Rob and I had our first Thanksgiving. Though I’ve celebrated a few Thanksgivings since 2013, 2016 marked my first 100% vegan Thanksgiving. No turkey, no buttery mashed potatoes, nada.
I thought it’d be overwhelming to cook a vegan holiday dinner for the two of us. On one hand, I wanted it to be special. I wanted everything at a traditional Thanksgiving: sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and stuffing. On the other hand, I wanted to be practical, too.
We didn’t end up cooking any of those dishes. I compromised on my vegan Thanksgiving menu. Even so, we enjoyed a delightful vegan Thanksgiving dinner. It was pretty healthy, too!
Here’s our healthy vegan Thanksgiving menu for this year:
- Field Roast Celebration Roast
- Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes
- Thick White Pepper Vegan Gravy
- Healthy Apple & Pumpkin Crumble
- Fermented Cranberry Spritzer
- Easy Garlicy Green Beans
Our meal wasn’t elaborate. However, it was satisfying, seasonal and scrumptious. Excluding the Cranberry Spritzer, It took us less than 2 hours to prepare our Thanksgiving dinner. This meal was a good compromise among taste, convenience and health.
Field Roast Celebration Roast Review
Rob and I decided to let loose (a little) and buy a modest vegan roast. We ordered the roast through Instacart to keep it simple.
The Field Roast Celebration Roast was effortless to prepare. All I needed to do was stick it in the oven and heat it until it was thoroughly warmed. Since I heated it with our crumble in the oven, I only baked it for 30 minutes at 350 F (175 C). The package recommends to bake it at a lower temperature, but it turned out splendid.
I didn’t baste the roast as it warmed as recommended. Instead I added around 1/4 c of vegetable stock to the baking dish before sticking it in the oven.
Field Roast Celebration Roast Rating:
Cost: $6.99. Compared to meat, this roast was inexpensive. Compared to mock meats, it’s on the higher end of them. We didn’t mind paying $6.99 for this special occasion roast, though. In fact, we got two meals out of this, so it turned out to be more economical than we anticipated. We each had two slices for Thanksgiving dinner and 3 slices the day after Thanksgiving for lunch.
Field Roast Celebration Roast Ingredients/Nutrition: Filtered water, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed safflower oil, yeast extract, barley malt, whole wheat flour, butternut squash, granulated garlic, apples, garlic, onion powder, organic wheat flakes, mushrooms, yellow pea flour, lemon juice, lentils, red wine (red wine, salt), tomato paste, sea salt, carrageenan (Irish moss sea vegetable extract), black pepper, rubbed sage, rosemary, spices, paprika, carrots and natural liquid smoke
There’s a lot of wheat product in the celebration roast, but it didn’t come as a surprise to us. Most mock meats are made out of wheat, wheat gluten or a combination of the two. I’m happy they included whole foods in the roast (mushrooms, butternut squash, lentils, apple). The troublesome ingredient was the oil, but that wasn’t a surprise. Many mock meats include oil to make them tender. While oil is unhealthy, we didn’t worry about it for this special occasion.
As a health nut, I’m not concerned about the (un)healthiness of the Field Roast celebration roast. It provided fiber, wholesome carbohydrates and plenty of filling plant-based protein. There’s 1 gram of saturated fat per 3-ounce serving, but no Trans-fat.
Taste: The roast was flavorful, as you can guess from the extensive ingredient list. Though it was salty, the salt wasn’t overwhelming. The herbs, spices and flavorings were strong and blended well with the salt.
Texture: The texture was one aspect that detracted from the Field Roast Celebration Roast. The texture wasn’t unpleasant. On the other hand, it wasn’t similar to meat at all. We easily cut through the slices with a spoon. The celebration roast had the texture of a thick sponge. The texture wasn’t unpleasant, but it didn’t fall apart how animal meat does.
Ease of preparation: One of the best aspects of the Field Roast Celebration Roast was how hassle-free it was. All it required was unwrapping, heating and slicing. Being small, stored well in the fridge. There was no need to worry about basting it or flavoring it.
Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes were an easy and healthy starch to add to our vegan Thanksgiving menu. Cashew milk increased the fat content slightly. We didn’t add any sweeteners, oil or flavorings to our cashew milk.
Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ c homemade cashew milk
Peel the potatoes and then dice them into 1-inch cubes. Prepare a pot or pressure cooker with water and a steamer basket.
Steam potatoes until soft. I steamed them in a pressure cooker for 8 minutes on full pressure then quick released the pot.
Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and add the garlic powder and cashew milk. Mash everything together with a large spoon or fork until you’re satisfied. I prefer mine chunky, but feel free to make smooth potatoes if that’s your preference.
Thick White Pepper Vegan Gravy
I wasn’t a fan of gravy when I was younger. Only after I went vegan did I start to explore and ultimately enjoy gravy. It can a challenge to find flavorful, healthy gravies. With Rob’s Australian gravy expertise, we whipped up a delicious gravy for our humble holiday dinner.
While most gravy relies on lard or oil, we used cashews as the base. The cashews gave a neutral, creamy starting point that provided the proper amount of fat. Not enough fat and the mouthfeel isn’t right. Too much and you step into unhealthy territory.
