Soooo, As we all know, the holidays are coming up and the hardest part is making sure that you have food that you can eat, because why in the entire world would you want to be the only person at the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table that is unable to eat anything because even the greens have turkey neck bones in it? And honestly you may be playing with fire just asking for a salad because most people throw Ranch or Caesar Dressing on the salad in addition to cheese without even thinking twice. So when I transitioned into being a vegan, I had to begin making up my own options so that I can eat just as good as everyone at the table. Since I have had trial and error for the holidays as a vegan, I now serve as a sacrificial lamb to up and coming vegans, to which I proudly own. So have no fear, the Sapient Vegan is here!
When I was a little girl (and even now), my father and I were as thick as thieves. And coincidentally every single year, he would wake up first thing on Thanksgiving morning, and I would join him shorty after, (like I’m talking 7:00 am or earlier) to start cooking the 20 different animal infused dishes that made up our meal, and we would be the first to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while everyone else was still asleep (and mini Miss Dominique did not play about that parade). Since cooking the food the day of was usually easy given that we took Thanksgiving incredibly seriously and did everything the evening before like prepping the stuffing, cutting the greens, prepping the cheeses, boiling the potatoes, and peeling the sweet potatoes the night before, all we had to do was throw everything in the oven and do all that extra stuff with the turkey that kinda grossed me out, so we had a ton of extra time to watch the parade. And as everyone would trickle downstairs to watch it with my father and I, I was in love with the moment of watching it with my, so I was able to catch the beginning and I watched most of it, but the moment I saw my father walk back to the kitchen to continue cooking, I was 2 minutes behind him (because again, I was all about the parade and everything that went on with it). Ending the evening Sitting in the living room with my family and friends, with a plate full of turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and all of the other stuff that was no good for you in any shape, or form, while watching the Redskins vs. Cowboys (Grew up in a Redskins Family) was how my Thanksgivings always ended.
But once I started cutting things out of my diet, my family struggled to keep up with ways that I would be able to enjoy the holiday just like them, but I then became FORCED to make my own dishes, which I actually didn’t mind too much because I was getting older and knew the setlist of the Thanksgiving Parade from beginning to end. So at that point, I could focus on the food and making sure that my parents got all of the food out at a reasonable time (this would be a great time to pick at my siblings for being lazy, but I’ll let them live for now).
Fast Forward to 2016, I took a shot at a nearly plant-based Thanksgiving (I still ate seafood at the time, so I had salmon as my main dish). So this Particular Thanksgiving, I made Mashed Potatoes, Greens, Cranberry sauce, and tried to make Mac and Cheese (which was a dub because the local store only had vanilla flavored almond milk. Like even “Original Unsweetened” almond milk, still had hints of vanilla, so my mac and cheese tasted disgusting on multiple levels and I couldn’t hide it). Even though my dishes didn’t hit the way that I expected them to, I was pleased, but I also knew that I could do a little bit better. So Thanksgiving of 2017, I did the most. I got off of work the day before, ran to whole foods and got everything that I would need to show up and show out. I bought Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage, Dandies Marshmallows, Stuffing Mix, Potatoes, Garlic, Collard and Kale Greens, Cranberries, Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Celery, and nutritional yeast, and cashews. So I made cashew mac and cheese with my potatoes, carrots, cashews, and nutritional yeast (secured regular almond milk this time, but used whole wheat macaroni since that was all that they had, and again, my mac and cheese just not as good as it could have been). I used my Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage, carrots, celery, stuffing mix, and vegetable stock to make sausage stuffing which was well received. I made whipped garlic mashed potatoes using coconut oil, a hand mixer, and a lot of patience. I made Pureed Sweet Potatoes with my Sweet Potatoes, and flavored it with sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg and topped them with Dandies marshmallows. I used Cranberries and sugar to make my cranberry sauce. And I used my additional carrots to make a carrot cake with a cashew cream cheese frosting (which I actually sold to someone). I ended up giving all of the dishes to my mom, since she is diabetic and needed a few healthier options, and And even though everything was vegan, it took the same amount of time, work, and effort as it would if I was to be making it with traditional ingredients. On Christmas, I served all of the dishes to my entire family and they all loved it. I even went the extra milk and bought Califia Farms Almond Milk Eggnog to mix with a little rum with my family.
This Year, I am not going to be able to put as much effort into my Thanksgiving as I did last year unfortunately, due to a very heavy work schedule. And usually since I like to do everything myself, I am slightly uncomfortable with the idea of not doing a lot of cooking for Thanksgiving, but I am looking forward for what I am planning to do that requires me spending the same amount of money, with half of the physical effort. And since there will be more than just me who will need some accommodations (my oldest niece has decided to become a vegetarian), it is important that I make sure that we are getting all of the good stuff (a lot is riding on my reputation this year). Since I stay away from soy for the most part, I will be purchasing a Field Roast Turkey Roast with Stuffing, field roast sausages and cornbread cubes for cornbread stuffing, Amy’s Rice or Daiya Mac and cheese, Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread for whipped garlic mashed potatoes, cranberries for cranberry sauce, dandies marshmallows, and almond milk for my sweet potatoes. (Tip: if you can, save about 1-2 cups of your mashed sweet potatoes to make sweet potato buttermilk pancakes the morning after. Recipe is below. You’ll thank me later).
If this is your first year eating vegan for the holidays, do not be intimidated. If you would like to spend the money and the effort to cook, I highly recommend the options above. If you want to spend the money, but no effort, then Sweet and Natural, Everlasting Life, NuVegan Cafe, DC Vegan Catering, Equinox Restaurant, The Hamilton, and more restaurants and companies will be offering Vegan Thanksgiving menus to be catered directly to you or served in their establishments. If you just want desserts, Whole Foods and Fare Well will have cake and pie options (place your orders with Fare Well ahead of time), and I make and specialize in vegan, soy-free desserts as well (check out Speechless Sweets). And if you don’t want to spend the money or the effort, wellllll I’m sure air tastes good or just finesse someone who loves you lol. There will be more than enough options for you and your family to all enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas. Make this holiday season a great tasting one!
P.S. There will be a ton of pictures the day of, but you all already knew that.
My Recipe for Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pancakes
(A slight twist on the original recipe below)
- 2 cups of flour
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups of non-dairy milk + 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar for buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla
- ½ cup mashed sweet potatoes
- 4 tablespoons non non-dairy butter (I prefer Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread) or refined coconut oil for frying and serving.
- A LOT of Maple Syrup for serving, because why not? It’s Black Friday Weekend and you did all that cooking, eating, and cheering on your favorite team, so you deserve it. Treat Yo Self!
- Whisk your apple cider vinegar and non-dairy milk to and let it curdle for 5-10 minutes
- Mix all of your Dry Ingredients
- Mix your wet ingredients including your vegan buttermilk
- Mix in your Sweet Potato Puree
- Fry them babies up!
Suggestions: I’ve heard this works well in a waffle maker! Snag some field roast maple breakfast sausage to go along with it if you can! Also, Reddi Wip’s Coconut Milk and Almond Milk Whipped Creams save lives, breakfasts, and desserts.