Posts tagged Vegan Thanksgiving

A Must See Heart Warming Turkey Rescue

 All I know, is that if I were a turkey, Karen Dawn can rescue me anytime! Her amazing voice can put me right into a trance. She reminds me of Snow White, but who is now all grown up, living in CA and rescuing some very LUCKY turkeys every Thanksgiving. What an inspiration!

This video hits home, as once upon a time, I had a Cockatiel named Sunny Bird who lived with me for 15 years. He showed me first hand how smart and sensitive birds can be. His favorite thing to do was enjoy a warm blow dry after a spa treatment ;) So I know that feeling of caring for God’s special animals. There is little that is more rewarding than helping to make someone feel safe, happy and loved. Sunny Bird would close his little brown eyes and just sit there, just like the turkey in the video, until he was all dry. I miss that little guy. 

My Sunny Bird

Memories of blow drying Sunny bird is the closest I will get to rescuing a turkey this year, well, if you don’t count our adopted Turkey from Farm Sanctuary. We love doing that every year!

I hope Karen’s video inspires you to have a kinder holiday season and to inspire those around you. Maybe it helps to see turkeys in a different light?

I have never enjoyed Thanksgiving as much as I do now. It took having that little something more to celebrate which is bigger than myself, to realize how much more meaningful it can be. I love celebrating life.  I know per history we are supposed to be celebrating having food to eat, but luckily most of us never have known what it’s like to not have food to eat. So without knowing that contrast, the genuine grateful feeling can come from showing mercy to another by not cooking it and shoving stuffing up it’s arse. I know this contrast well, because as a researching vegan, I see the horrors on a daily basis. It’s definitely kindness that makes this holiday special now. Heck, it makes every meal special. I am sorry to say, that I haven’t always shown mercy, but I didn’t know better back then. Now I do and act on it. One day, when I get to those pearly gates, I certainly hope to be forgiven.

What’s on the menu this year?

Well, we will enjoy a mini feast starting with cranberry pesto crostini, a wonderful green salad with avocado, cranberry, almonds, chopped apples and balsamic dressing. A gardein stuffed roast, orange grand marnier cranberry sauce, garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, rosemary and garlic green beans, sweet potato casserole with pecans and then if there is any room left, we will stuff in some pumpkin pie topped with coconut whipped cream. Boy, I better get started in the kitchen , huh?  One thing is for sure, we LOVE food around here and are grateful for every delicious vegan bite.

If you need any recipe ideas, perhaps being a last minute throw it together kind of person like myself (I still haven’t gone grocery shopping… that’s tonight’s adventure right after I post this) check out my Pinterest Holiday Table or these old posts from last year:

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

New Traditions Part 2: Holiday Side Dishes and Our Thanksgiving Menu

My Thanksgiving Review

I hope you have a wonderful and kind Thanksgiving!

~The Karmatarian

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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 Part 2: Holiday Side Dishes and Our Thanksgiving Menu

(Photo Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary) Adopt a Turkey this Year and Start a New Tradtion. Visit http://www.FarmSanctuary.org

“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?”~ Edgar’s Mission

I’d like to add… and eat awesome food!!! I spent the entire day yesterday pinning more side dishes and desserts up on my Pinterest page! I was also planning our menu for Thanksgiving. I think I have it nailed down. There are just so many amazing vegan dishes to choose from that it took some time! If anyone claims a vegan diet is boring then they don’t know food and they certainly don’t know how to cook. Luckily it’s a learned skill. You can do it! Take a look at my Vegan Holiday Table board. I’m drooling!

I am not going to list all of the side dishes that I found, that will take too much time and I really just want to get a quick post out. So I am going to share my Thanksgiving menu with you. I am so excited!!

Here goes…

Appetizers:

Cranberry Walnut Pesto Crostini- Festive and delicious. The original recipe is on my Pinterest page under Pumpkin Gnocchi with Cranberry Walnut Pesto. It can’t be found right now because the website seems to be down. I have the recipe. If you are interested, let me know in the comments and I will share it with you. I plan to do crostini with this pesto or serve with delicious crackers. Although it would be good with a spoon alone! I made the gnocchi and it was an epic fail. This pesto turned out to be my favorite though and it’s so pretty!

