As we near Thanksgiving, I tested a couple of plant based recipes that are suitable for the holidays. Both were a success!
The main question I get this time of year, about living the plant based lifestyle, is this one: “What about the holidays? Do you stay plant based then?”
The answer is simple. Yes I do. If I ate meat and foods heavy with butter, milk, sugar and eggs…I’d feel sick. Immediately. I’m not tempted at all by such foods.
My family prepares a traditional holiday meal, for Thanksgiving, and I bring plant based foods to eat and to share. It works out fine.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
This dish came together easily and was savory and satisfying. I adapted this recipe from one that I picked up at Natural Grocers.
2 acorn squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Sea salt & pepper to taste
1 cup brown rice
1 1/2 – 2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons apple juice sweetened dried cranberries
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 pears, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons dried sage or 4 tablespoons fresh, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each squash in half, length wise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Rub squash flesh with olive oil. Sprinkle each half with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Place on parchment covered baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until flesh is tender.
In a pressure pot combine rice, vegetable broth and salt, bring to pressure and allow to cook for 25 minutes. Allow natural release. OR combine rice with 2 cups of broth and salt in small sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes, then fluff with fork.
Soak cranberries in bowl of water. Set aside. In skillet sauté onions, celery and garlic in olive oil until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add pears, sage, thyme and salt and cook 2 more minutes. Drain cranberries and add to veggies, along with walnuts and cooked rice.
Transfer cooked squash halves to baking pan, cut side up. Mound stuffing mixture into squash halves. Add any leftover stuffing to pan, piling around squash halves. Cover pan with foil or oven proof lid. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 more minutes.
The stuffed squash was wonderful! Greg and I each ate half an acorn squash and saved the other two to accompany us to the family Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll add a chopped salad and fresh cranberry relish and that will be my healthy and delicious holiday meal!
Apples could be substituted for the pears and mushrooms could be added as well. I loved the sweetness of the pears and the crunch of the walnuts. This was my first experience cooking acorn squash. I’ll certainly make these again.
Vegan Pumpkin Bread
This one bowl recipe, that I found on Pinterest, comes from Beaming Baker.
1 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water, whisked together, allowed to set for 5 minutes)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups gluten free oat flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8.5×4.5 or 9×5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Add the wet ingredients to a large bowl: pumpkin, coconut oil, maple syrup, sugar, flax egg, and vanilla. Whisk together.
In the same bowl, add the dry ingredients: oat flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Stir together until just combined, making sure no flour patches remain. Batter will be stiff.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and spread into an even layer. Using a butter knife, cut a slit down the top of the loaf, making it slightly off center. This will create a beautiful split down the top of the loaf as it bakes. Bake for 50-65 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the loaf. The toothpick will come out clean when the loaf is done.
Allow to cool on a cooling rack for 2-3 hours, or until completely cool. Lift out, slice and enjoy!
This pumpkin bread is perfect! It looks a bit dry, out of the oven, however it’s not when sliced. The texture is light. The flavor is just right…not too sweet and subtly spiced. I just had a couple of slices with hot tea. Bliss!
Tomorrow I’ll prepare another loaf of pumpkin bread to take to the family gathering, plus the chopped salad, cranberry relish and a black bean/corn salsa with non GMO chips for an appetizer. I’m also baking a batch of vegan wacky cake cupcakes. It will be a fun day of talking, laughing, and feasting. I’m full of gratitude already.
Happy Thanksgiving! May you find much to be grateful for, including health, vitality and wellbeing.