Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Mostly Vegan Thanksgiving Menu

So it has been almost a year since I have had meat and 2 months since I have had dairy and eggs.  Well, I should clarify that I may have had muffins or other baked goods at the homes of friends… here and there and I am sure those ingredients were in there ( I don’t want my food convictions to break fellowship with people-lesson learned that from a friend).  Anyhow, I gave up my beloved nonfat mistos and my occasional egg breakfasts.  I have just read too much this year… seen a few more documentaries… etc. that has enabled me to move onto a different, vegan (?) journey. 

My goal is to eat and provide in my household a “strict”, whole food,  plant-based diet.  Though, in regards to the holidays,  I always told myself that I would have meat at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.   Well, as those holidays were coming upon us, I wasn’t sure if I could eat the turkey… oh, this has caused me sooo much turmoil!  I LOVE Thanksgiving and Christmas (I start listening to Christmas music in October—sad, I know…).  Having these holiday dinners without turkey just seemed so untraditional!  “… But, I just can’t do it… but it is not the same without it… but I can’t…” this is what was going on in my head for a few weeks!  So with all this inner dialogue and conflict, I decided that having the turkey was OK, especially since it was causing unnecessary stress.  I mean, it is just this one time (and maybe Christmas).  I was planning a trip out of town just so I didn’t have to think about making a meal—ridiculous.

I decided to have the turkey dinner, 2 days before Thanksgiving.  Getting a local, organic, free-range turkey was out of the question. I had friends checking in Northern VA for me… our Kroger’s, local health grocery stores were out.  Ironic…haha. That day I was checking my email and came across a Forks Over Knives (documentary sensation) newsletter update with a Vegan Thanksgiving Menu.  I quickly viewed it over on my phone as I was shopping in Kroger.  I bought the ingredients I didn’t have and went home.

2 days later, the below is what we had for dinner tonight.  The first 5 recipes are from Forks Over Knives.  I tweaked the recipes here and there… the originals have been cited with their website.  The last recipe is from the food editor and show, Ask Aida—I got the Pecan Pumpkin No Crust Pie recipe (mine with walnuts) a few years ago and had changed a few things as well.  I have made this no crust pie many, many times, and it just keeps getting better and better.  My little Brinley loves it… it is dairy free, but it still has eggs (free-range, organic of course!).

The one thing I would add to the first 5 recipes is lots of garlic and maybe a pinch of salt, here and there…. J Let me know your thoughts! Try them out… enjoy!

-Stuffed Acorn Squash
-Fall Harvest Chowder
-Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts with Maple Mustard Dressing
-Tempeh Italiano
-Berry Apple Relish
-Walnut Crunch Pumpkin No Crust Pie (Dairy free, but still has eggs!)

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 4
4 medium-sized acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 medium celery stalks, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
[1/4] cup plus 3 [3/4] water or vegetable broth
[3/4] cup wild rice, cooked
[3/4] cup brown rice, cooked
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. poultry seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
[1/2] tsp. dried sage
Ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place squash halves, cut side down, on 1 or 2 deep baking sheets filled with an inch of water. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. When done, remove from oven, remove the water, and flip the squash so it is cut side-up.
3. In a medium pot, sauté onions, carrots, and celery in [1/4] cup water or vegetable broth until slightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Add wild rice, brown rice, mushrooms, poultry seasoning, sage, black pepper, and remaining water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and then simmer on medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.
4. Spoon rice mixture into each squash. Cover in foil and return to oven. Bake for 30-35 additional minutes, or until squash is tender. Serve warm.

*Original recipe by Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT-

Fall Harvest Chowder
Serves 8
6 cups vegetable broth or water
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 small zucchini, diced
1 (16-oz.) package frozen corn
1 large sweet potato,  peeled and diced
4 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
½ lb. of frozen spinach, thawed

1. Over medium-high heat, sauté onion, carrot, and celery in 1/2 cup vegetable broth until slightly browned, approximately 5-10 minutes.
2. Add remaining vegetables, broth or water, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaves from soup and pour into blender until mostly pureed. Add a little bit of the frozen spinach in each batch as you blend. Pour back into pot or a nice large soup serving bowl.

*Original recipe by Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT,-

Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts with Maple Mustard Dressing
Serves 4
1 [15-oz.] can cannellini beans, rinsed
[1/4] cup tahini
 [1/4] cup stone-ground mustard
3 TB Braggs Amino Acids
2 TB. 100% pure maple syrup
[1/4] cup nutritional yeast flakes  (great for Vitamin B12)
[1/2] cup water
1 to  ½ lb. of steamed green beans and Brussels sprouts.

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
2. Pour over steamed veggies in a casserole dish and lightly mix together.
3. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve hot.

*Recipe inspired by Chef AJ’s House Dressing-

Tempeh Italiano
Serves 4
[1/4] cup wheat-free tamari
2 TB. Balsamic vinegar
1[1/2] TB. Garlic, minced
[1/4] cup vegetable broth
1 TB. chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed a bit with your fingers
1 TB. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme 1 tsp. dried basil 1 tsp. dried oregano
[3/4] tsp. ground fennel seed
[1/2] tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 (8-oz.) pkg. tempeh, cut into quarters

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking dish with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine tamari, balsamic vinegar, garlic, vegetable broth, rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, ground fennel seed, and crushed red pepper flakes. Add tempeh cutlets, and stir well to evenly coat. Transfer tempeh cubes to the prepared cookie sheet, and spread out into a single layer.
3. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Stir tempeh with a spatula, and spread out into a single layer again. Bake for 10-15 more minutes or until tempeh is golden brown around edges. Remove from the oven. Serve hot or at room temperature as desired.

*Recipe from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking by Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, and Beverly Lynn Bennett.

Berry Apple Relish
Serves 4
1 pound fresh cranberries finely chopped
2 tart green apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped 
10 oz. package frozen blueberries, thawed and drained
[1/2] cup 100% fruit apricot jam
[1/2] cup 100% pure maple syrup
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Process the fruit ingredients in a food processor and pour into large bowl until well-combined.
2.  Mix in the remaining ingredients and pour into a deep baking dish and bake with the veggie casserole 15-20 minutes at 400, covered).  Or serve cold.

*Original recipe by Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT-

Walnut Crunch Pumpkin No Crust Pie (Dairy free, but still has eggs!)
Serves 8
3-4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter (or any vegan butter), at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can organic pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
1 cup vanilla coconut milk
4 large eggs (free-range/local)
1 cup coconut palm sugar, 1/4 divided
1 tablespoon vanilla (or bourbon)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1/4 cup spelt flour 
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1.    Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8 by 8-inch baking dish or pie plate with butter and set aside.
2.    Combine the pumpkin, coconut milk cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk until evenly combined and pour into the prepared baking dish.

Walnut Crunch Pumpkin No Crust Pie-finished product!
3.    Cut the butter into small pieces and add to a medium bowl. Stir in the walnuts, flour, maple syrup and the remaining 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and mix until it holds together somewhat but still crumbles. Scatter the topping over the pumpkin mixture and bake until the edges are puffed and the filling is set in the center, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool to room temperature.

 *Original recipe by Ask Aida 

Ready to eat!


  1. What a great post! I'm so inspired. Brad and I have considered vegetarian for a while now...I've read a lot about Vegan too. We buy organic, free-range, cage free, etc. Selah does not like meat really at all. My problem is that I feel like I don't have the time....which is why I LOVE this post. It gives me ideas and how to's! Love you sister.

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  3. Thank you! It was good, but as I said, I think some of the food needed a little bit more of a kick--more garlic! Love you too.