Thanksgiving Is Too
A Vegetarian Holiday!
By Angel McNall
No thanks, Thanksgiving really isn’t a vegetarian holiday,” one of my friends once said, declining a “Turkey Day” invite. He obviously had never been to my house for our annual vegan feast, because as anyone who has knows, this is a hot ticket! Contrary to his visions of a few lonely vegans sitting down to a plateful of lettuce and sprouts, we have all the trimmings of the traditional feast, and better yet, our meal is healthy! As a vegan chef and instructor, I take pride in offering my guests dishes they are familiar with but without the animal products.
You don’t have to be a vegan chef to make a veg-friendly Thanksgiving though, because Awareness Magazine and Angel’s EarthKind Kitchen have the tips and recipes you need to keep everyone happy (and healthy). So, if you are making your guest list and you are debating whether you should invite those vegetarian friends/family members, the answer is yes! You can invite and impress with your newfound culinary know how! Let’s start with a few basic tips:
1. Vegan/Vegetarian — Vegetarians don’t eat meat, poultry, or fish. Some don’t eat eggs, but they will eat dairy products. Vegans don’t eat anything that comes from an animal (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, honey, and anything derived from these items.) Because so many prepared food items contain labels that might as well be written in Latin, it is best to either prepare the food yourself, buy something that is clearly marked as “Vegan,” or ask your guest to bring a certain item you are having trouble with.
2. The Menu — Let your vegetarian guests know you will be preparing certain dishes that will be ok for everyone; and if you wish, you can even label the dishes “vegan” .
3. Utensils — Pots, pans, silverware, and servings dishes used to prepare or serve foods containing animal products should be separate from the ones used to serve the vegan dishes. It will cut down on the confusion, and make everyone more at ease.
4. Last and most importantly — Relax! Vegans are used to dealing with this type of situation. They know what to look out for and as long as you know what your dishes contain, they will be comfortable. Hint: if you are using the products listed below, save the packaging to help you and your guests easily identify which foods are veg friendly.
The following is a list of products that will make preparing your feast much easier! You can find these products at your local health food market. Anything marked with an asterisk denotes more information is available on our website: www.earthkindkitchen.com .
“Now and Zen”* makes a terrific “turkey” made out of wheat gluten which is absolutely delicious, comes stuffed with stuffing, and even has gravy with it! It is called “UnTurkey.” We had this last year and couldn’t get over how real it looked!
“Tofurky” also makes a great product that comes with stuffing inside and really good gravy!
Angel’s EarthKind Kitchen “Turkey” Roll* — Seasoned Tofu rolled around whole grain stuffing; this dish is a guaranteed hit even with meat eaters! If you want to prepare the main dish yourself, visit our website for this scrumptious recipe.
Follow Your Heart — If you live in the Los Angeles area you can pick up their “Chicken Free Chicken,” a delicious soy product that will look great on your table.* (Follow Your Heart also offers a wide range of prepared side dishes.)
Hain — makes great instant gravy mixes, just add water.
“Tofurky” — You can purchase their gravy separately to serve with your own main dish or sides.
Make your own — (see ingredient substitutions below). After you decide on the main dish, the side dishes are easy! You can prepare vegan sides for everyone because they will never know. By removing the animal products you will be removing all of the cholesterol and much of the fat, but you will not be sacrificing flavor! Just make these easy ingredient substitutions!
Milk — Use rice milk or select a soymilk that is very white (some soy milks are light brown in color.) I recommend White Wave brand “Silk”. Using rice or soymilk will work in any baked goods, mashed potatoes, etc. White Wave also makes a vegan coffee creamer (some “non-dairy” creamers have casein, a milk protein.) When shopping for non-dairy items watch out for buttermilk, butterfat, milk, nonfat dry milk, whey, casein, and sodium caseinate. For a more thorough list of food ingredients, contact the Vegetarian Resource Group at www.vrg.org
Eggs — for baked goods substitute 1/2 cup firm silken tofu for every egg in the recipe, or 1/3 cup firm silken tofu for a large egg. Always blend the tofu until smooth with a hand mixer or blender before using in your recipe.
Butter — Use Spectrum brand non-dairy margarine. Margarine often gets a bad rap because it usually contains hydrogenated oils; this brand doesn’t and is also vegan. You can find this product and other soybean margarines at local health food stores. (Not all soybean margarines are completely non-dairy, be sure to check the label!)
Chicken, Beef, or Turkey broth
— Just use vegetable broth or vegetable bouillon cubes.
The Veggies — I usually just steam an assortment of veggies and always use organically-grown produce. I find they are more colorful, flavorful, and when they are just lightly steamed they offer a break from the soft, rich food that makes up most of the traditional feast. My guests usually eat them plain, but some may add margarine or gravy at the table.
Candied Yams, Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie — Unfortunately, marshmallows contain gelatin and to my knowledge there are no good sources for vegan marshmallows at this time. Don’t worry though; go to our web site for a yam recipe that will knock your socks off! * As far as stuffing goes, if you are using an instant stuffing be sure to select one that does not contain animal products, and don’t put it all in the bird. (If it’s been in there it’s no longer vegan!) Last but not least, you can make vegan pumpkin pies that everyone will love. (Recipe follows).
So, now you are prepared to make a Thanksgiving dinner that everyone can enjoy. Just remember the things that help make any large dinner a success. Make a very thorough grocery list, go through every recipe and make sure you have all ingredients listed before you shop. Don’t rely on your memory on an occasion like this; it also doesn’t hurt to have someone on standby in case you forget something! I usually stock up on fresh spices, baking powder, cornstarch, flour, etc. at Thanksgiving because you’ll use a lot of these items and fresh is always best! Most importantly though, ask for help when you need it, and prepare your meal with love, it will show.
You can visit our website at www.earthkindkitchen.com for recipes and info and if you need help or advice please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Happy Thanksgiving!
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
1-1/4 pounds tofu (20 oz.) Use Mori-Nu Lite (Extra-firm) 1-16 oz. can of pumpkin puree 1/4-cup maple syrup 1-1/4C raw sugar 1/3 C unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon + 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 1 (vegan) 9-inch unbaked pie shell Preheat the oven to 400º. Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake 30 minutes, then turn oven to 350º and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set. Serve warm or cold. For an extra treat serve with Tofu whipped cream. Keep refrigerated. Freezes great, you can make your pies well in advance!
Tofu Whipped Cream
1 pkg. Mori-Nu Lite Tofu (Extra-firm) 1 teaspoons Vanilla Extract Sweeten with maple syrup to taste (a few tablespoons) Blend all ingredients in a blender until very smooth. Chill and serve with pumpkin pie, waffles, strawberry shortcake, etc. Keeps in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
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