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Hosting a Vegan Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving stirs up warm memories of loved ones gathered around a smorgasbord of comfort food. But maybe you're looking for a healthier alternative this year. Why not try something different and provide some vegan options? Many vegan recipes are also allergy-friendly and yield a lower glycemic index (better for diabetics), so they can often accommodate a crowd with diverse dietary needs, without compromising flavor! I promise, they all taste amazing! And just like you can "sneak" healthier fare into your kid's food, you may be able to just serve some of these without revealing just how healthy they are. I'll be helping with the cooking this year and have been drooling over these dishes but will probably narrow it down to the following menu:

  • Thanksgiving Towers - Presentation is everything! Pile on the layers for a fancier feel. Try starting with a base of balsamic glazed green beans, followed by millet chive garlic mash-up, pecan crusted seitan, then topped off with a hearty mushroom gravy and caramelized onions.

  • Green beans with Caramelized onions and walnuts [link to - Feel free to experiment a little and tweak or combine recipes - in this case, I'd consider adding a dash of balsamic vinegar for added flavor.
  • Millet Chive Garlic Mash-up - Millet is a healthy whole grain that's also gluten-free. If this recipe seems a little too extreme, try mixing it with a variation of mashed potatoes that sneaks in cauliflower for added health benefits without sacrificing taste.
  • Pecan crusted seitan - Seitan (pronounced "say-tan") packs a protein punch and is a popular trade-in for meat in the vegan community. Note, however, that seitan is not gluten-free, so if anybody has any gluten intolerances, consider a different option.
  • Mushroom gravy - Make this from scratch (swap the butter with Earth Balance, which contains no hydrogenated oils or trans fats), or save yourself a step and buy mushroom gravy at the store.
  • Mulled Apple Cider - Brew this cider with spices in your crock pot and it will infuse the air with a warm, inviting scent your guests will love as they enter your home. For adults 21+, feel free to add a hint of bourbon.

  • Chocolate-Pumpkin Pizookie (picture above) with Vanilla "Ice Milk" - Some people don't like pumpkin pie, but everyone I know loves chocolate chip cookies. This recipe combines the two into a delicious, moist deep dish "pizza" with secret undetectable ingredients such as heart healthy beans and oats (it's gluten-free too!).

If you already have tried-and-true recipes your family loves, you could also try using those same recipes but making a few vegan swaps (for example, try Soy Free Earth Balance instead of butter, or almond or rice milk in place of dairy milk).

Between the gluttony and football/holiday programming, sometimes the true meaning of the holiday, giving thanks, gets lost in the shuffle! Here at the office, our "House Party family" will be bringing in canned goods to donate locally. Perhaps you'd also like to start this tradition with your family, or participate in another form of giving back, like Meals on Wheels or making a donation to Feeding America. You can find other great activities for giving thanks here.

Have any favorite vegan recipes for Thanksgiving? Share them here.

You can also find a lot of other great resources on the net, like these tips from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, a well-known expert and author in the vegan community:

 

The 4-1-1 on Larry Vollmer

Thanksgiving survival: Meal planning and stress management