In my opinion, the holidays are all about two things:
Spending quality time with family and friends, and indulging on good food and drink.
A few weeks ago I shared tips on how to stay happy and healthy this holiday season, so this week I thought I’d shift gears and focus on the good stuff — the indulging. More specifically, the best plant-based holiday meal, drink, and treat recipes to get you — and your non-vegan family and friends — through the holidays.
To do so, I reached out to the full No Meat Athlete team, including Matt and Erin, Esther, Susan, and Stepfanie, and together we’ve compiled a list of our favorite recipes to indulge in throughout the holidays.
Let’s start with my favorite meal:
For my family, Christmas day revolves around a giant brunch. Aside from stockings, we even hold off on opening gifts until brunch is served and savored, making it one of the meals I look forward to most all year.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
1. Tofu Quiche — Nothing says brunch like a delicious, savory quiche, and this simple plant-based version gets even the non-vegans in my family excited.
3. Coffee Cake — Long after brunch is over you’ll want to keep munching on this coffee cake treat.
4. Ginger Mimosas — I’m not afraid to admit I love a good brunch mimosa. Give the traditional recipe a twist by adding ginger, and swap out the champagne with sparkling water for an alcohol free version.
Doug’s Ginger Mimosa Recipe
— 2oz Orange juice
— 4oz Brut champagne
— Splash of bitters
— 2 thin slices of ginger
Add bitters, ginger, and orange juice to the glass, top off with champagne.
The holidays typically come with their fill of down time — either between activities, or while you’re waiting for the big meal to finish cooking. I’ll fill the quiet with a good book, holiday movie, or board game (Settlers anyone?).
But no matter what I’m doing, down time always means breaking out snacks and apps.
5. Stuffed Mushrooms — With the never-on-time holiday dinner in mind, it’s important to have a few hearty appetizers on hand, like these stuffed mushroom caps.
6. White Bean Spread with Pomegranate and Mint on Crostini — Simple and delicious. Put this white bean spread on your crostini and garnish with pomegranate seeds and chopped mint.
Sardinian White Bean Spread Recipe
— 1 medium clove of garlic
— ½ teaspoon salt
— 2 cans (or 3 cups cooked) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (almost any bean will work, so feel free to try others)
— Juice of one medium lemon
— 1-2 teaspoons dried herbs (any you like — usually an Italian blend plus fennel seeds)
— 2 tablespoons olive oil (If you don’t mind oil, you can use use up to a quarter-cup for a richer spread. If you want to it to be totally oil-free, substitute liquid from the beans or water.)
Use a food processor or blender to first mince the garlic, then add all remaining ingredients except for oil (or your substitute liquid) and pulse to form a very rough paste. Then, with the motor running, stream in the oil or other liquid with the motor running. Do it quickly so that the spread retains a bit of texture.
Serve with veggies or pita wedges, or spread on pizza crust, bagels, or just about anything else where you want to add some heft and nutrition.
7. Mushroom Crostini — For something a little heavier, this recipe uses rosemary lemon cashew cream as the spread, and a nice serving of mushrooms on top.
Sides and Entrees
Holiday feasts can be tricky when your family isn’t also vegan, so I make sure that whatever I cook is approachable and exciting to everyone around the table.
Here are a few of the team’s favorite vegan sides and entrees for the holidays:
10. Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf, Revisited — Each year Katie and I cook two lentil loaves — one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas — since they make for the perfect meat substitution on a holiday plate (Esther thinks so too, since we both suggested this one!).
11. This Ain’t Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole — Everyone loves a good comfort food side, and this suggestion from Esther should do the trick.
12. Holiday Soup for the Soul — My family keeps a big pot of soup ready at all times, for whenever someone gets hungry. Thanks to Esther, we have a new recipe to try this year.
Bonus: Don’t forget the sauces!
Let’s be honest, everyone’s favorite holiday food indulgent is dessert. Yeah, these should do it:
14. Vegan Gingerbread Stout Cookies — Susan admits that she usually eats the whole batch before Santa arrives, so she’ll make a second batch. Or sometimes a third. No judgement here … it’s Christmas!
15. Sinless Sticky Toffee Pecan Pudding — A dessert you don’t have to feel (as) guilty devouring.
16. Saltine Butter Toffee — Erin’s favorite holiday gifts are edible ones, and the vegan treats from Joni Marie Newman’s Vegan Food Gifts never disappoint (trust me, I always love receiving a tin of treats from her around the holidays). This toffee is one of the best.
17. Mulled Wine — I first learned how to make mulled wine during a cold winter (in July) studying abroad in Chile, and if you drink alcohol, it’s the perfect sipping drink to warm the body and soul.
Doug’s Mulled Wine Recipe
— 1 bottle of red wine (nothing fancy, I usually grab a $10 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or Carmenere)
— 1 whole cinnamon stick
— 8-10 cloves
— 2 cups of apple cider
— 1 cup Port or Brandy
— 1 orange, zested and juiced (save peel for garnish)
— 1 apple, sliced
Combine in a large sauce pan and simmer before reducing heat for at least 15 minutes before serving. Alternatively, combine in a slow-cooker and leave on low throughout the evening.
This Christmas, Bring on the Food and Drink
Because what’s a holiday without a delicious treat?
From everyone on the No Meat Athlete team, we wish you have a happy, healthy, and delicious holiday.
But what if you gave your body just 15 minutes per day — no weights or equipment needed — for as long as this situation lasts? Could you turn this into an opportunity to start a fitness habit (maybe for the first time ever), and come out of it in better shape than before?
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