What Do I Feed a Vegetarian for Thanksgiving Dinner?

(image source)

Ah, Thanksgiving. The ultimate eating holiday, where we are encouraged to “gobble till you wobble.” The turkey gets all the talk, but I’d argue that it’s not the star of the show. Folks are more excited about the dressing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

That’s why it’s always surprised me when people ask, “What on earth do you eat at Thanksgiving?” The short answer: everything but the turkey.

For the longer answer, will you indulge me with a little story telling? I first met Vore’s Dad’s side of the family at Thanksgiving. They live in Florida, and the holiday made a good excuse for travel and introductions. Not one to rock the boat, Vore was nervous about introducing me, afraid my eating habits might cause a stir. Before we went, I made the decision not to say a word.

I made it through 4 days and a Thanksgiving meal without one person noticing that I didn’t eat meat. It wasn’t until two trips later, when I declined the slice of ham on my eggs benedict, that anyone noticed. And they couldn’t have cared less.

Since I consider myself a bit of an expert on vegetarians and holiday meals, I thought I might share my tips for feeding a vegetarian at Thanksgiving. 

  1. Vegetarian is not vegan. Don’t roll your eyes. I live in the South and many lump these two distinctly different eating practices into one category. For posterity’s sake, butter/milk/cheese/eggs are fine for vegetarians. Vegans eat no animal products.
  2. Tofurky be damned. Please don’t go out of your way to make a vegetarian dish! Drawing attention to us makes us uncomfortable. To be quite honest, plenty of us don’t eat fake meat and 99% of us would rather make a meal of your delicious sides.
  3. Give us a warning. Any vegetarian worth her salt knows that gravy is made with turkey drippings. But please let us know if your famous dressing has hidden sausage crumbles or your sweet potatoes are seasoned with bacon grease.
  4. Make simple substitutions. The absolute easiest I can think of is switching vegetable broth for chicken stock. My mom and I made the change in our family recipe dressing years ago and no one noticed.
  5. Don’t make a big deal about it. Chances are, the vegetarian in your life has no desire to change your eating habits. She’s also probably shy about causing any attention to herself, and has already answered the questions a million times. Please be subtle.

I’ll leave you with a few Thanksgiving-appropriate recipes from this site: 

Soup/Appetizers: Honey Nut Goat Cheese DipButternut Squash Bisque

Sides: Corn CasseroleRoasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Desserts: Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice CreamFluff-N-StuffAwfully Similar to Nestle Tollhouse Cookies

Do you guys have any tips for feeding veggies at the holidays? 

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Honey Nut Goat Cheese Dip

Come in close for the good stuff…

For a girl who plans her spontaneity, this is hard to admit: The gorgeous dip pictured above was a bit of an accident.

I bought goat cheese for a recipe idea that never happened. Not wanting it to spoil, I whipped together a quick appetizer for a cookout last weekend. My brother was over, the grill was taking a while to heat and the boys were hungry. Ummm…let me throw something together, ravenous carnivores.

This simple combination of walnuts, honey, goat cheese and cream cheese was a huge hit. I couldn’t keep Vore’s hands out of bowl long enough to take a picture! The recipe is posted at Magic City Post in their original recipe series. Won’t you stop by?

Baby Bites and Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream

I have pumpkin on the brain. Exhibit A:

These Baby Bites made their debut on Magic City Post earlier this week.

I’m writing a series of original holiday recipes for MCP and it’s been quite the challenge. They charged me with making my submissions easy. I know, right? I am forever making food complicated! I used a cake mix as the base for these mini-cupcakes and darn if they didn’t turn out delicious!

And since I already had a can of pumpkin open…

Remember when I made Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream? Just so we’re clear, it’s amazing as is. But in honor of Thanksgiving, I tinkered with the recipe just a bit and made a transformation. May I present to you, Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream: 

We served it to guests, alongside vanilla cake with brown sugar butter cream. One friend said, “It tastes like fall on a plate!” Exactly. It’s swoon worthy. Make this, pronto:

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup strong brewed coffee

3 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup organic sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

*Bring the milk, cream, coffee and pumpkin pie spice to a slow boil over medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

*Combine eggs, yokes, pumpkin, vanilla and sugars in a medium bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat them together until thick and smooth.

*With the mixer on a low speed, slowly temper about 1/2 of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, pouring in a slow, steady stream. This prevents the scrambled egg effect.

*Add the egg mixture to the remaining milk mixture on the stovetop and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

*Chill the mixture completely, then add to your ice cream maker. Mix until the ice cream  has thickened, then transfer to the freezer until your desired consistency is achieved.

13-Bean Southwestern Stew in the Crockpot

My mother never used a crockpot. I always looked a recipes with slow cooker origins as a little too “simple,” in the same category as recipes that start with “1 can cream of mushroom soup.” And then we got a crockpot as a wedding gift.

Oh my goodness, they are glorious! Crockpots save so much time (and money for that matter). You can buy dried beans or less expensive cuts of meat, and a few hours in the slow cooker will work magic.

I made this soup for supper on a busy day and have been enjoying the leftovers ever since. It’s loaded down with veggies and fiber–super filling and super good. We added a bit of shredded rotisserie chicken for Vore.

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion

1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper

1 cup chopped carrots

2 1/2 cups Bob’s 13 Bean Soup Mix*

3 1/2 cups water

1 cube bouillon

2 tablespoons taco seasoning

1 5.5 oz can V8

1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained

1 15 oz can organic corn, undrained

In a 4 quart crockpot, layer the ingredient in the order listed. You’ll start with the onions and finish with the corn. Set your machine on low and leave it for 8 hours. Ta-Da! Soup. Give it a stir, then a taste. You might like to add a little salt in. Makes 6 huge servings. Serve with cornbread, cheese and sour cream.

*My friend Justinn turned me on to Big Lots for Bob’s Red Mill products, which I love. They have an enormous selection and it’s seriously half the price. Big Lots also carries 7th Generation products and several other high end organic products. Who knew?