Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Holiday Vegan Eats

One thing I was both looking forward to and a little anxious about was making meals while home over the holidays. I live a 6 hour flight from where my family is, so it's not like I could just pack up my car and bring home all my favorite ingredients. I really wanted to share dishes with my fam that showed off how delicious & flavorful vegan food can be, but I didn't necessarily want to buy the wide array of oils, grains, and products I've collected over the past year of being vegan. I found a good balance- buying a few staples like non-dairy milk and margarine, flax seeds for baking, a little nutritional yeast, and using what was already in my mom's pantry to pull together some holiday meals I was happy to share with my family. It was definitely a little more challenging to find some of the fresh veggies and vegan items I've grown accustomed to, but with some helpful grocery store employees and a few modifications, I whipped up some great vegan eats while home for the holidays!

Here's what I made:
  • Night of the 23rd: I made the delicious cauliflower bake from Vegan Yum Yum, with homemade marinara and white sauce and tofu ricotta. I love this dish because it tastes rich & filling, but it's healthy and fairly easy to throw together. I had to omit the tahini, but the white sauce was still delicious without it. Everyone tried and loved this dish- even my sister-in-law, who claims to hate tofu. She didn't even know it was in there ;-) 
  • Christmas eve: I kept it simple and made myself a "squash bowl" meal, since the rest of the fam was having ham and scalloped potatoes. My meal was a beautiful roasted acorn squash stuffed with spinach & asparagus farro with dried cranberries and walnuts, and a mixed baby lettuce side salad. Simple, healthy, and yummy! My family liked trying the farro, too- aside from my brother-in-law, who claimed it looked too "healthy." lol.
  • Christmas dinner: I thought my warm, decadent-tasting butternut squash orzo with sage brown butter would be a perfect Christmas meal. Another hit with the family too, and I was excited to introduce them to Orzo, since they'd never had it. For both this dish and the cauliflower bake, I served my meal over a giant bed of arugula, which I think goes perfectly with both of these dishes and makes them beautiful main courses!
  • For lunch one day, I also made herb citrus tofu (tofu marinated in fresh squeezed orange juice and herbs) served on toast with dijon mustard, sea salt, and hummus- which was great because I got my aunt and sister to try - and like- tofu! 
  • I also made a creamed spinach dinner another night, using white northern beans, a little tofu,  nutritional yeast, some spices, and some almond milk for the "cream" sauce. It was soooo delicious, and so easy to make. It also made for a great lunch the next day, spread on some whole grain sunflower seed bread!
But it wasn't all salads and squashes, that's for sure! I made my vegan version of my mom's pumpkin bread, of course- no one could tell the difference, and the kids loved this bread so much they wanted it instead of dessert some nights!

For dessert, since my brother in law is British, he always brings home a giant "milk tray" of delicious Cadbury's chocolates. Sadly, these are not vegan of course. Instead, I indulged in some of these treats:
  •  An array of cookies made with my oldest nephew, who loved "experimenting" with what we threw in the batter :-) We also made vanilla-cinnamon patties: non-peppermint patties - we didn't have peppermint extract, so instead, we made the sugar filling, flavored with vanilla and cinnamon-spice and covered with chocolate. The kids loved making - and of course eating- these!!
  • Trifles -I made a few different versions, using the soft, moist sponge cake recipe I've used before, filled with different centers: fig-date filling, chocolate ganache, or fresh berries, and topped with a vegan nog frosting. Yummmm. I made these Christmas eve and no-one wanted to eat the non-vegan desserts after seeing and trying these ;-)
  • Carrot cake cookies. A bit hit, as always!
  • Finally, I also made homemade chocolate-covered dried cranberries -simply melt some dark or semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips, mix in some dried fruit, spread on a tinfoil-covered plate, and place in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Voila! Homemade, vegan chocolate covered yumminess, to compete with Cadbury's ;-)
So yes, I did a lot of baking and cooking while I was at home! But it was really fun to share recipes, treats, and my vegan successes with my family!

Hope you all enjoyed delicious food and great family time over the holidays as well! 

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