For Thanksgiving Part 1

I've always loved sitting down to a good Thanksgiving dinner. Just because I'm vegan doesn't mean that I have to give up having a wonderful Thanksgiving day meal full of wonderful comfort food I had as a child. Most people, especially me, like this meal because of the side dishes like cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing. Vegan versions of these scrumptious sides are easy to make and so delicious you'll want to eat them again and again.

I am going to provide you with a full Thanksgiving menu and recipes that you can pick and choose from in hopes that you'll see that vegan food is not only delicious but familiar to what most Americans eat on that special Thursday during November. So, don't be afraid that you won't have any of your favorites on the Thanksgiving table if you are dining with a vegan. Part 1 will include Appetizers and Side Dishes and Part 2 will include Main Dishes and Desserts. Some of the recipes are my own, some I've had for ages and don't have references to and other's I'll site where they came from.

Here is another resource from the Vegetarian Resource Group called What Do You Do For Thanksgiving. There are great tips there for non-veg*n folks on how to adapt recipes as well as tips for families that have veg*ns and non-veg*ns...
"If the people you celebrate with are not vegetarian, propose alternating years so that every other year the feast is vegetarian/vegan. Promise to help with recipes and ideas."

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Caramelized Onion and Tempeh Dip

Sides Dishes:

Apple Sausage Dressing
Cashew Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Roasted Brussels Sprouts or Roasted Fall Vegetables
Brown Thanksgiving Gravy
Caramelized Roasted Broccoli

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe
1/2 Cup Vegan Cream Cheese like Toffuti
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (use artichokes in water not oil)
1/2 Cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
1/2 Cup Vegan Sour Cream like Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
1 Tbls garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp, pepper
1/4 tsp, salt
1/2 tsp, lemon juice

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Place in container and chill for 2 hours or longer. Serve with vegan crackers and/or cut vegetables.

Caramelized Onion and Tempeh Dip (adapted from The Complete Vegan Cookbook)
3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
3 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (8 ounces) tempeh (Light Life - 3 Grain Tempeh is my favorite but I bet the Fakin Bakin would be excellent in this recipe)
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 Tbls soy sauce
2 Tbls fresh rosemary, minced or 3 tsp dried

Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet or regular skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and reduce the heat to medium low and saute until the onions have caramelized, about 20-30 minutes. Don't let them burn and stir them occasionally. Add the tempeh, sherry, soy sauce, and rosemary and turn the heat up to medium again. Cook for 8-10 minutes letting the tempeh brown, stirring occasionally so as not to let the mixture burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place the mixture in a food processor and mix until it is a thick consistency. Place into container and chill for 2 hours or up to 3 days. Enjoy with crackers or veggies or a thick crunchy bread.

Apple Sausage Dressing (veganized from my Grandmother's recipe)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large granny smith apple, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, chopped medium
1 lb. Vegan Sausage (homemade or Gimme Lean Sausage)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 box stuffing cubes (be sure to check ingredients for animal products)
1/4 - 1/2 vegetable broth
1/2 stick Earth Balance Butter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet saute the onion, celery, and vegan sausage about 8 minutes over medium heat. Pour into large bowl and add the apple, raisins, and walnuts. Add the stuffing cubes and stir. Add the broth a little at a time to achieve the texture that you want. This dressing is best when not very wet. Put the stuffing into a greased baking dish. Dot the stuffing with earth balance butter, cover with tin foil, and bake for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Remove the cover for the last 15 minutes to slightly brown the top.

Alternatives to add when mixing in the bowl
roasted chestnuts
pine nuts
fresh cranberries

Cashew Creamy Mashed Potatoes (adapted from Conscious Cook)
Cashew Cream (used in place of soy milk)
1 cup whole raw cashews (soaked in cold water 6-12 hours)
water, coconut milk, soy milk, or rice milk to cover by 1 inch

Drain the cashews and rinse with water. Place the cashews in a blender or food processor (Vita-mix works best) and cover the cashews with a liquid by an inch. Blend on high for several minutes until the mixture is very smooth.

Mashed Potatoes - you can figure this one out!
Boil your favorite potatoes (skin on or skin off) and drain. Mix with cashew cream and 2 Tbls Earth Balance Butter and some salt and pepper. I love to use my Potato Ricer when making mashed potatoes, it's simply the best at getting them smooth and fluffy!

Sweet Potato Biscuits (adapted from The Vegetarian's Mother's Cookbook)
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 Tbls baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbls Earth Balance Butter
1 cup masshed sweet potato (1 sweet potato, peeled, chopped and boiled for 10 minutes or until soft)
1/4 nondairy milk (Rice, Soy, Coconut)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Put the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and use a whisk to stir it around. Cut in the butter by using a knife and mixing or using your hands. I use my hands it's more fun. You are looking for the consistency of a course meal. Mix in the cold mashed sweet potato and nondairy milk and mix until combined. Again, you can use your hands. Flour some counter space and push the dough out and use a biscuit cutter to cut out your biscuits and place then on a pan. Cook for 20-25 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine)
2 pounds of brussels sprouts (small ones that are firm and closed if you can) cut in half and bottom trimmed off.
3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbls maple syrup
2 Tbls Earth Balance Butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl combine the brussels sprouts with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Put onto a pan and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. When soft enough to pierce with a fork put back into the bowl and mix in the maple syrup and vegan butter. YUM!