The gravy is easy to prepare and is surprisingly delicious. Despite the tablespoon of white pepper, it’s not spicy or peppery. Our thick gravy was perfect to top our mashed potatoes and Celebration Roast.
Thick White Pepper Vegan Gravy Recipe
- ¼ cup cashews, soaked and drained
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp white pepper
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp rye sourdough starter (or 2 tbsp rye flour)
- 1-2 cups vegetable stock
Heat a small saucepan to high heat. When it’s hot, add the onions and garlic. Cook them until they’re caramelized, around 3-5 minutes.
Remove the onions and garlic from the pan. Add them to a small blender cup and blend them with the soaked cashews. Blend until completely smooth. You want it completely smooth, so it’s better to over-blend than under-blend.
Transfer the blended mixture back to the saucepan. Then add the nutritional yeast, black pepper and white pepper. Heat until it’s bubbly, whisking continuously.
Add the sourdough or flour to the pan and whisk to mix it in. Whisking is important to prevent lumps. You don’t want lumpy gravy.
Little by little, add the vegetable stock. Start off with adding ¼ cup. Wait until the liquid is completely mixed in to add more water. Adding the liquid too quickly can result in lumpy gravy. Add a cup for thick gravy and more if you want it thinner.
Healthy Apple & Pumpkin Crumble
Though pies are traditional on Thanksgiving, I opted for a seasonal crumble instead. I love pumpkin pie, I do. But making pies takes time. And making healthy pumpkin pies takes even more time. We opted for a simple (but mouthwatering) Apple & Pumpkin Crumble instead.
We went with pumpkin and apple because we couldn’t decide on a single fruit. Since we shop for seasonal produce at the market, we’ve been eating lots of pumpkin this fall. Pumpkin isn’t special for us anymore. That’s why Rob wanted an apple dessert.
Despite eating pumpkin regularly, I wanted pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving. My favorite part about Thanksgiving was never turkey, cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes. It was the sweet potato bakes and pumpkin pies.
To compromise, we made a crumble with both. It didn’t end up tasting like pumpkin or apple. Instead, it tasted like caramel.
The crumble was the dish that took the longest. But it was worth it. Trust me, you won’t seem as if you’re eating healthy when you bite into this Apple & Pumpkin Crumble. It’s mind-blowing that it’s healthy.
Healthy Apple & Pumpkin Crumble Recipe
- 2 apples, cored and diced
- ½ butternut pumpkin, peeled and diced
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- Dash of black pepper
- ¼ c water
- ¾ c rolled oats
- 1/3 c crushed cashews
- ½ tbsp flax
- 1 ½ tbsp hemp seeds (optional)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp aquafaba (or water)
- 8 dry deglet noor dates, chopped
Prepare the apples and pumpkin per listed above. Then add the apples, pumpkin, spices and water in a pressure cooker. Cook for 5 minutes then allow the cooker to naturally release.
While the fruits cook, combine the oats, cashews, flax and hemp seeds in a bowl. Mix in the maple syrup and aquafaba to dampen the mixture. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
Add the dates to the cooked fruit mixture when the pressure has released. Spread the cooked fruit in a small baking pan (I used a bread pan). Top the fruit with the sticky oat mixture and pack down lightly. Bake for 30-40 minutes. The top should be crunchy and hardened but not brown.
Allow the crumble to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy warm or cold.
Fermented Cranberry Spritzer
I’ve never been a fan of cranberry sauce, but I love the color that cranberries add to the table. Instead of cranberry sauce, Rob and I enjoyed a Fermented Cranberry Spritzer. In fact, we enjoyed two variations.
We made 2 cups of spritzer with kefir water and 2 more cups of cranberry spritzer with kombucha tea. We preferred the kombucha-base over the kefir base. You can experiment to discover what you prefer.
The Cranberry Spritzer is best made the day before so it can ferment and create carbonation. To make your own, just blend up ½-1 cup of cranberries (fresh or frozen) with 2 cups of kefir or kombucha. Use a cheesecloth or nut milk bag to separate the fiber from the liquid and place in an airtight bottle. Allow the mixture to ferment for at least 24 hours before enjoying.
Easy Garlicy Green Beans
I’m a fan of green bean casserole. What I’m not a fan of are the unhealthy ingredients used in the traditional casserole. I could have made a healthy version of this dish. For simplicity’s sake, I opted for green beans sautéed in fresh garlic instead.
All you need to cook these tasty and nutritious green beans are green beans, garlic and a little bit of liquid. Sauté fresh garlic with fresh or frozen green beans and a small amount of liquid. You can add other herbs/spices to your liking such as black pepper, parsley, oregano or basil.
That’s it—my vegan Thanksgiving menu for 2016. Plant-based? Yes. Delicious? You bet. Healthy and wholesome? For the most part, yeah.
Though I’m a nutritionist and health nut, I enjoy unhealthy foods from time to time. You can be healthy and eat unhealthy foods a few times a year. If you want to indulge in a little oil, salt or added sugar now and then, it’s okay. Just don’t do it every day of the year.