to the many questions. And so began Mia’s culinary journey.

Upon graduation from NGI, Mia completed her internship in Berkeley, CA at the Three Stone Hearth, a unique model for community-scale food preparation and processing. Soon after, she was hired as a Chef for First Descents. Mia never imagined that being a chef could give her the opportunities and experiences as it has. Cooking for FD connected her with a world outside of herself. Since 2013, Veggetti has worked nearly 40 programs as a Lead Chef and for the 2018 season will step into the roll as the First Descents Chef Manager. When Veggetti is not traveling with FD, she works as a private health-supportive chef in Delaware.

For Veggetti, cooking comes from a place of peace, a place where her spirit and love of healing and creativity come together to provide healthy and delicious meals for others.

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For more information on the nutritional content of sweet potatoes, please consult the FDA nutritional information of raw vegetables.  

To order a copy of our very own Out Cooking It with First Descents cookbook, explore our FD Store.

Please note that First Descents does not conduct nutritional research studies, nor does FD encourage readers to ensue any dramatic dietary or nutritional shifts without first consulting a doctor or certified nutritionist.

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