A few years ago, I volunteered to host Thanksgiving for my husband’s side of the family.
Just to give you an idea of the landscape… We have 2 vegans, 1 vegetarian and a handful of meat eaters and me with all 23 of my food allergies. Year after year, I’ve watched the non meat eaters bring something frozen or their own meal to holiday gatherings because there was nothing really for them to eat. At this point being several months into my own diet change journey, I decided this was the year to do things differently!
So, as I sat down to plan what I was going to cook for Thanksgiving, it dawned on me that vegan food can be so tasty when prepared well and that most Thanksgiving sides are meatless anyways. So I decided to challenge myself to come up with yummy side dishes that were vegan friendly so everyone could join in and enjoy the meal. I’ve gotta be honest, it was SO much fun!!
Planning is in my nature (I know, I know…) and researching is one of my absolute favorite things to do. So I scoured the internet to find the perfect sides that complement each other and were either already vegan friendly or could easily be altered that way. Everyone around me might have thought I was a little crazy, but the Oh Yumm!’s and How did you make that?’s that came on Thanksgiving day was worth it!
Our menu looked a little something like this:
Beet Hummus with gluten free crackers and veggies
Cranberry Quinoa Salad with Orange, Mint and Kale (with the honey substituted for Agave)
Mashed Potatoes (simple version made with vegan and soy free butter)
Vegan Stuffing (with gluten free stuffing mix)
Burgundy Mushrooms (made with vegan and soy free butter + veggie broth instead of cubes)
Turkey – Yes! We did have a turkey but it was cooked completely separate. We actually cooked it on a low temperature using the grill.
Tofurkey – you can buy these at the store. It’s a vegan version of a turkey.
Vegan Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars (I used gluten free flour and steel cut oats)
I’ll bet 2020 hasn’t gone quite how you planned, right? It’s so easy to get caught up in what we can’t do or have that sometimes we forget the power is in our hands to create something amazing! Who would have thought that a delicious, vegan and gluten free friendly Thanksgiving was possible? I sure didn’t until I dove in and decided to make it happen.
We actually still use many of these recipes to this day on a regular basis. The burgundy mushrooms, rosemary carrots, Brussels sprouts and let me tell you that cranberry orange chutney is to die for!
So friends, whatever you are facing right now that seems hard, I encourage you to take some time to look at it from all angles and see if there is a solution you haven’t yet thought of. The answer may just be right in front of you. In the meantime, enjoy these yummy recipes and challenge yourself to make an inclusive dish this holiday season for those who have dietary preferences or allergies. A little bit of effort goes a long way!