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Happy (Healthy!) Holidays!
Michelle Larson-Sadler

The holidays are just around the corner! With more people transitioning toward a plant-based diet, increasing numbers will enjoy the bounties of the fall harvest without animal products at the center of the table - or the plate.

Plant-based holiday entertaining tips

If you prepare the holiday meal, don’t let your feast be a “surprise” (or shock!) to guests who may not share your dietary choices. Channel the focus from what you don’t have on the table to what you do have in the company of family and friends.

If you plan to have a meat-free meal, or one free of all animal products, explain your intentions to your guests in advance. If asked, or even challenged, about the reason for your choices, keep the explanation simple, light, and positive. Don’t let family holidays dissolve into family feuds!

If you are expecting your guests to contribute to the meal, be available as a resource for ideas and recipes if they are stumped…perhaps by sharing with them a couple of the delicious recipes located below!

Cooking for a crowd

Keep your recipes simple! Recipes with a few, high-quality ingredients can be as big a taste adventure as complicated recipes with a lot of ingredients. Long ingredient lists translate to a meal that is exhausting for the cook and for your pocketbook!

If you plan a gathering for a large group of people, consider a holiday potluck. Ask your guests to bring an ingredient list for their dish so others can make informed food choices. Better yet, ask them to bring a copy of their recipe to share with others!

Recipes Wild Rice Confetti makes 9 main dish servings or 18 side dish servings

1 ½ cups uncooked wild rice
3 cups uncooked long grain or brown basmati rice
1 1/2 cups uncooked japonica or wehani rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, finely chopped
2 large green bell peppers, finely chopped
1 cup cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
1 cup slivered almonds
1 pound bag frozen peas
3 quarts water or vegetable stock

Cook rice in water or vegetable stock until water is absorbed. Prepare vegetables. Saute onions, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms in olive oil until soft and translucent. Combine all ingredients and toss well. Great as a side dish, or as the stuffing for a winter squash.

Faux Turkey Breast makes 10-12 “breasts”

4 packages tempeh
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
¼ cup soybean or canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups water
¼ cup mellow white miso
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
5 packages extra firm, water-packed tofu

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a skillet over medium heat, brown both sides of the tempeh in sesame oil. Let tempeh cool; then cut into small cubes and crumble to the consistency of bread crumbs. Saute onions in canola or soybean oil for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add fresh and dried herbs, black pepper, crumbled tempeh, and water and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Add miso and mustard to the mixture and mix well.

Crumble tofu in a large bowl, add the cooked tempeh mixture to the tofu, and combine together. Shape 1/2 cup of this mixture to resemble a turkey breast, about 2” wide and 4”-5” inches in length. Brush each “breast” with canola or soybean oil and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, and brown the “breasts” by setting the oven at the broil setting for the last 5 minutes of baking. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving. Recipe derived from Delicious magazine, November 1997.

Timeline for Planning Your Feast 3-4 Weeks Before 2 Weeks Before 1 Week Before 1 or 2 Days Before The Morning of Your Holiday Event 30 Minutes Before Guests Arrive Arrival and Mealtime