I absolutely love holidays…well, to be fair, most people love holidays, so that’s not really much of an opening line. But what I have come to love about the holidays more than anything else is the fun of preparing and enjoying delicious, healthy vegan food for (and often with) my loved ones. I didn’t really appreciate the ritual of this until a few years back when I REALLY started to enjoy cooking. Now these meals are license to pull out all the plans and get creative. This Thanksgiving was no different.
I always have to chuckle a little when people ask me – usually either incredulous or sympathetic – “but what do you DO for holiday meals?” They can’t imagine how a feast can happen without an animal at the centrepiece. And perhaps that’s why I love these meals so much. Because it’s a reminder to me that our meals throughout the year have become something different. They’re a celebration of delicious, healthy food that harms no one. Even our amazing holiday meals are respectful not only of our own health and bodies, but also of other animals and the earth as well. Every Vegan Thanksgiving, I feel grateful for the awareness of the fact that we are here to share the earth with all its inhabitants, not to dominate or exploit. And so, on to the food!
I often build our holiday feasts around some kind of festive tart, pot pie or maybe even a nut loaf, but this year I wanted to try something different. I came across a recipe for breaded tempeh, and thought, I could do that! But the recipe I found basically just breaded and pan fried it, and I didn’t think that would be flavourful enough, so I decided to braise it first (in a maple-tamari-orange sauce), then coated it in pumpkin seed-breaded mix, and pan fried it. It was delicious. Light and tasty, with a delicate maple-orange flavour.
Next, I decided to include a couple of colourful roasted vegetable salads. A friend volunteered to bring this lovely Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Maple-Cayenne Dressing:
so I decided on something orange, and I knew just the thing – this Roasted Sweet Potato Salad recipe that I had seen the previous week. I used yams instead of sweet potatoes, and this salad has been put on my holiday favourites list!
Some pull-apart rolls were a special treat. I made them from this easy recipe from Oh She Glows – thanks Angela! These rolls were light, fluffy – melt in your mouth!
And what is a holiday dinner without cranberry sauce? Our friends brought some (and I forgot to take a photo) – with cranberries grown in their own garden – simple and delicious! Just enough of a flavour and colour contrast that, with some fresh greens to round out the plate, it was perfect.
For dessert we had not one, but TWO kinds of pie. Friends brought a vegan pumpkin pie, and I made this vegan pecan pie. There truly was no chance of anyone going home hungry.
So there you have it! Our Vegan Thanksgiving meal for this year. If you are looking forward to a vegan holiday meal for the first time, I hope this provides encouragement and maybe some ideas. Two sites I often draw inspiration and ideas from are Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Kitchen and Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows. Here are their Thanksgiving lineups, just to give you even more options:
Plant-Powered Kitchen: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/healthy-vegan-thanksgiving-recipes/