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The holidays are {almost} here! And I don’t know about you but in my family, holidays have always been centered around food, travel, family, food, and more food. The common denominator being FOOD. Will there be some awkward political conversation you don’t want any part of? Go get seconds. Too many screaming children for your patience and liking? More food! Feed the screaming children with food! FOOD. It’s all about the food, y’all.

BUT.

Is your family a plant based family? Your extended family of aunts and uncles? Or even your friends? The ones you celebrate friendsgiving with every year? I’m going to guess that’s a no, sadly. The upcoming holidays are centered around not just food but more specifically MEAT. Turkey, ham, gravy, stuffing, etc. Even the cranberry sauce from a can is made with gelatin so you really can’t escape the animal products from your typical Thanksgiving menu.

BUT.

Don’t you worry! I”m here to help! For the past 5 or so Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays I’ve been the only vegetarian/vegan at my holiday gatherings and have provided my own dishes to devour but I’ve also shared them and gotten really good feedback from my carnivorous family and friends. In addition, at the end of this post I’m sharing two “Harvest Salad” recipes that are so easy to throw together and even easier to customize to your liking.

So let’s round up some of my favorite recipes from years past! *Also note: while I don’t necessarily have anything against the “faux” alternatives for holiday gatherings, I have personally never tried them and you won’t find any of them on this list. Part of the reason being, I’ve always wanted to cater to meat-eaters and veg-heads alike! People tend to be freaked out by words like “tempeh” and “seitan”…especially around Christmas. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!) Just jokes guys!

LET’S EAT!

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  1. Baked Apples with Walnut Herb Stuffing

These Stuffed Apples with Walnut Herb Stuffing are one of the first vegan “holiday” dishes I tried. I only recently rediscovered them and I am thinking of them making a reappearance this year! They are SO flavorful.

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2. Green Beans with Lemon-Almond Pesto

I made these a couple of years ago and they were a hit with everyone on Thanksgiving! I think my father-in-law, who is famous for not loving his veggies, tried them and enjoyed them! The simple lemon-almond pesto adds the perfect crunch and makes this a delicious alternative to green bean casserole!

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3. Stuffed Acorn Squash with Hazelnuts, Quinoa, and Kale

This is a great option for a main course on Thanksgiving and/or Christmas! I’ve probably made this every fall since ditching meat and dairy!

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4. Vegan Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

This is another delicious option for a main course! This is also one of those recipes that require such simple and minimal ingredients it makes you wonder how it can possibly be so good! The combination of the cashew ricotta and the slightly sweet butternut squash captures all the familiar flavors of fall.

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5. The BEST Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Okay please excuse there terrible photo! I decided to use this original recipe page because it shows how well-loved these recipes have been! Thanksgiving is once a year yet these mashed potatoes and gravy have been a staple in my house all year long! These recipes are from the talented Lee Newlin, co-owner of Peaceful River Farms in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I had the amazing opportunity to visit the farm last November for a cooking demonstration on all things holiday dishes. It was INCREDIBLE. You can read a little bit more about this amazing place and my visit here & here.

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6. Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts

This is probably my all time favorite side dish. It is easy, quick, and delicious. And it’s a crowd pleaser! In my mind, Chef Chloe can do no wrong so all of her dishes are crowd-pleasers, but this one is FOR SURE! In fact, My mother-in-law has requested this a couple years in a row!

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7. Autumn Glow Salad with Lemon Dressing

I honestly couldn’t even guess the number of times I’ve made this dish. I make it approximately 72 times in the fall and winter months and maybe 71 times during the spring in summer. IT’S THAT GOOD. And again, the ingredients are so simple yet they are so perfect together. I like to amp up the veggies and add some brussels sprouts too!

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8. Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

This has made my menu for a couple of years. With just 3 ingredients you really can’t go wrong!

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9. Honeycomb Crunchies AKA “Seafoam”

My husbands dad and his wife live in Michigan, where we are from, and anytime we’re able to make it back “home” for the holidays Ranee has an abundance of delicious treats ready and waiting for us to devour. From the BEST fudge to this amazing Seafoam. I haven’t tried this recipe but I will be this year since we won’t be making it up north. It’s the perfect melt-in-your-mouth dessert after all the hearty and savory dishes. I will warn you though, it’s nearly impossible to stop eating it!

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10. Gluten Free Vegan Apple Crisp

Are you in charge of bringing the dessert this year? This is the perfect, traditional recipe to really ‘wow’ your friends and fam! The best thing about vegan baking is that there really is nothing “weird” about it! So nobody can be weirded out just because it’s vegan. My sister likes to tease me and anytime I offer her anything vegan she asks, “Is there nutritional yeast in that?” HAHA! She thinks it’s the weirdest ingredient. ANYWAYS, make this apple crisp. You’re welcome!

HARVEST SALAD

2 WAYS!

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These two recipes are honestly so easy to throw together and require such little planning and prep. Don’t like squash? Sub sweet potato or vice versa. Don’t like Brussels Sprouts? Try Broccoli or Cauliflower. Make what you love! Double the cranberries, leave out the nuts-totally up to you!

I hope this has been helpful for your holiday meal planning! Happy {Plant Based} Holidays, Friends!

Alix Yokabitus