With the world in turmoil and Thanksgiving just around the corner, I bet that many of us are looking forward to gathering together over a nice meal, hugging our loved ones and feeling those feelings of gratitude. Most of us have so much to be thankful for and although we can choose any day of the year to acknowledge those feelings, there's something special about Thanksgiving. Although the giving of thanks is really the meaning behind this holiday, there is something historically special about the importance of the food on this day, and it has absolutely nothing to do with turkey.
The original Thanksgiving, meaning the first Thanksgiving, was actually a celebration of the harvest. Many cultures around the world have traditions like this, and it makes sense since so many things could have gone wrong with crops leaving entire villages without food. So on that first Thanksgiving, it was all about celebrating a fruitful harvest, mainly of vegetables like yams, sweet potatoes and especially corn. Hello?! Can you say vegan?! It was actually in the 1850s that a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned for the establishment of Thanksgiving as a National Holiday, and depicted a menu that would then be served for hundreds of years in millions of tables across the United States. It was Sarah Hale who first envisioned the center of the table as holding a giant roasted turkey and sides like cranberry sauce, none of which seem to have been present in the original Thanksgiving feast.
Why am I telling you all this? Because traditions are created by us and often change over the years. We can decide what goes on the table or stays out of it. For me it isn't about the turkey, although I must tell you that I cooked and served many over the years and I prided myself on being the one designated to always cook it using my very own recipe. Oh boy do things change! What it really is about though, is that long and delicious preparation of the food. Even if you're not much of a cook, I bet that what you love about the Holidays is walking into your family's kitchen early in the morning and seeing everyone working away, you start getting excited and you can smell those beautiful traditional smells filling your home. For me Thanksgiving is as much about sitting down to eat with family as it is to slowly prepare the food and make all the traditional fixings. Yes, I'm going to teach you how to make all of them vegan! Yes, you can have your vegan roast and eat it too!
We've created a very special compilation of our favorite videos so far, with recipes to many classics, perfect for the Holidays, and we've gathered them all up for you in one easy to access section!
Although you have plenty to choose from there when it comes to full recipes, here are some easy vegan substitutions so you can adapt old-time favorites and make them healthier and vegan:
- Substitute creams and dairy milks for non-dairy milks. Now there are so many to choose from, from almond and soy, to quinoa, hemp, oat, coconut, macadamia, hazelnut, sesame, rice and countless others.
- Substitute dairy based butter for non-dairy butter for the same effect and result. Always try buying a non-hydrogenated variety.
- Use vegetable broth instead of beef or chicken broth.
- Watch our video below that will teach you all about egg replacers in baking!
- For binding or thickening savory dishes, use ground flaxseeds combined with water (1 tablespoon flax to 3 of water), arrowroot powder, cornstarch or tapioca starch.
- Visit a health food store and buy simple substitutions like vegan graham crackers for pie or cheesecake bases, egg replacers for baking cookies, eggless mayonnaise, and all sorts of vegan products from cheeses to patés, to meaty alternatives.
What about some ideas for dishes and alternatives to the classics:
- Buy a ready made vegan roast from brands that are making the most unbelievable and healthy meat alternatives like Field Roast, Gardein or Tofurky.
- Make your own roasts at home by making your own seitan (a vegan meat you can make from scratch using gluten).
- Make other meaty and easy treats for feeding a crowd like meatloaf or meatballs made with lentils, walnuts, mushrooms or tofu, tempeh or seitan.
- Use these yummy savory fillings to fill puff pastry or phyllo dough for a very elegant presentation.
- Make stuffing with your favorite bread, root vegetables, lots of onion and roasted garlic, some dried fruit or grapes, herbs and vegetable broth (yup! no need to stuff it in a bird to make it come out delicious!).
- Make delicious salads with ingredients that are typical of the season like pecans, kale, dried cranberries, hazelnuts, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and so many others.
- Make a simple tray of roasted vegetables like brussels sprouts, asparagus, garlic, shallots, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, celery root and others,
- If you're like me you're all about those classic starchy sides! Garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato purée or casseroles with vegan marshmallows, or root vegetables caramelized in the oven with some balsamic vinegar and maple syrup for the most decadent treat.
- It's also all about the sauces! Cranberry sauce is vegan by default, and you can make the simple substitutions above to make a red wine gravy, creamy mushroom gravy, a simple pan gravy with shallots and garlic, or a berry and red wine balsamic glaze.
- If what you want is a nice centerpiece at the table or on every plate but want to skip the roast, make delicious rice, couscous, orzo, bulgur or quinoa pilafs and stuff a pumpkin or mini pumpkins like we did in our youtube video for stuffed pumpkins with a sage bulgur fall filling and creamy mushroom sauce.These are beautiful and so festive.
- You've got to have dessert! Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, sweet potato pie, apple strudel, chocolate tarts, plum clafoutis, pumpkin cheesecake. They can all be made vegan and no one will ever know the difference!
We want to make vegan cooking as easy and as fun as possible for you, which is why we created our online membership program, where you can learn all our tips and tricks, get support, and have all your delicious recipes and meal ideas in one place and never again have to go hunting for hours for the perfect recipe.