Posts tagged Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

My Thanksgiving Review

Now that I have had a few weeks to rest after clocking 18 plus hours in the kitchen prepping our vegan holiday meal, I wanted to write a quick review and share a few things that I learned. Of course I want to share my photos too ;) I had more fun “digesting” everything in the days after Thanksgiving, (especially the leftovers) because things are always nuts when you are playing hostess!

Check out some of my photos of our dinner together…

How it all went down~

As far as appetizers go… The artichoke spinach dip was absolutely FABULOUS! It’s my new favorite and I will make it often, definitely for Christmas. We found ourselves all fighting over the last cranberry pesto crostini, so those were a hit as well. The stuffed mushrooms were really great, but not as good as I planned. I made the filling the night before to save time. I learned that red onions turn a funny color and turn the filling a bit purple when left overnight! They still turned out looking good but that freaked me out a bit. Next time, I will make these the day of. I also used panko crumbs, but I will stick to using regular bread crumbs for this. They tell me that these were fabulous too, but the cook is always her worst critic.

The soup recipe for butternut squash apple was the Holiday Soup recipe from of the awesome Vitamix cookbook. It was really delicious, but I felt it was a bit too heavy on the nutmeg and not sweet enough. I just made this again two nights ago and tweaked it with more apple, less nutmeg and less white pepper, and it was perfect!! No complaints on Thanksgiving. As far as food, we could have stopped here after the soup. We were so full at this point!

The sweet potato casserole was perfect. The recipe called for a little orange juice concentrate which I had never added in the past. I really liked the flavor boost.

Stuffing… I am not a huge fan to begin with. I liked the fruit and toasted almond stuffing idea, as it was fancy shmancy, but it was SO MUCH WORK and unexpectedly the day of. Maybe I could have made it the day before and let it soak in the veggie broth.  I took the tinfoil off near the end of baking to give it a crispier outside. I guess I prefer mushy stuffing and this wasn’t the best idea. Thinking about what it is… stuffing, I have no desire to be stuffed – and that is all that these extra carbs do. Stuff ya! I’ll skip this next year.

Let’s talk main dish ~The roast. I had to have this while I was out shopping one day. Just to try it. It looked so good! It cooked up beautifully. It definitely needs gravy. Thankfully, I made the impromptu mushroom gravy for the potatoes and it was amazing. The roast itself was really good, but with a heavy sausage flavor. I can’t complain because that was as described on the package. It was a little too heavy of a dish for my liking. We had all of this other home cooked food to choose from, so to eat the roast just threw the vegan meal off for me. We don’t do to many mock meats anymore AND I was also way too stuffed for such a heavy dish. When you eat plant-based, you are used to eating lighter and your body is used to being lighter. I don’t regret this choice though. I could have done without it that night, BUT it was AWESOME for leftovers with gravy (when we were hungry) the next few days. The Timbales turned out great per usual. I really love making them and they are a yearly tradition for us now.

Dessert! The cheezecake was sooo very rich, we always love this. The pumpkin pie was heaven with rice whip cream topping. I had a little mishap with the crust though. It stuck to the parchment paper and I wasn’t aggressive enough getting it out when I served it. I know! It could have been that much better had I served it with crust! I discovered this the next day and enjoyed eating just the crust. Extra crust all for me… kind of the best part! The baked pears were fun! Also great with rice whip topping. Although, I was in a hurry to get them out of the oven and they could have baked for much longer. They were still quite firm. Maybe that is how they are meant to be? Still delicious as could be.

My only slight complaint about the holiday was that our dessert guests got lured into eating dessert where they had their Thanksgiving dinner earlier, and came over with full stomachs! That was truly disappointing, oh well, what are you going to do? It only left MORE for us to enjoy later!

What else???  I guess everything else is straight forward.

To choose vegan, it just takes conscious effort. It’s EASY, kind, responsible, and it’s very enjoyable! Replace the butter and dairy milk with something like Earth Balance margarine or coconut oil, almond, rice or coconut milk… There are also numerous raw vegan dessert recipes that will totally rock the show and can be found on the internet.

When you can present a special meal that is colorful and delicious with all the flavors of the Thanksgiving holiday such as Thyme, Sage, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Rosemary, etc… why do you need to add the violence? And so what that you don’t have Turkey. You are STUFFED by the time dinner is over and you don’t miss a damn thing. I promise you. The artist in me loves the creative challenge of vegan cooking and it will never grow old. The rebel in me loves the idea of showing the world it can be done a different and kinder way. Screw the traditions that include violence, ill health and destruction. It’s so not necessary. Turkey for protein you say? We had a protein overload without it! But who is really worried about protein intake on Thanksgiving? You are really looking for flavor and that is easily achieved without any animal exploitation. It may not have been the ultimate healthy meal but I sure felt the healthiest eating it, compared to any other  “traditional carnivorous Thanksgiving” that I have ever eaten in the past. Besides, when you do something with intention, it makes it that more enjoyable. Our intention was a vegan dinner that compared to what anyone else was eating, but better. We achieved it in my book. However, next year it’s a vacation or take out from the Chicago Diner. Cooking can be exhausting! I cook almost every night, so I could use to be treated out once in a while. Or better yet, maybe one of you will invite us to your next vegan feast!?

