My First Vegan Thanksgiving

Last January I decided to become vegan. With a few people thinking I’m crazy, a lot of research, and a renewed love of cooking, I have almost made it through the year without eating any meat and almost no dairy. However, this will be my first year going through the holiday season with my dietary choices. I am completely new at dealing with the abundance of holiday parties, food, and family gatherings as a vegan so bear with me, but I will offer up my suggestions for getting through it and I welcome any from you 🙂

In my case, I come from a family of carnivores, whom I never shared that trait in common with. I’ve always been the “weird” one in the family who didn’t like the taste of meat and would opt for other things instead. So, naturally, the idea of becoming vegan was a no-brainer. So, what do you do when you are spending a few days with a family that doesn’t eat a meal unless it consists of meat and potatoes? You plan ahead. I started thinking ahead of time about what dish I could bring that would go over well with the other guests and would also be something I could eat. I made sure to ask what was going to be served so I knew which of the items I would be able to eat and what I could offer as an alternative dish. I grocery shopped. And I packed a bag of food 🙂

Trader Joe's insulated grocery bag works amazingly


What? It isn’t normal to pack your own milk, cheese, veggies, and other things when you are traveling? 😉

I don’t want to give away what I am making tomorrow, but the cheese and veggies do play a part. I figured cheese always goes over well with a picky crowd, but shhh…don’t tell them it’s vegan.

I also brought along other goodies to share!

Pumpkin butter and spiced nuts were handed out and they were a crowd pleaser. Phew! Now let’s hope they aren’t turned off by my “cheese”.

I also have a special dessert to share with everyone (recipe to come tomorrow). It went through a pretty rough drive to get to my family’s house (and may or may not have fallen on the car floor during stop and go traffic), but it arrived and is sitting prettily on the kitchen counter. No one will ever know 😉

Pumpkin Butter (adapted from Angela’s recipe)
Ingredients:
1 can pumpkin (1-29 oz can or 2-15 oz cans)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup apple juice
juice of half lemon
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (to taste)

Directions:
1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan and stir well.
2. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 mins or until it thickens. Stir frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
3. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, maple syrup, and adjust spices as necessary.
4. Once cooled, the pumpkin butter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Makes 2 pints.

Spiced Nuts (also adapted from Angela’s recipe)

Ingredients:
2 cups mixed, unsalted nuts ( I chose to use, almonds, walnuts, and cashews)
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp thyme
small pinch of cayenne pepper
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
pinch of salt
2 tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a pan with parchment paper.
2. Spread nuts out in an even layer on pan and toast in oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
3. Mix sauce by combining 1 tbsp Earth Balance, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, thyme, rosemary, and cayenne pepper.
4. Transfer nuts to a large bowl and mix 1 tbsp Earth Balance onto them while still warm. Mix in the sauces and stir nuts to coat well.
5. Spread nuts back onto baking sheet and place back in oven for another 10 minutes.
6. Take in the wonderful smell of your home while the nuts cook. It will have you drooling.
7. Let the nuts cool for at least 20 minutes and enjoy! (These are freakin’ amazing and I’m a little bummed that I gave them away as a gift. I will definitely be making more of these to have at home.)

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