Traditional Stuffed Mushrooms – You know, the smaller mushrooms with the crunchy, buttery flavored bread crumb filling with  flavors of garlic, basil and parsley. Yum!

Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip – I love the idea of cashews here.  Looks creamy and delicious. How will we ever make room for dinner?

Soup:

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup –  This is the closest recipe I could find to the one I am actually making. This one can be veganized by using margarine and vegan sour cream or using cashew cream for garnish. I am going to make the Vitamix Holiday Squash Soup. No fuss, right in the blender! I have a feeling I am going to run out of stove space so this will be perfect. Soup heats up right in the machine.

Salad:

Apple, Pecan, Cranberry and Avocado Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dressing – The picture in this link has cheese in it but it does not call for cheese in the recipe. I assure you, I won’t ruin it with cheese. This salad will be perfect, unless I run out of time… in that case, I’ll toss together mixed greens with sliced almonds and dried cranberries and top it with vegan poppy seed dressing! Voila, fast and festive and if I can’t much done ahead of time, this might actually be what happens!

Bread:

Gluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins – Can’t forget the bread, muffins or vegan crescent rolls. I tried the Trader Joe’s crescent rolls and they were a bit too sweet for my liking. I was thinking pumpkin muffins, but I don’t want to over do the pumpkin as pumpkin pie will be one of the desserts. I might make my corn muffins or just run out and grab an already baked garlic and rosemary Artisan bread. Mmmm.

Main Dishes:

Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales – A favorite! I have made this a few times for Thanksgivings past. Delicious traditional holiday flavors, great presentation!

Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy – This can be found under the same post as above. I love this gravy!

Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute  – I was shopping at Whole Foods the other day and I had to have this! Maybe I was hungry, but I just figured I would try it along with the tried and true Timbales, just in case… More food for leftovers. Because this girl is taking a break after this!

Sides:

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce – I have made this before. It’s baked, not boiled and I add orange zest. Delicious! Can be made days ahead!

Fruit and Toasted Almond Stuffing – The picture says it all. It sounds like an updated classic and there is nothing wrong with that.

Garlic and Rosemary Mashed PotatoesThis is pretty straight forward. Use vegan margarine like earth balance or the olive oil it calls for and almond milk instead of regular milk. I am imagining lot’s of leftovers. This will be perfect with the Timbales and gravy.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping – I usually make this type of casserole every year, one version or another. Vegan of course. I am thinking to add vegan marshmallows. Why not? I have some here.

Green Beans with Walnuts and Rosemary – Simple ingredients. Modernized tradition. Quick. How could you go wrong?

Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus – I am excited to veganize this with crushed walnuts and lemon zest. Olive oil or margarine instead of butter. It’s a choice between this or the green beans. I already have the phyllo in the freezer… this might be the winner. Or just make both!?

Desserts:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie with Praline and Coconut-Pecan Crust – Mom eats gluten free and since she will be here for dessert I would like to make this!

Or… Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake –  I could always make the crust from the recipe above to make it gluten free.

Raw Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Sauce – This is a recipe from the Cafe Gratitude recipe book (minus the berry sauce). I have made it before and it gave me my confidence back for making vegan cheesecake. Holy Cow is it amazing and the texture is way better than real cheesecake in my opinion.

Baked Pears with a Buttery Baked Crumble Topping –  To veganize, just use Earth Balance (margarine) and Agave instead of honey. Top this with rice whip cream. I broke down and spent the 5 dollars on rice whip a few weeks ago. It is SO GOOD. Perfect for the holidays. It’s by Soyatoo.

Well, there you have it… I think I am in over my head with this menu! But it will be so much fun. I will take a lot of pictures and share on Facebook. Thankfully, a lot of these recipes can be prepared a few days ahead. I guess I better get started. I am off to Whole Foods now…

See these photos and recipes that I have I found, visit my Pinterest page.   Also check out my last post, part 1, with many holiday main dish ideas.

I would really love to hear what vegan dishes you are serving up this year…

Happy menu planning and hoping that your holidays are gentle and kind.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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