Thanksgiving: The Vegetarians are Coming!

If you listened to my podcast, Eating Well & Staying Healthy on, here are the tips I discussed if  you are having vegans or vegetarians coming to your Thanksgiving.  Since the average American will consume 4500 calories and 229 grams of saturated fat on Thanksgiving, between the meal and snacks, these tips are good for anyone to reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol in your traditional Thanksgiving dishes without losing the integrity or taste of the dish.  The recipes I mentioned are posted under the Free Recipes Section on this website.

1. The difference between Vegan and Vegetarian: Vegans do not eat any animal products where a Vegetarian will eat either eggs or dairy or eggs AND dairy. Always important to know who eats what. With that said, all of the tips and recipes I am providing are Vegan. It is harder to pull things out of a recipe than it is to add them.

2. Do NOT stuff the turkey!: If you do, the dressing will be covered in turkey juices and the Vegans will not eat it. Make the dressing in a separate baking dish.

3. Dressing: There are two simple ways to make the dressing vegan: A) Use olive oil instead of butter…so when you are sauteing your vegetables, use olive oil B) Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. If you really want your sausage or oyster dressing, just make a separate vegetable dressing for your guests. If someone has Gluten issues, you can buy Gluten-Free Bread Cubes or Cornbread Cubes (corn does not contain Gluten) and you can make your dressing with these products.

4. Mashed Potatoes: I like to use Yukon Gold potatoes. If they are organic I keep the skins on, if they are not, I peel them. Start the potatoes in cold, salted water and bring to a boil. When they are fork tender, reserve the cooking water and use to thin the mashed potatoes to the consistency you prefer. Taste before you season with salt & pepper because the cooking water was salted. Add a little of olive oil for richness and you can top them with caramelized onions and chives or just chives or just the onions. (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

5. Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows: First of all marshmallows are made with gelatin, which is an animal product, so unless you use vegan marshmallows, do not make this dish.  I have a great alternative to this dish. I use sweet potatoes (actually yams…they are the orange-colored potato we call sweet potato), Granny Smith apples, Turkish apricots (they are brown in color and do not contain the preservative to keep them orange) and Apple juice (not from a concentrate) with maple-syrup toasted pecans on top. This dish is SO delicious no one even remembers the marshmallow dish! (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

6. Green Bean Casserole: If your family loves green beans, just saute them in a little olive oil with mushrooms and shallots. Another great dish is roasted vegetables. I will discuss later under Vegan Dishes. (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

7. Cranberry Sauce: I grew up on the canned cranberry jelly that still had the ridges from the can on it when it was served. I loved it but I didn’t know any better. I have created the most delicious cranberry sauce and it only takes 10-15 minutes to make! Instead of the classic recipe that uses water and sugar (sugar is not vegan), I substitute orange juice for the water and maple syrup for the sugar. It is SO delicious and easy to make. (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

Vegan Dishes:

1. Ginger Butternut Squash Soup: I love to start a meal with soup. It relaxes your digestion and warms you up. This would be a great starter for everyone at Thanksgiving not just the Vegans and it is SO easy and delicious. I just use Butternut Squash, onion, water, salt & pepper and garnish with fresh, grated ginger (grate it and squeeze the juice from the pulp into the soup RIGHT before you serve). (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

2. Stuffed Squash: If you are not making the squash soup, you could stuff a winter squash. Take a Buttercup or Kabocha or Hokkaido squash (they are green with a stem on them) and cut the top out like a Jack O’Lantern and scoop out the seeds. Make your vegan dressing and stuff it in the squash, oil the skin of the squash and put in a baking dish. This is a real show stopper and looks quite impressive when you are serving your other guests the turkey. (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

3. Green lentils with carrots and onions: This would be a great protein dish for the Vegans, although I have taken this to family potlucks and it is usually the first dish eaten. Use green lentils (not red or French lentils) for this dish. Before you start, you need to spread the lentils out on a dinner plate and sort through them for stones or bad lentils. Do not season them until they are 80% done, take one and squeeze with your fingers to tell, then I season with sea salt and soy sauce.  If a guest is Gluten Intolerant, use Tamari …it is a Gluten Free soy sauce. (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

4. Roasted Vegetables: This is a great dish for everyone  because when you roast vegetables, it brings out the carbohydrates and makes them rich and satisfying. Choose whatever veggies you like, just cut them the same size so they cook evenly and turn them halfway in the cooking process. You can use parsnips, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, mushrooms, onion wedges, squash etc. (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)


1. Pumpkin Pie: There are so many stores and bakeries that are catering to Vegans & Vegetarian now, you might be able to find a vegan pumpkin pie. If not, or if you like to bake I have a vegan recipe on this website in the Free Recipe Section.

2. Cherry Crumble: If you don’t want to get fancy or spend a lot of time, you can saute fruit and top with toasted chopped nuts. I am also posting my Cherry Crumble. The only ingredient you might not be familiar with is the Kuzu …it is a thickening agent and you dissolve in COLD water prior to adding to the fruit mixture. If you are used to using cornstarch, then use that. (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

3. Seasonal Tart: This is a great recipe but can be a bit time consuming. The crust is made from almond and walnut flour (just put walnuts in a food processor) so it is Gluten Free. If you can’t get berries, you can drizzle chocolate over the almond cream or use the crust for other purposes. (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

4. Chocolate Bark: Sometimes people just want a bite of chocolate. This is a great way to make your own chocolate bark. By the way, they do make vegan chocolate chips! Just melt the chips in a double boiler and spread out on parchment paper. Add dried cherries, toasted almonds, peanuts, raisins or whatever. Delicious!  (See recipe in the Free Section of this website)

Lifestyle Tips:

1. Eat at the table: Do NOT eat in front of the tv! It will become mechanical eating and you will eat more and not enjoy what you are eating. SO  set the table with your china or best dinner plates, put on SLOW music and inform everyone to not rush through the meal. Slower music will slow down people’s tempo in eating. It took a lot of time and effort to prepare this Thanksgiving feast, so sit down, chew it well and enjoy it!

2. Put Your Fork Down in Between Bites: This will help you slow down when you eat. When you eat slower, you will not eat as much and it will help with your digestion. There will be leftovers and seconds, so slow down…you can always gets more.

3. Eat Dessert Later: Take a break and eat dessert a little later. It will help you digest the food you have already eaten and you will enjoy it more.

4. Take a walk: After your nap, take a walk with the family. This will help with the digestion of your meal.

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