The recipes that I picked to make are certainly acceptable to make again for Christmas dinner and that is right around the corner, so I figured it is not too late to share my reviews in case anyone out there wants to try the recipes. You can find my holiday menu by clicking here or find these and more on my Pinterest page. I am thinking of raise the roof sweet potato lasagna by Engine 2 for Christmas. It’s also in the Forks over Knives handbook.

To sum it up, everything turned out wonderful. We enjoyed counting our blessings and sharing a peaceful evening together with delicious food. Everyone enjoys their own recipes and traditions and your own holidays are special and memorable, but it is my hope that more of us will think outside the box, outside of ourselves, and make the holidays enjoyable, memorable and kind for all beings on this planet. Especially factory farmed animals.

I hope you enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving day! Please share some of your own traditions, recipes and ideas for a cruelty free, healthier holiday with me in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Now it’s off to plan Christmas dinner and I am hosting two this year, but they will be much lower key! At least I hope, but I know me. I am a bit tired just thinking about it, but I am excited to figure out the menu.

For now, we have one of our trees up and are enjoying the ambiance. I just love getting up early in the morning and turning the lights on!

...And our cat, Cosmo checking out the tree? :)

…And our cat, Cosmo checking things out :)

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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New Traditions: 24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based-Vegan Main Dishes

“Now is the Thyme to start a new Thanksgiving tradition: Adopt a turkey!”
~Farm Sanctuary

“When a sense of consciousness informs our actions, when our intentions reflect kindness and nonviolence, when our thoughts turn to someone else’s needs rather than our own desires, there is no denying that something profound takes place. In the absence of suffering, there is peace. In the presence of compassion, there is joy.” ~The Vegan Table

Hey everyone, meet Thyme. One very lucky turkey. Notice the heart on Thyme’s neck? He’s my son’s choice for our annual adopt-a-turkey tradition through Farm Sanctuary. I had my eye on a cuter turkey, but when I expressed my opinion, my son quickly scolded me “NO he’s the cutest!”. Ok! And there you have it…

Thanksgiving~  Such a tough holiday for many of us, knowing the grim outlook for 46 million of these gentle spirits. Exactly how did turkeys become the centerpiece for a holiday of thanks and gratitude? We do have so much to be grateful for and a beautiful feast helps us to express that, but there are no rules. Traditions can be altered and improved.

99% of turkeys are factory farmed birds and have absolutely nothing to be thankful for. The conditions are grim. The truth is brutal. Click this link to meet your Butterball turkey and witness your typical store bought bird’s life experience before making it to your plate. Warning: the video is disheartening and will make you angry. You certainly don’t have to watch it, but a good rule of thumb to remember is, if it’s not good enough for your eyes, it should not be good enough for your stomach.

Did you know…

Although the turkey as the centerpiece of of the holiday dinner is deeply entrenched in our society, diners at the original 1621 Pilgrim’s feast made no mention of turkey as part of their meal. In fact, turkey only became popular as a Thanksgiving staple in the mid-twentieth century, after decades of MEDIA PROMOTION and breeding of the white, domesticated turkeys exploited by factory farms today.

~ Farm Sanctuary

…Ok, so we were pushed into this tradition of serving up turkey, so why not opt out? We have plenty of information about the truth of factory farming and the ill affects of meat in our diets. While Thanksgiving might not be the day for optimal healthy eating, it can still be held consciously and kindly.

I have learned one thing throughout the past few years being vegan, which has lead me to actually enjoy this holiday.

HONOR SELF.

GO WHERE YOU ARE CELEBRATED, NOT JUST TOLERATED. And that is a general lesson. Life is too short and just because most of society celebrates one way, figure out a way that makes you happy. Or find a compromise. It’s a tough holiday for an ethically minded vegan. No doubt about it.

I am excited to be hosting Thanksgiving this year for my husband, my son and a dear friend and her daughter (who are new to choosing vegan). We have decided to compromise by enjoying a kind holiday feast and then head separately to our family’s homes for dessert.

Dessert is easy to veganize and bring along quietly, without anyone even suspecting a thing, and dessert makes everyone happy. See? I don’t give family a reason to antagonize me about my Tofurkey, nor do I have to listen to them rave about how juicy their dead bird is this year, compared to last.

Being thankful for the life and abundance we are given is not dependent upon how juicy the turkey is. It’s just not. But sadly it has come to something like this here in the USA.

