Friday Tips: Holiday time!

Vegan Goodness:

Today we ate:

  • Breakfast: Smoothies for Dad and LP and then toast for everyone as we ran out the door to our third pre-school tour.
  • Mom and LP snacked on roasted almonds
  • Lunch: Leftover curry rice and leftover cholent
  • We all had a couple cookies for a snack (well, LP just got a couple bites of a cookie)
  • Dinner: Peanutty Pasta from Vegan on the Cheap

Money Matters:
Today we went on a pre-school tour and Dad did some tree trimming.  No money spent!

Friday Tips for Living Vegan and Living Cheap – with kids!:

Our Family Thanksgiving

I love holiday cooking.  When else can you keep decorated cookies and pumpkin breads around at all times?  I also love planning holiday meals.  We spend Thanksgiving at home just the 3 (now 4!) of us, and for Christmas my family comes to town.  We have had vegan holidays for four years now, and I always love planning all the great things I’m going to cook, even when it is just the G-man, me and the kids.  Often the hardest thing for us it narrowing down the dishes we want to make to a reasonable number.  After the G-man convinced me that we didn’t need to have a main dish and eight side dishes for Thanksgiving this year, we finally decided on this menu:

  • Seitan Roast (which we had last year and really enjoyed!  Recipe to follow)
  • Mushroom Gravy
  • My Mom’s Stuffing (with veggie broth, cooked in a pan, not a bird!)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Bourbon-Laced Sweet Potatoes
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Pumpkin Biscuits
  • Chocolate Mint Pie (neither of us really cares about pumpkin pie, so we go straight for the chocolate!)

No one who eats at our house could really think that being vegan at Thanksgiving is anything but decadent!  What I love most about our Thanksgiving menu is that it is a mix of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes that I ate growing up (stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes) as well as a few new specialties that have become our family favorites (such as chocolate for Thanksgiving dessert!)

Here are some of the things I did that have made my little family’s Thanksgiving meals success.  Note: some of these tips simply link back to other tips I’ve discussed before – that is because these strategies work well both for everyday life and the holidays!

Think about what food represents: For the first few years after I started to give up dairy I still ate cheese and even eggnog during the holidays.  My thinking was that it was “tradition” and I couldn’t abandon it.  However, when I went fully vegan for more ethical reasons rather than simply for health, I started to re-think this concept of tradition.  For example, while turkey might be the “traditional” main dish at Thanksgiving it is really more about having a center-piece.  Our Thanksgiving main dishes have ranged from Butternut Squash Risotto to our current favorite: Seitan Roast.  All these dishes provide a focal point for the massive meal, which is really the point!  Similarly, having tyropitas made with tofu ricotta and tofutti fulfill the same comfort food role at Christmas as the ones my grandmother always made with ricotta and butter.  

Veganize favorites:  As mentioned above , it is nice to keep some of your favorite holiday food traditions.  A simple solution is, veganize them!  I provided a few simple tips on how to do that in an earlier post, but basically there are easy ways to veganize: use veggie broth, lose the cheese or replace it with Daiya or other substitutes, etc.

Try something new: Check out cookbooks or the tons of vegan bloggers that are currently posting great holiday recipes!  And check out my post about this idea here!
Keep a record: One mistake I made my first time cooking for vegan holidays is that I didn’t write down the recipes I was making up as a went along.  We had some great food that year that I had to work hard to replicate simply because I hadn’t taken an notes.  So, when you are planning your menu or messing around in the kitchen keep a notebook and pen handy, and write down the successes and near-successes for future reference.

Of course the most important thing to do is enjoy the holiday season – and every season – with the people you love.  That is why I will dine this Thanksgiving with my hubby and my kiddos!  Also of course with my other loves: copious amounts of potatoes and chocolate!

And check out this great video about vegan holidays from Colleen-Patrick Goudreau!

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