It’s that time of the year again, the smell of cheese ball and Aunt Betty’s infamous bacon wrapped shrimp is floating in the air. If you are trying to eat a more whole foods plant-based diet the holiday season can certainly be a challenge. But don’t let the festivities of the season discourage you from trying to eat more plants. Afterall, it’s the overall eating pattern, not the few special occasions and family get-togethers, that is going to prevent you from ending up on an open heart surgery operating table.
So how to manage such a tempestuous time?
START WITH THE BASICS
Go for simple swaps. If your holiday dish calls for cows milk opt for an alternative plant-based milk like almond or soy. No one will notice that you made the creamy garlic mashed potatoes with vegan butter and almond milk. Canned coconut milk is a great alternative if you need to make whipping cream or thicken up a mushroom gravy or soup.
Try a new dish
Let’s be honest, some of the classic holiday dishes could use a revamp. It wouldn’t hurt to mix things up a bit and sub out the green bean casserole or canned cranberry sauce for a new recipe. Try out a Mediterranean farro salad or a roasted chickpea & sweet potato salad. Instead of cheese ball try out a pumpkin spiced hummus dip or a spinach artichoke dip made with tofu (my all time favorite). Classic holiday dishes can all be remade into vegan friendly versions. Tofurky anyone? Our family will be making plant-based versions of all of the classic dishes and having our family members, who want to eat meat, bring the turkey and ribs. Find some inspiration from this list of vegan Thanksgiving menu items.
Vegan baking 101
For baking, I suggest downloading a plant-based ingredient substitution chart that can be found under my resources tab. If a recipe calls for eggs you can substitute it for a “flax egg“, one tablespoon of ground flaxseed (an excellent source of omega 3s) and 2.5 tablespoons of water. Dairy free chocolate chips, raw cacao powder, coconut cream and an arsenal of raw nuts can make a slew of mouth watering vegan desserts. Check out this vegan holiday dessert list by the Minimalist Baker.
Do your best & don’t sweat the small stuff
Plant-based eating during the holidays can be challenging but don’t let a few dinner parties derail your efforts thus far. After all, it’s the overall eating pattern that really matters and will result in long term health. If you know there won’t be a lot of plant-based foods to eat, bring your own dishes that you can fill the majority of your plate with. Seek out the whole grains and starchy vegetables on the table, like mashed potatoes, rice or pasta pasta dishes, to keep you full and satiated.
Most importantly, it’s a time to connect and spend quality time with our loved ones and family members. Food just happens to be the ingredient that binds us all together. Hopefully this season, we can all enjoy our time together with a few delicious plant-based meals that will help keep our families together for many more years to come.