3 Tips For Being the Best Plant-Based Holiday Party Guest
ou’ve recently switch to a plant-based diet. You’re sleeping better. Your digestion’s on track. Your blood pressure’s stabilized. But now…you’ve been invited to a holiday party. It could be Aunt Martha’s or the yearly office shindig. One thing you know is, aside from a plate of carrots and hummus there isn’t going to be a plant-based dish in sight. So, how do you navigate the holiday festivities with flare and aplomb? Here’s how to be the best plant-based holiday party guest.
Channel your inner cool (and bring a gift)
News Flash: With famous athletes like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and celebrities like Ellen Degeneres it’s hard not to hear about the benefits of plant-based eating. Plant-based is going mainstream. You’re the hip one here, you’re in the know, so no apologizing for or defending your dietary choices at a party. Most people don’t care. So this year, instead of worrying about what you’ll eat, show your host some love and bring a gift of a delicious calorie-friendly and plant-based dessert.
Don’t be a Noodge.
From Yiddish nudyen, to be a tedious, bore. The saying “Wear the world lightly” is a great mantra for parties where you might encounter blowback about what you eat or your political views. Remember it is a party, not a seminar. No need to preach about your plant-based diet or get upset. Be prepared with a come back, “Yeah, I like eating this way, tastes good and I feel great.” That’s all you need to say. Most people won’t belabor the point. If they do, direct them to a few of your favorite plant-based websites and move on to another guest.
Pro plant-based Tip: If you are really stuck at a place where there’s nothing to eat but the proverbial meat and potatoes. Eat the potatoes, i.e. veggies. Stack up your plate with every veggie available and leave the meat to carnivores. Laugh about how much food you can eat. Remember people are attracted to openness, joy, and humor. Stay positive and keep it light.
Go old school with a twist
Good manners never get old. In a time of texts and quick phone calls, put a little flare in your appreciation with a hand-written thank you note. It only takes a few minutes to write and send – plus, your host/hostess will be delighted. This is a great gesture for more than formal occasions. Try it after you next informal get together. A brief thank you note mentioning a fun memory of the evening grounds you in gratitude and is uplifting to your host.
Thriving with your plant-based diet during the holiday season is easy if you stick to the basics and do like your MamaSezz: Bring a little gift, laugh often, and say thank you.
Hearty Healthy Holiday Recipes Reimagined
Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes
We have a variety of tasty, plant-based Thanksgiving recipes to provide fresh new ideas for a healthier, heartier holiday feast!
Veronica Bosgraaf, founder of healthy snack brand Pure Organic has put a twist on your traditional Thanksgiving with recipes from her Pure Food cookbook. Veronica has used her creative cooking expertise to create healthy, plant-based recipes that are still incredibly tasty (and the whole family will love!)
Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes
Asparagus with Turmeric-Spiced Almonds
Turmeric is one of the world’s healthiest spices and has a neutral enough flavor that you can sprinkle it on just about anything. It is a spice that has been used in Indian and Asian cuisines for centuries, and recent studies have shown it to be effective in reducing inflammation, which is the precursor of many diseases. Turmeric is very high in antioxidants, ranking sixth among all spices and eight among all foods. Its mildly bitter flavor combines wonderfully with agave and lemon juice. This dish is so hearty and beautiful that it can be served as a main course for lunch with crusty bread and olive oil and come cut-up fruit. Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes
Serves 4 to 5
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, plus more for pan
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch of ground cumin
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1 pound asparagus, tough stems removed and cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a baking sheet with oil and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the agave, turmeric, salt, and cumin. Add the almonds and stir gently to coat. Spread the almonds on the prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet set over medium heat. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and then the almond mixture. Serve.
Cranberry Leek Quinoa
When I start to see fresh organic cranberries pop up in the grocery store, I buy as many bags as I can fit in my freezer. I love cooking with fresh cranberries and freeze them so that I can make my cranberry dishes all year. My kids devour my Curried Cranberry Sauce (page 204), which is a year round staple in our house, as well as this wonderful grain dish. Quinoa has a fall feel to me, perhaps because its flavor is so nutty. Combined with squash and cranberries, this dish takes all the good smells and tastes of the season and makes them into a beautiful meal.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 2 cups finely chopped butternut or acorn squash
- 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed well and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 cup cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium saucepan set over high heat, bring the water and quinoa to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 6 minutes. Add the leeks and sage and cook, stirring, until the squash is tender and the leeks are lightly golden, about 6 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook just until they start to pop, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, agave, and lemon juice. Add the cooked quinoa and stir well. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Green Bean and Onion Bake
Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, plus more for frying
- 1 pound petite green beans, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ cups sliced small bottom mushrooms
- 1½ cups unsweetened almond milk, homemade (page 34) or store-bought
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until bright green, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the almond milk, tapioca starch, salt, and pepper and cook until thickened, about 7 minutes. Add the green beans and cook until the beans are completely tender, about 7 minutes. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a serving dish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spread the onion slices on several layers of paper towels and pat dry. Pour about ¼ inch of grapeseed oil into a small sauté pan and place it over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry onions until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel– lined plate to drain. Sprinkle over the green bean mixture just before serving. Serve hot.
Walnuts are one of my favorite foods because they are rich and satisfying but not overwhelming in flavor, so they blend well with many dishes. I also try to use walnuts whenever possible because they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which my family needs to get through plant sources because we don’t eat fish. Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes
Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for proper brain development. Studies have shown that children with good omega-3 intake do better in school and have fewer behavioral problems. Omega-3s are also instrumental in promoting cardiovascular health, reducing inflammation, and help to protect against certain kinds of cancer. They are an imperative part of our diet.
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, plus more for greasing
- 4 whole acorn or butternut squashes
- 1 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1 cup peeled and finely chopped parsnip
- 2 firm-sweet apples (such as Gala, Fuji, or Pink Lady)
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a small baking sheet generously with grapeseed oil.
- Cut 1 inch off the tops of the acorn squashes, and reserve the tops. Scoop out the seeds and all but ½ inch of the flesh from the inside. Discard the seeds and finely chop the flesh; set aside. Put the squash shells cut-side down on the baking sheet and bake until tender, 35 to 37 minutes. Let cool.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, parsnip, apples, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and reserved squash flesh and cook until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley and walnuts. Set aside.
- Turn the squash shells right side up on the baking sheet and spoon the filling into each. Place the reserved tops on the baking sheet beside the filled shells.
- Bake until tender and the stuffed squashes begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Serve hot, with the squash “lid” next to the squash on the plate.