Actually, I don’t do Tofurkey.  But I appreciate the alternative choice that it represents. Maybe I cooked it wrong? Who knows? It didn’t turn out well for me. I love all the newer options from Gardein and Field Roast.

I put together a list of home cooked meal ideas for you from around the internet. I have found some wonderful main dishes that not only have the traditional flavors of the holiday, but are appealing to the senses.

Meat free main dishes are important and take more effort to plan out. Side dishes and desserts are easy. Many of which are your own family traditional recipes that are surprisingly easy to veganize with some thoughtful substitutions like earth balance in place of butter, egg replacers, and your choice of non dairy milks that are on the market.

A main dish on our plate expressing the idea of something special is what I was looking for, not every day meal kinda stuff. I am also not worrying about perfect “healthy” oil free dishes for the holiday. After all, in general, it is a holiday known for a few more heart attacks. Shame on society. But luckily for us with a vegan menu, nothing in these main dishes would send you to the emergency room. See? Peace of mind… and heart.

Ok, here we go…

24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based/Vegan Main Dishes

1. Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales with Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy – This is my favorite! I have made this recipe twice. Beautiful presentation, with all the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving.

2. Baked Acorn Squash with Chestnuts, Apples and Leeks – I might be making this one.Looks like a winner!

3. Sweet Potato Lenti Pie – Adorable single serving pies  with good combination of textures.

4. Butternut Squash Ravioli with Garlic and Sage Sauce – A recipe I have wanted to try for a while now

5. Seitan Roulade with Chestnut Stuffing – Unique and sure to impress

6. Flaky Harvest Vegetable Squares – Be sure to brush with olive oil instead of egg

7. Baked Apples with Wild Rice and Quinoa – Make sure the mushroom broth is vegan, sub vegan cream cheese and ditch the optional cheddar. I am sure these will be fabulous.

8. Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna – My Dad made this one recently. It’s a little bit of work but worth it!!!

9. Maple and Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash with Tofu, Raisins and Walnuts – This is one of my personal creations. It will fill your home with the best aromas, very inviting for your guests this holiday

10. Jeni’s Lentil and Mushroom Loaf with Savory Potato Filling – A lot of fun textures and a nice meal centerpiece

11. Nava’s Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie – It’s all in one for a simpler holiday. Very pretty.

12. Millet Loaf – I love millet! I am thinking to add sage and pecans in place of sunflower seeds on this one.

13. Celebration Pot Pie with Pumpkin Biscuit Crust – Wonderful and comforting. I know my son would LOVE this one!

14. The Smoky Tofu Sweet Potato Stacker – Looks impressive with different textures. Reminds me of a Cheescake Factory dish.

15. Harvest Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms Beautiful

16. Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms – Another Portabello recipe. Portabellos are hearty. Use baby or large mushrooms for this.

17. Tofu Stuffed with Brown Rice and Mushroom Dressing – Another hit from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

18. Squashducken – Elegant and sophisticated but remember to substitute Earth Balance for the Butter

19. Black Bean and Pecan Butter Sauce over Grilled Eggplant and Sauteed Spinach – Gorgeous and another “meaty” texture like portabellos.

20. Holiday Ham Recipe from Caribbean Vegan – Festive!

21. Pineapple Glazed “Ham” – I have always wanted to try this recipe. It looks so pretty on the platter.

22. Field Roast Celebration Roast – A store bought vegan roast, but I like this company! Their other products taste great so this is bound to as well. Definitely not gluten free.

23.  Currant-Maple Citrus loaf – Which is just a Celebration Roast (above) with Zest! Looks much prettier than the plain roast.

24. Holiday Roast by gardein – Who doesn’t love gardein? It’s sure to be wonderful for someone who doesn’t want to fuss. They also have single servings for those having a low key celebration.

 …And I bet I could find a million more great recipes out there. One thing a vegan has is an abundance of great food!

I love to see photos of food! You can view the wonderful mouth watering photos of all these links  here on my Pinterest page. Follow me there as well. I will be adding more photos and a part 2 blog post with side dishes and desserts in just a few days, so be sure to check back!

Check out these wonderful short videos, both turkey rescues that will warm your heart and remind you that there are good people out there in the world.

Rescued Turkeys

Turkey Rescue

Here is a heart warming family documentary to watch that will change your views forever about wild turkeys, watch this PBS special “My Life as a Turkey” by Joe Hutto  I felt that it was really touching and well done.

My Life as a Turkey

“The symbolism surrounding the Thanksgiving turkey, much like the modern domestic turkey himself, has been largely manufactured by cynical commercial interests. There is neither compelling historical precedent nor meaningful rationale for associating the butchered carcass of a turkey with our national day of thanksgiving.”

~ Farm Sanctuary


Read more about the history of Thanksgiving here

See all of these recipes in one easy place on Pinterest

Enjoy the journey,

~The Karmatarian

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