Kind Alternatives for Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

Kind Alternatives for Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday.  A day dedicated to being grateful and celebrated by enjoying yummy, comfort food with family and friends.  Oh, and there is football and pumpkin pie!  Also, no ridiculous gift expectations.  Thanksgiving is my kind of day.  Well…except for the little fact that most American households celebrate Thanksgiving by cooking and eating a big turkey.  Over a decade ago I made the decision that killing and eating of other beings was not something I wanted to partake in anymore.  Yet, I was still determined to not let this lifestyle choice ruin my enjoyment of things like holiday celebrations.  I have since been on a mission to master my cruelty-free Thanksgiving feast. 

What I’ve discovered is that I can make equally (if not more) satisfying “kind” versions of all my favorite classic dishes.  The only difference now is that the turkey is in my heart instead of my stomach (ok, that was super sappy haha!).  A quick search online will also provide an endless list of new harvest-style vegetarian recipes that are fulfilling.  There are several companies that now offer their variation of a holiday “roast” alternatives, such as Tofurky and Field Roast.  I have a hunch a lot of these “roasts” get purchased by well-meaning loved ones who are looking for a quick solution as to what to serve their vegetarian/vegan family members they invited to holiday dinner.  I personally don’t really enjoy eating a processed, packaged or premade dish for my holiday meal.  With just a few small alterations and alternatives, great homemade holiday dishes can be made vegetarian/vegan friendly without sacrificing flavor.

Onions and Celery

Below I’ve included the recipes for the three classic dishes that I make every year for the holidays: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing.  These dishes have been real crowd-pleasers for me.  I get requests for the recipes and to make these dishes every year.  All of the ingredients listed below are easily found at nearly any grocery store. These recipes are not necessarily healthy… but they are just as satisfying as what you grew up with, just minus the animal products.  I usually try out one new additional veggie recipe each year as well to add more color and variety to the meal.  With some mushroom gravy and your favorite dinner roll, you have a very filling and cruelty-free Thanksgiving meal.  For pre-dinner grazing, I like to put out a spread of hummus, mushroom/olive “pate”, veggie sticks, crackers, roasted pumpkin seeds and nuts.  Also, in case you’re wondering, vegan pumpkin pie is a thing and tastes just like the dairy version.  If you have any awesome plant-based holiday recipes that you recommend, please share in the comments!  #savetheturkeys

Thanksgiving Dinner

Jenni’s Famous Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 Large Garlic Bulb
  • 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3-4 Pounds Yukon or Russet Potatoes – Scrubbed, Peeled and Cubed
  • 1 Cup Dairy-Free Milk Alternative (make sure you use unsweetened, non-vanilla flavored)
  • 8 oz Dairy-Free Butter (I prefer Earth Balance)
  • Salt and Pepper, to take (I suggest “generously”)

1. Place whole garlic bulb on a square of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and fold up foil to create tent.  Roast at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or so.  Garlic will be very fragrant when ready.

2. Boil large pot of water, salt and add potato cubes.  Cook for about 15 minutes until tender and easy to puncture with a fork.

3. Drain potatoes and then return to warm pot.  Cut the roasted garlic bulb in half and use the knife to squish the garlic cloves out of the skins.  Combine all the ingredients in potato pot.  I recommend adding only part of the milk alternative at first and then adding more as needed while mixing until you get the consistency you like.  Whip with hand mixer until creamy and without clumps.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Note: This year I mixed it up a little and added a small bunch of sautéed kale to the mix.   

Mashed Potatoes

 

Classic Green Bean Casserole (Vegan)

  • 1 Pound of Green Beans – Cleaned, Trimmed and Halved
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Dairy-Free Butter (I prefer Earth Balance)
  • 1 Large Shallot – Minced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – Minced
  • 1 Cup Mushrooms – Chopped Small
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • ¾ Cup Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Cup Dairy-Free Milk Alternative (make sure you use unsweetened, non-vanilla flavored)
  • 1-1/2 Cup (or more) Crispy Fried Onions (make sure to verify the ingredients are vegan)*

1. Preheat your oven for 400 degrees.  Boil salted water for green beans.  Cook beans for 5 minutes.  Drain and place in an ice water bath.

2. In a large skillet, heat butter, garlic and shallots over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.  Salt and pepper and cook until fragrant.

3. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

4. Sprinkle in flour and stir to coat mushroom mixture.  Cook for another minute and then add in veggie stock.

5.  Whisk in milk alternative, add more salt and pepper. Allow to thicken for about 7 minutes.  You may need to reduce the heat for this.

6. Remove from heat and mix in ½ cup of crispy onions.  Combine with drained, cooled green beans in an oven safe dish.   Sprinkle remaining cup or so of crispy onions evenly over the top.  Bake for 15 minutes.

*My favorite crispy fried onions are the Trader Joe’s brand.  They are labeled vegan on the tin.  Trader Joe’s only carries these during the holiday months so I always stock up.

Green Bean Casserole

 

Mom’s Wild Rice Stuffing (Veganized)

  • 1 Cup Cooked Wild Rice
  • 1-1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Pound (or so) Seasoned Crusty Bread Crumbs* (make sure there is no dairy in the ingredients list)
  • 1/2 Cup Dairy-Free Butter (I prefer Earth Balance) - halved
  • 2 Cups Onions – Diced
  • 2 Cups Celery – Diced
  • 2 Cups Apples – Diced (I like to use Honey Crisp)
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Broth
  • Optional: Field Roast “Sausage”, cooked – Cut in to bite sized pieces and sautéed until crispy

1. Preheat the oven for 450 degrees.  Melt ¼ cup of butter in large skillet over medium heat.

2. Cook onions and celery for about 8 minutes. 

3. Add apples and cook for 5 minutes.  Salt and pepper and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

4. Toss mixture in large bowl with cooked rice and bread crumbs (and Field Roast).

5. Butter a shallow baking dish (approx. 9”x13”).  Pour in bread mixture and spread evenly.

6. Drizzle bread mixture with veggie stock and remained 1/4 cup of butter melted.  Cover with foil.

7. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes until bread is crispy on top.

*The key to perfecting this dish recipe is to use really good bread crumbs.  I prefer the big rustic bread chunk kinds.  I’ve had the best results from the stuffing bread mixes that are offered by local bakeries this time of year.  Paying a bit more for quality bread is so worth it with this one.

Stuffing
 Some of my favorite vegan ingredients to have on hand.   

Some of my favorite vegan ingredients to have on hand.

 

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