With no mention of Tofurky.
The only thing more intimidating than cooking a Thanksgiving feast for a crowd? Making it a healthy-ish one.
No longer. We’ve rounded up a few simple ingredient swaps and tips that’ll make your Turkey Day dinner more plant-based...because, balance. Whether it’s a table full of vegan and vegetarians, flexitarians or carnivores, these tips from Ashley Ucan, the executive chef at Vital Root restaurant in Denver, Colo., are easy—and more importantly, delicious and satiating.
Upgrade Your Stuffing
Skip the bacon and use chipotle powder to give your stuffing some deliciously smoky flavor instead. You can also add lentils and chestnuts to mimic the meaty texture from sausage. “It's really important for stuffing to have a lot of dimensions and texture, so you have some room to get creative here,” Ucan says. You can try garnishing with roughly chopped smoked almonds, too.
Curtail the Sugar in Your Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is already a great vegan dish, but there's so much potential to break away from the (seriously sweet) norm on this one. Bust out your food processor and roughly pulse cored granny smith apples, whole blood oranges, and fresh cranberries. Add salt and pepper to taste; let it sit overnight to macerate and enjoy. It's a tart, bright, and superstar raw plant-based side.
- 3 parts cranberry
- 2 parts orange
- 1 part apple
Seek Spices and Fresh Flavoring Agents
“When trying to approximate a meal with animal proteins, it’s so important to layer flavors in a thoughtful way,” says Ucan. Use vibrant ingredients like tamarind or miso. To replicate the taste of dairy, try using nutritional yeast in place of cream or butter in your mashed potatoes or cauliflower.
Your Turkey Alternative
A great main to offer your vegetarian guests as an alternative to turkey is an Eggplant Shepherd’s Pie. It's hearty and can stand up on its own as the main entree. The important thing when you substitute a meat-based entree for a plant-based entree is that it's filling, satisfying, and doesn’t compromise on flavor.
Make Mashers Sans Potatoes
No Thanksgiving is complete without mashers. To squeeze in some extra veggies (and fiber), try mashing together steamed cauliflower and coconut oil with a little salt—we promise, it’s still deliciously rich and indulgent.
Give in to Mushroom Gravy
You don't need to use turkey organs to achieve a well-rounded, rich gravy. Dried mushrooms are magic for use in a gravy in place of meat: they’re packed with savory umami flavor and taste delicious sans saturated fat.
Try a New Bread Roll Topping
Instead of an egg wash, you can add shine, color, and flavor to bread or rolls by brushing them with a 1:1 mixture of coconut milk and maple syrup before they go in the oven. You can sprinkle chopped herbs on top or into the bread, too.
Substitute Dairy in Desserts
Silken tofu is a great replacement for cream cheese, eggs, and dairy; coconut milk is a deliciously creamy ingredient that you can use in place of heavy cream.