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A Gluten-Free Vegetarian Guide to Thanksgiving

If you want to plan an intensely flavorful vegetarian menu for Thanksgiving, look no further! Today I’m sharing a recipe for Gluten-Free Millet Dressing. I’ll also point you to my sumptuous versions of traditional American holiday side dishes, which will fill your family with joy and gratitude!

Why millet?  Millet is a good source of vegetarian protein. One cup of cooked millet offers 6 grams of vegetarian, gluten-free protein, which equals the protein in one egg. It’s also filling, grounding and easy to make.

Now for the rest of the menu. My famous Holiday Sweet Potatoes, topped with a pound and a half of pecans, are the eagerly awaited crown jewel of our holiday table. For a dash of freshness and color I offer this cranberry salad, a squeaky clean, upscale version of the canned stuff that used to be served when we were growing up! Round our your plate with Pan-Seared Tofu to increase your protein intake and offset the sugary dishes. Add some Smoky Greens to balance the palate (and move all this food through your system)!

Ahhh….all this before your pumpkin pie.

The sweet potatoes, millet dressing, and cranberry salad are all very easy to make. Even so, you’ll want to plan about three hours to make all of these and clean up as you go. For that reason, I’ve added two “Seven-Minute Sides,” the tofu and greens, so you can wrap up your cooking day expeditiously.

Your best bet is to begin some preparations on Wednesday. At a minimum, I recommend that you cook a soup stock on Wednesday to flavor the dressing. It takes about 10 minutes to put together plus 45 minutes to an hour of cooking time, and time to cool so you can refrigerate it. If you’re home Wednesday afternoon, you can also cook the millet and refrigerate it until the next day. Try baking the sweet potatoes Wednesday evening, and leave them in the oven to cool overnight.

If you save most of your cooking for Thursday, I suggest that you begin your morning by baking the sweet potatoes for 90 minutes, and when they’re done, take them out of the oven to cool. While the potatoes are baking, you can cook the millet and begin the rest of the dressing recipe. Once you finish preparing the dressing, put it in the oven on 400 degrees to brown. While the dressing is in the oven, you can pick up where you left off with the potatoes: pull their skins off, mash them per the recipe, make the pecan topping and put it all together in a baking dish. If you’re ready to serve dinner within a half-hour or so, add the potatoes to the oven now. If the dressing was done earlier in the day, reheat it now as well. During this half hour you’ll have time to prepare the greens and tofu. Then voilà! It will all be ready to serve to your hungry guests.

Wishing you a very happy holidaiy with family and friends as you enjoy this vegetarian Thanksgiving menu…and may your hearts swell with gratitude for the abundant blessings in your life.



Preparation time: 45 minutes active; about 90 minutes start to finish
Makes 8 moderate portions


I developed this small dish recipe for a modest family gathering. You can easily double it for larger celebrations. 


1½ cups dry millet
4½ cups Easy Vegetable Soup Stock
2 large leeks
¼ cup ghee or olive oil
¼ pound of shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
6 fresh sage leaves (1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
up to 1 teaspoon Grey Celtic Sea Salt


Cook’s Tip: You can sauté the leeks, mushrooms and herbs in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or Dutch oven that can be transferred to the oven for browning the completed dressing. Or, if you prefer, you can transfer the dressing to a greased rectangular baking dish, from which you serve. (If you’re wondering about the small orange specks in the photo: I added some roasted butternut squash cubes to this batch on a day when I was not also baking sweet potatoes.)


1. Rinse and strain the millet. Cook it in a 2- or 3-quart pot with the soup stock by bringing it to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.


2. Clean and slice the leeks. Heat the ghee or oil in a skillet or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add the leeks and cook them until they turn golden. While the leeks are cooking, clean the mushrooms and remove their stems. Mince the mushrooms in a food processor or chop them by hand. Add the mushrooms to the pan,and cover. While the mushrooms are cooking, chop the rosemary, thyme and sage, and add them to the mushroom/leek mixture. Add ginger and stir.


3. When the millet is finished cooking, combine the mushroom/leek mixture with the millet. Taste first before adding any salt. (You may not need any salt, particularly if you use a boxed stock rather than homemade.) Return the final mixture to the cast-iron pan that has been newly coated with ghee or oil, or to a greased baking dish. About an hour before serving time, bake on 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until browned on top.  Let cool for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

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