Thanksgiving, other holidays go well with smoked watermelon

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This smoked watermelon takes on the appearance of a baked ham, though a bit juicier.

We're about to embark on the holiday season, a time of year that can be a food lover's delight but a dieter's nightmare.

For years before going whole food, plant-based, I could count on gaining 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and my birthday in early February. It's a time of year when it becomes easy to overeat, and to do so on some of the unhealthiest foods.

Since going whole food, plant-based, however, I have been able to either lose weight or to remain at a steady weight through the holiday season. I've learned that an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and cranberries can actually be tastier and more satisfying than the traditional turkey at a Thanksgiving meal.

When celebrating a holiday meal at the home of family or friends, I offer to bring a plant-based lasagna big enough to share with everybody. That way I have a main course to eat, and they all get a side of lasagna if desired.

This year, I learned about something new, and I personally have not yet tried it. But I think it's an interesting alternative for any holiday meal. The idea comes from Ducks Eatery, a smokehouse and bar in New York City. That's not typically where you would expect to find a great plant-based recipe but, as I reported last month, plant-based foods are becoming trendy.

The idea is that the smoked watermelon looks like a real ham. It is even scored like a real ham and when cut into, it is red and juicy just like a real ham.

It was created by chef and restauranteur Will Horowitz as a plant-based alternative. One person who tried it described it on Instagram as "an acid trip for your taste buds." According to Food Insider though, the taste is not like either a ham or a watermelon. They describe it as "sweet and salty and smoky, and definitely, a must try."

The melon is started four to six days in advance, by slicing off the rind and then brining it with a mixture of coriander, oregano, salt and oak wood ash. After four days of brining, the watermelon is dried and smoked for half a day.

For those not sure about a smoked watermelon for Thanksgiving, you might also check out the smoked cantaloupe burger, which can also be found on the menu at Ducks Eatery.

But whatever you enjoy, have a happy Thanksgiving and holiday season by following the words of Michael Pollan: "Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants."

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on plant-based lifestyles.

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