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Saturday, December 1, 2007

My First Vegan Thanksgiving

Being that I am new to the life of a vegan I was unable to type a post before the holiday. I had to think it through myself of how this Thanksgiving would work for me. I was never that much of a turkey eater to begin with. I usually loved the pasta dishes and vegetables. I had dinner at someone’s home this year and at first was not sure how this would work. A nice surprise was when I found out the hostess was a dietician so when she heard that I was vegan she knew what I could eat. It was a dinner where everyone brought something. So, that helped as well because of course my dishes were vegan. I brought a pilaf recipe I found a few years ago, (I changed it a bit to be vegan), a bruschetta recipe with some garlic bread toasts, and a broccoli dish. That right there is a meal for me. The hostess only used margarine for her vegetables and kindly made me a vegetarian stuffing. She told me what was in the vegetables so I would know what I could eat. So I was nice and stuffed on my first vegan thanksgiving. :) As far as dessert, I only had coffee. But that was fine because I was full. A tip I have is to carry with you vegan sugar or agave nectar sticks, and non-dairy creamer. You can find these products either at your local whole food/ organic store or from the web site grocery stores I posted in my first blog, "Welcome to my vegan journey". This way where ever you are you can always have your coffee or tea. I will be making my Christmas cookies this year. Please see my blog on "It’s cookie time" for advice on cookie making. When I thought about what one would cook for the holidays I realized a lot of it is already vegetarian so the goal is to make it vegan. Look at recipes you normally make such as stuffing. If you use meat, of course you would not. Replace chicken broth with vegetable broth . For mashed potatoes if you use butter use margarine, or if you use broth use vegetable. Some people use cream cheese and for this you can try tofutti cream cheese. I have not tried it but I have seen it in the local whole food store. For sweet potatoes replace sugar with vegan sugar, butter with margarine and vegan marshmallows if you use them. Yes, I did say marshmallows. I was surprised to find out that marshmallows have gelatin in them which is made from animals. But if you go to the grocery websites I mentioned in my first blog you will find vegan marshmallows. You could always make pasta dishes , salads, and plenty of veggies that are vegan. I will have more recipes as I make them through the holidays to share with my fellow vegans. I will put in this post some of the recipes I made that I found in magazines. There is also a recipe I have saved which I think would be great as well that is with quinoa and a stuffing recipe. Quinoa is a grain that is said to have a high quality protein more than any other grain. A very dear friend introduced me to that product. This will give you ideas of things to make on the holidays. Being vegan does not mean you will not enjoy your food or your holidays. On the contrary, I am thankful there are so many food choices out there that can make the food experience a lively one. Therefore making a vegan lifestyle a very fulfilling one. Below are the recipes I mentioned. You will see my changes again showing you how to make a recipe vegan. Maybe you might want to use some of these ideas for Christmas or the holiday that you celebrate. HO HO HO :)

Toasted Pastina Pilaf (I think I found this on the back of a pastina box)

2 carrots finely chopped
4 cups low vegetable broth (was chicken )
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine (Use margarine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 package 12 oz egg pastina, uncooked
(Note- for vegan do not use egg pastina- I used
orzo, 1 pound box)

Cook and stir carrots and onion in hot margarine until tender but not browned. Add orzo, and cook and stir until lightly browned. Stir in vegetable broth, parsley, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook 5 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Makes 8 servings.

G ’s tip- when cooking the pasta dish, when you see the broth is mostly absorbed, taste it and see the doneness. If you feel it needs some more broth and time, add just enough broth to have some liquid throughout the pasta, and simmer, stirring occasionally. Test like this until you are happy with the degree of tenderness.

Swanson moist and savory stuffing
(I think I found this in a magazine)
prep /cook time 15 minutes

1 can low sodium (14 oz chicken broth, 1-3/4 cups) (Use vegetable broth)
Generous dash of pepper
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 small onion , coarsely chopped
4 cups pepperidge farm herb seasoned stuffing (according to the PETA website pepperidge farms cubed herb seasoned stuffing is vegan)

Mix broth, pepper, celery, and onion in saucepan. Heat to boil. Cover and cook over low heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add stuffing and mix lightly.
Serves 5

Tomato and Herb Bruschetta (this I found in a magazine)
6 servings

1 ½ pounds plum tomatoes, halved, seeded, chopped (I used regular tomatoes. I always look for ones that have a nice, ripe, red color )
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (fresh)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (I used dried) (A tip I learned is 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs equals 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (a tip I learned is to roll the lemon back and forth a few times before cutting to release the juices)
6 ½ to 3/4 inch thick slices crusty bread, toasted. (You can also use garlic melba toast or if you see in the produce aisle a bag of toasted Italian bread that is nice too. A friend of mine I was shopping with found that, it had garlic flavor and we used that. It was yummy)

Mix first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Tomato mixture can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature). Cut toasted bread in half (If not using the other choices I mentioned). Spoon tomato mixture atop bread and serve.

Quinoa Stuffed peppers
4 servings
(This I found on the back of the quinoa box)

1 cup traditional quinoa
2 cups water
4 large or 6 medium green peppers
1 medium onion diced
½ pounds fresh mushrooms sliced. (I did not add these because I do not care for mushrooms)
2 tablespoons butter (Use margarine)
1- 28 oz can tomatoes, coarsely diced, reserve juice
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 12 oz jar Mexican salsa
2 tablespoons dry sherry
10 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (use vegan mozzarella- I found this at the organic store)(see my tip for options with the cheese)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Steam 4 large or 6 medium green peppers until soft but not limp. In a large skillet, saute the onion and mushrooms in margarine. Add the diced tomatoes reserving juice. Add crushed garlic and Mexican salsa. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the sherry and simmer 10 more minutes. Fold in quinoa. Place peppers in baking dish and fill with quinoa mixture. This will take about half the mixture. Thin remainder with reserved juice and pour around peppers. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over peppers and bake in 325 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

G’s tip- If you are cooking for a group of vegan and non vegan you could separate the peppers putting regular mozzarella on some and vegan on the others. Use different color baking dishes or tooth picks as a reminder which is vegan. I added parmesan cheese pre- becoming vegan. There is vegan parmesan cheese. Make sure the bottle says vegan because if it says veggie it may have a product called casien in it. The latter is a milk derived protein. I found this product at the organic /whole food store. You can keep that on the table and regular parmesan for whomever may want it. You can also omit the mozzarella for vegan/ non vegan or both and have parmesan on the table to pass around.

I hope these recipes and tips will be useful to my readers. Please come visit my blog again.

Gnewvegan :)


Veggies.... said...

Sounds like some good recipes. I really enjoyed reading about all the vegan and vegetarian feasts being cooked up and enjoyed this year. Happy Cooking!

Gnewvegan said...

Thank you for reading my blog. I am very glad the reading was enjoyable. My goal is to make this a site where my fellow readers will come back and make my blog a part of their vegan journey. Vegan eating is definately not boring. There are many choices and these few months that I have changed my way of life have been great.