empowering your family one bite at a time

Turkey Day Without the Turkey? It can be done, and it will be yum!

I get super excited to see how other people celebrate with food. I spoke briefly about my good friend Tammy when I introduced her Mom as a contributor. This time Tammy gives us a peek into her vegetarian Thanksgiving. I love her ideas and pictures. By the way, Tammy is that person that was excitedly taking pictures of food and friends LONG before food bloggers existed. Enjoy!!

'It's just days before Thanksgiving, and how ever you plan to celebrate you're probably wondering "what am I going to eat" next Thursday?  Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude, with the feast representing the abundance in our lives.  However, Americans often forget that Thanksgiving is about being thankful and instead focus on one thing: the bird.  At worst, this can be troubling for vegetarians, and at best, challenging for those with new diets.  Good news is there's plenty of plant based, health based, foods for our Thanksgiving feast!  I've celebrated vegetarian Thanksgivings since 1989 and I can assure you, I've never once gone hungry :-).  While I love to cook, I have also balanced my share of Thanksgiving celebrations with my work in the "about to get crazy busy" retail world!  So, here are some of my tips on how to sanely plan your veg Thanksgiving menu.

I make many of the same dishes each year, but always have to throw in a new recipe that's caught my attention as all my favorite magazines and food blogs overflow with Fall deliciousness. Here's my checklist that I use for a guideline and then fill in the blanks with the specifics I desire on any particular year:

Munchies while I cook:

  • Tons of veggies and crackers with hummus
  • Muffins / Bread (pumpkin, apple, banana all work - and all can easily be made vegan)
  • Something dark and chocolatey to keep me happy in the kitchen 😉

Dinner:

  • Salad - something harvesty like spinach and apple with walnuts
  • Soup  - perhaps a butternut squash?  And yes, usually out of a box!

or

  • Stew - 3 sisters stew from Vegetarian Times is my all time Thanksgiving favorite... easy to make the day before and super hearty and delicious! Make a double batch and it lasts for days... bonus!
  • Bread - whatever leftover from the munchies above, along with some dinner rolls to make my family happy
  • Potatoes - mashed or twice baked - both of which work great with Earth Balance and Almond Milk
  • Sweet potato something - usually an apple sweet potato casserole.  None of that marshmallow craziness in my house, but to each their own
  • Cranberry Sauce - I never shortcut on this and always make homemade but you don't have to!  Trader Joes and Whole Foods both offer an easy substitute for homemade, straight from the carton
  • Dressing (I call it dressing, as the only thing I "stuff" on my Thanksgiving is myself and my family! :-)  ) Lots of great, much healthier, recipes out there - just need to Google and find one you like
  • Another vegetable - I like fresh green beans sauteed in balsamic vinegar with a little chopped onion... yum!  Sometimes I toss on some almond slices for extra visual and nutrition umph

  • A fun "centerpiece" dish... This is where I tend to get creative.  While I've, on occasion, prepared a "Tofurky", it's really not necessary to have a turkey substitute, as there's lots of fun recipes out there - lentil / nut loafs, acorn squash stuffed with goodness, macaroni and "cheese", or butternut squash lasagna to name a few.  The other items on my menu tend to be more basic - now's your chance to get adventurous and wow your Facebook friends with your Thanksgiving meal pics!

  • Don't forget the pumpkin or apple pies!  :-)  Crust free is the way I tend to go... Or maybe just a big plate of vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to go with that after dinner cup of coffee.  YUM.

As you can see, my plan is a balance of traditional and new foods, all with a healthier plant based twist.  Once you have a plan for what works for your and your family's needs, it's easy to just run some Google searches and come up with a plan.  You'll be amazed how many recipes are out there!  Every year I have to just pick something and bookmark the rest.  You can find me wide awake and smiling after Thanksgiving at my house - no post meal blech here!  Additionally remember there's still weeks to go until the end of the year, and therefore, lots of time to try new meals while you celebrate.

Here's my plate full of Thanksgiving deliciousness from a couple years ago, taken to prove that this vegetarian did NOT go hungry! :-)

How ever you choose to spend your Thanksgiving, meat free, gluten free, dairy free or beyond, be sure to remember it's about gratitude and abundance, and encourage your family and friends to do the same!  Here's to a turkey free, turkey day!  Pass the apple cider.... clink!'

Now I'm just crazy hungry. Love these ideas!

Power to the family!

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