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Holidays and special occasions

10 Easy, Inexpensive Party Snacks to Make at the Last Minute

Sweet and Savory Nuts and Pretzels

Parties and celebrations help keep the winter blues at bay, whether for New Year’s eve or day, Super Bowl (aka the big game), Oscar-watching. Or any impromptu gathering for whatever reason helps to allay the post-holiday let-down. For your next gathering, whether hosting or attending, it’s handy to have a list of healthy, yummy snack ideas that can be made at the last minute. These are all vegan, super-quick to make, don’t require special equipment or expensive ingredients, and are relatively healthy. So get your munchies on, and be prepared for any of these to disappear quickly!

Sweet and Savory Nuts and Pretzels, at top, is an easy snack or appetizer to make for the winter holiday season and beyond. It’s also good for munching on while watching movies or sports. Continue Reading…

7 recipes for Vegan Gingerbread Cookies for the Holidays

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

Baking is chemistry, while cooking is more of an art. If certain items are (or are not) present in your formula when you are baking something, then it will change the final product. This is true of vegan and non-vegan baking alike. This article is a look at vegan gingerbread cookies, and what makes one recipe different from another. They are all gingerbread after all, so why would you prefer one recipe to another? This article takes a look at recipes for vegan gingerbread cookies in an attempt to help you find the perfect one for your holiday celebrations.
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Vegan Halloween Treats That Are So Good, It’s Scary

Vegan bat cookies for Halloween by Kathy Hester

Are you dreading the annual ritual of the kids collecting candy, then having to argue with them about how much they can have and how to avoid those dreaded sugar highs (and future dental bills)? Here are some fun Halloween treats that the kids will love, and which won’t send shivers up your spine. For more tips and ideas, see also Leslie Cerier’s Healthy Halloween Treats. First up, Kathy Hester’s creepy “bats and cats” chocolate graham crackers. They’re completely vegan and better for your kids (and you!) than all the sugary candies.

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Delectable Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts

Vegan pumpkin pie with dairy free whipped cream and cinnamon sticks on holiday table

Thanksgiving is the Mother of All Holidays, according to many vegans. There are few special occasions that can compare when it comes to amazing plant-based food choices that celebrate the fall harvest — truly something to be thankful for. And even though the meal can be filling — or indeed, over-filling — leave room for one or two of these delectable vegan Thanksgiving dessert recipes. There are the requisite pumpkin pies, with variations, but if that’s not your thing, there are plenty of other appealing options. Make sure to visit our Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner page for an incredible array of options for the entire meal. Continue Reading…

Easy Vegan Picnic Menu & Tips

picnic basket

Heading into the summer months, its useful and fun to have an easy vegan picnic menu at hand. Here are a few savory, sturdy dishes that can be packed into a cooler. To round out the plan, add some seasonal fruits and refreshing beverages. Sure, the food is great and tastes even better when enjoyed in the fresh air, but a great part of the fun of going on picnics is choosing a lovely outdoor venue.

A hike at a nature preserve is sure to whet the appetite. For families with young children, an ideal spot for a casual picnic with little ones is a community park. To get off the beaten path, try local historic sites. A perfect spot adds much to the enjoyment of a picnic; the experience is transformed from merely eating lunch outdoors to a refreshing lift for the spirit and all the senses. Continue Reading…

Handmade Kitchen Gifts for the Cook, Hostess, and Foodie

christmas cooking fir tree made from flour on a dark table ingredients for baking frozen cranberry and dried fruits on dark background top view

Nothing says thoughtful like a gift that is handmade. Handmade kitchen gifts are one-of-a-kind, and they’re more personal than buying yet another gift from your favorite kitchen brand. These handmade kitchen gifts are the perfect gifts for anyone who loves to cook, host dinner parties, or for anyone who simply enjoys eating! Check out our list of handmade kitchen gifts for the cook, hostess, and foodie. Continue Reading…

Easy Vegan Recipes for Your Holiday Meal

Holiday Meal

It can sometimes be tough to be vegan around the holidays. You have to content yourself with side dishes while your family eats turkey and asks you the same annoying questions about your diet.

But luckily, your holiday meal doesn’t just have to be about hunger and interrogation. Bringing some of these vegetarian entrees for Thanksgiving, or vegan side dishes to any holiday meal is a great way to both feed yourself and give your relatives a taste of the vegetarian lifestyle. Continue Reading…

Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner (Vegetarians Welcome!)

Stuffed butternut squash with whole wheat and wild rice

Here’s your premier source for vegan Thanksgiving recipes and menus to create a memorable dinner—suitable for any vegetarian guests as well! Create mix-and match vegan Thanksgiving menus from the following recipes, from soup to dessert, complete with vegan stuffings and main dishes—all the holiday traditions you adore, updated for a compassionate plant-based feast. Shown above, Butternut Squash With Whole Wheat, Wild Rice, & Onion Stuffingphoto by Hannah Kaminsky.

For even more recipes and menus for vegan Thanksgiving and other major holidays, see Nava’s book, Vegan Holiday Kitchen). Enjoy, and share the blessings! Would you like these choices narrowed down a bit? Here’s a link to our absolute favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes.  Continue Reading…

10 Tasty Vegan Dishes to Share at Summer Barbecues

Barley and fresh corn salad

Whether you’re hosting or invited to a summer cookout, barbecue, or potluck, you’ll need a stash of easy-to-prepare and colorful cold dishes to share — and to help lure your friends to the plant-based side! Featuring plenty of summer produce, these room-temperature dishes are designed to impress the guests while keeping it easy on the cook. All of these are fantastic accompaniments to our Vegan Barbecue offerings.  Continue Reading…

10 Great Recipes for Strawberry Season

Vegan Rustic Strawberry Tart

Few fruits offer as much sensory pleasure as strawberries, especially in season. Here are 10 healthy strawberry recipes for late spring and early summer. Desserts, smoothies, and salads, they’re all asy, vegan, and totally delicious. 

