Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes: Easy to make, delicious for everyone
It pops up in advice columns every November. Someone gripes about the burden of hosting a Thanksgiving feast, and having to meet the needs of those with dietary restrictions, beliefs or tastes. If you have a family member who is vegetarian or vegan, we have advice as sage as all of that herb you put in your stuffing.
It’s easy to tweak a few recipes and make everyone happy. And, of course, if you’re the vegetarian or vegan, arrive holding your favorite dish, and show everyone how delicious a meat-free dish can be.
Charles Stahler, co-director with the Vegetarian Resource Group, notes that vegans often have an advantage.
“They have room for all those dishes most people look at longingly, but are too stuffed to eat,” he says.
It’s a snap to make dishes like greens, corn, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce without the dairy. Vegan margarines like Earth Balance, along with a plethora of replacements for dairy milk, fill store shelves these days.
And before you lecture your vegetarian family member about nutritional issues, take the advice of Torey Jones Armul, registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“Many vegetarians are healthier than non-vegetarians, since the vegetarian or vegan diet is usually lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, and higher in fiber and other important nutrients,” she says. “Vegetarian diets are often linked with lower body mass index, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and rates of diabetes, hypertension and certain types of cancer.”
But please, everyone, let’s keep all this information away from the table. Even Stahler, who works for an organization that informs the public about vegetarianism, advises people to stay away from the issue.
“It’s not a time to argue and convince others about your political, religious, ethical or health beliefs,” he says. “Thanksgiving is about friends and family being together and that should be the focus.”
We applaud that sentiment. And for those struggling to figure out how to re-create that green bean casserole, or sweet potato pie, the Vegetarian Resource Group offers these recipes:
GREEN BEANS ALMONDINE
(Serves 6 to 8)
- 1 pound green beans
- 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 1 cup rice or soy milk
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 1 tablespoon lite tamari
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- String green beans, if necessary. Steam for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.
- Meanwhile, in a dry pan, toast almonds over medium heat, watching carefully so that you do not burn them.
- In a saucepan, heat 3/4 cup of the rice milk over medium heat. Do not let it boil. Combine the 1/4 cup remaining rice milk and arrowroot. Mix into heated mixture and cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Stir in tamari and pepper. Pour hot sauce over green beans. Garnish with toasted almonds.
Total calories per serving: 76
Fat: 2 grams
SWEET POTATO PIE
- One 7-ounce package soft, fat-free cookies in a flavor like cinnamon, ginger, or graham crackers
- 1½ pounds sweet potato, baked
- 3/4 cup Amazake light or vanilla rice drink
- Half 10.5-ounce box silken lite firm tofu
- 4 dates plus 4 for garnish
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Process cookies in food processor until they are crumbled.
- Press into a pie plate with damp fingers. Chill for 10 minutes and then prebake in the oven for 4 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before filling.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and put into food processor (we love this KitchenAid model from Lowe’s). Add the other ingredients except the four dates for garnish and process until smooth and the dates are finely chopped. Pour into the cool pie shell.
- Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Slice the four dates in half and position on top of baked pie. Let the pie cool slightly before serving.
Total calories per serving: 214
Fat: 2 grams