Roasted Fall Vegetables
4 beets, peeled and chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
10-12 garlic cloves (taken out of paper)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3-4 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbls Maple Sryup
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything in a bowl and then place on a baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes. The vegetables are finished when a fork can be easily pierced through it.

Brown Thanksgiving Gravy (the absolute best gravy in the world! Vegan Vittles)
1/2 cup flour (any flour will do and you can even use gluten free flour)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
3 cups vegetable broth
4 Tbls soy sauce
1 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper

In a 4 cup glass measuring cup mix vegetable broth, soy sauce, and olive oil together. In a large sauce pan whisk the flour and nutritional yeast over medium heat until toasted about 5 minutes. Take the pan off the stove and slowly add the liquid from the glass measuring cup. You have to whisk constantly and try to get the mixture smooth so there are no lumps. I usually have my husband hold the pan while I whisk but it can be done with just one person. When the gravy is very smooth then whisk in the onion powder and pepper and put back on the heat. Cook over medium high heat (while whisking constantly) until the gravy thickens and is smooth.

Caramelized Roasted Broccoli 
2 heads of broccoli, rinsed and cut (cut the broccoli so that you cut off each smaller head and then cut those into halves. It's good to try and have a little but of stem on those. Trim off the outside of the stalks and cut those into 1-2 inch pieces)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and make sure that there is a rack on the very bottom of the oven. Mix the olive oil, salt, sugar, and garlic together in a pan and then transfer to a roasting pan. Cook on the bottom rack for 12-15 minutes stirring occasionally. The broccoli should be caramelized and cooked through.


During Halloween Part 2

Halloween has just gotten better with the addition of Sweet & Sara's Ghost and Bat Marshmallow's which can be found at their website or at Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe which also has a selection of more natural candy here.


During Halloween?

Halloween is upon us and for many of us that means candy. Some candy during the Fall season is not vegan. It is made with animal ingredients. Here is a list of the most common animal ingredients in candy and snacks. Did you know that Gelatin is
The protein derived from the bones, cartilage, tendons, skin, and other tissue of steer, calves, or pigs. It shows up in many commonplace products, including marshmallows, nonfat yogurts, ice cream, some frosted commercial breakfast cereals, puddings, jelled desserts, frozen desserts, sour cream, some commercial sauces and dressings (including many sold at fast-food restaurants), wine, juice, roasted peanuts, pill capsules, and many hair and nail products. Gelatin labeled “kosher” is sometimes vegan but not always. Vegan gelatin is typically made from a natural sea vegetable called carrageen (also known as Irish moss) and locust bean gum (from the carob tree).

But, there is a lot of candy that is vegan. Just take a look at this extensive list from Peta Kids. And Whole Foods Market is now selling prepackaged candy for trick or treating. In our stores they are selling pretzels and Bunny Fruit snacks which we bought to hand out this year.

Despite it's spookiness and goriness Halloween can be a compassionate time of year if you buy and eat vegan candy.

p.s. and for those of you that are sick of candy (vegan or not) by the second or third day you can do what many of my friends do....have the Halloween Fairy come and take all the candy and leave a fun festive present in return.


When Everyone Else is Eating Cows Milk Cheese

Well, we eat cheese, vegan cheese that is! Daiya is our favorite store bought vegan cheese. It is amazing and doesn't taste super sweet like many of the other vegan cheese's out there. You can find it in many grocery stores and this link helps you figure out where to buy it. It truly does melt and stretch. 

There are of course many vegan cheeses on the market, some are easier to find than others and some are worth the effort and some simply are not. I'll let you choose.

Vegan Gourmet makes many different blocks of vegan cheese and this is one of the brands that is found most readily in grocery stores. 

Sheese - I actually love this vegan cheese alternative but it's harder to find. They have a blue cheese that is great. 

Tofuti - they also have a cream cheese that I love. My local bagel shop, Bagel Time, sells this along with some of the best bagels around. 

Road's End Organics - They make packets of a dry cheese mix. My favorite though is the macaroni and cheese from Road's End. We eat it when we are low on time. I mix cut up broccoli pieces into the pasta as it is cooking. I've used soy and rice milk when making it but I have a friend that uses just water. I also use Earth Balance to make it like I did when I was a kid. 

Wayfare Foods: We Can't Say It's Cheese these are dips and I've been lucky that a grocery store near my local Whole Foods carries it. I love the hickory-smoked cheddar style because it reminds me of my days as a girl eating cheddar cheese balls covered in nuts that we used to get from Hickory Farms. 

Of course there are numerous recipes for making your own vegan cheese. Our favorites are nacho cheese sauces from Shmooed Foods the author of Vegan Lunch Box 

I made a spicy one (from the original recipe) and a non-spicy one for my boys that can't handle the heat! Here is a recipe for Macadamia Nut Cheese from Awesome to be Rawesome. Raw cashews and nutritional yeast are two ingredients that are integral to making a thick creamy vegan cheese sauce. Cashews when blended with a liquid and heated actually thicken up. Nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins and chock full of protein and it has a cheese like flavor. White beans can also offer a creamy base for cheese like flavors. Following is a montage of ways that I have used vegan cheese.


Quesadillas before they are cooked.

Macaroni and vegan cheese

Vegan Reuben

Gluten free cheese pizza