Be aware that strawberries consistently rank near the top of lists of foods most heavily sprayed with pesticides. Read more about that here. The only answer is to buy organic strawberries. They’re more expensive, but they’re usually also riper, sweeter, and juicier than mass-produced strawberries. That being said, let’s dig in! Above, as with all desserts that spotlight fresh fruit, the season’s best berries make Laura Samuel Meyn’s Rustic Strawberry Tart shine. Continue Reading…

10 Low-and No-Sugar Vegan Holiday Desserts

Gingered winter fruit medley

Thanksgiving cookies, cakes, and pies are hard to resist — even the vegan versions, which can be as sugary as their non-vegan counterparts. What about those who can’t — or won’t — indulge in sugar-filled treats? If that applies to you or any of your guests, you can still indulge in these seasonal, flavorful, and beautiful treats. Gingered Winter Fruit Medley (at top) is simple and pretty combination of winter fruits — pears, apples, oranges, and pineapple, spiced with crystallized ginger — is a refreshing finish to any vegan Thanksgiving feast. Continue Reading…

6 Vegan Stuffings for Thanksgiving & Beyond

Cranberry wild rice stuffing recipe

There’s something about stuffing that evokes comfort and nostalgia. While stuffing can be a nice change-of-pace from other starch-based side dishes for everyday meals, most of us don’t think of making it other than for holiday meals. Here are 6 savory and comforting vegan stuffings for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but you need not wait for a holiday to enjoy. They’re great for everyday winter meals, too.

The stuffings here follow tradition by including bread as a basic ingredient. For those who eat gluten free, the good news is that there are several brands of gluten-free bread that can be used to make the bread cubes or bread crumbs in these recipes. In Cranberry Pear Wild Rice Stuffing, above, the wild rice adds a wonderful texture, and the slight sweetness of dried cranberries lends a delicious flavor. Serve on its own; or use to stuff winter squashes for a dazzling holiday main dish. Continue Reading…

6 Special Vegan Mother’s Day Brunch Recipes

Buckwheat Crepes + Chocolate Sauce by Jenne Claiborne from Sweet Potato Soul

Anyone can take their mom out to eat for Mother’s Day — but if she’s vegan, why fight crowds and limited menu options? Your mom will be more impressed and grateful if you show your love by making a special brunch. These vegan Mother’s Day brunch recipes are healthy and tasty, and will please everyone at the table.

Let’s start with Jenné Claiborne’s Buckwheat Crepes with Chocolate Sauce, above. These whole grain crepes are delicious, filling, very pretty, and totally healthy! the chocolate sauce takes the crepes to the next level.
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VegKitchen’s Ashkenazic Passover Favorites

vegan matzo ball soup recipe

VegKitchen’s vegan Passover Seder recipes and menus (great for vegetarians too) focus on the fresh produce of early spring. Here’s a full menu for Ashkenazic (Eastern European)-style recipes, from matzo ball soup to dessert. If you want even more choices, go to our Vegan Passover Seder Recipes and Menus. That’s where you’ll find tips for putting together a plant-based Passover Plate, as well. First up, and central to the celebration, Spring Vegetable Soup with Vegan Matzo Balls. Continue Reading…

Vegan Picnic Treats for Spring

Quinoa and chickpea-stuffed bell peppers

Is there anything more quintessentially spring than a picnic? As the weather is warming up and the days are longer, now is the perfect time to head outside with a basket packed with vegan treats! And to help you get inspired with ideas of what to bring, here’s a roundup of great vegan recipes to explore:  Continue Reading…

10 Ways to Survive (and Thrive) as a Vegan Through the Holiday Season

vegan holidays

The holiday season, which defines that sometimes the period that includes Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s shindigs can be overwhelming for anyone, but for vegans, there are particular challenges. Here are VegKitchen’s tips for navigating both the culinary and emotional aspects of the holiday season, especially for the plant-based crowd, but for anyone who wants to celebrate healthfully and joyfully.

FOOD AND ENTERTAINING

Be a subtly persuasive guest: If you’re invited to a gathering where you suspect there will be limited food choices, volunteer to bring something really delicious (and preferably healthy to share. I’ve found that the best way to “spread the gospel” is by showing how tasty and satisfying vegan food can be. People are much more interested these days. Bring plenty of what you’re making, as I’ve found that everyone wants to try some of what we’re having.

Smoky vegan cheddar cheez recipe

Be a fabulous host: If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, it doesn’t have to be an 8-course meal that will leave you feeling exhausted and broke. If you want to host a gathering and want to do something simpler, think of a vegan appetizers and wine buffet (include something amazing, like the Smoky Vegan Cheddar Cheez, above), or a mid-day brunch. Both of these options can be lots of fun and infinitely simpler than a multi-course dinner. No matter what kind of event you’re hosting, also inquire about your guests’ food allergies in advance.

Think potluck: These days, when everyone is so crazy/busy, no one minds bringing one dish to share. Potlucks are fun and festive, and give everyone a chance to share favorite dishes. If it’s your house or apartment, you’re perfectly within your rights to set the rule of vegan dishes only. I’ve done that for years, and no one minds. It gives them a chance to stretch their skills and try new things. If someone is truly befuddled, ask them to bring a simple salad, bread, or wine.

Have fun veganizing old favorites. Emotionally fraught as holidays can be, at their best, they can be times of comfort and nostalgia. Aside from how wonderful it is for you to enjoy an old family favorite, showing others that egg nog can become “vegg nog,” that you can still have mashed potatoes and gravy, and that stuffing can be just as delicious if not stuffed into a bird, helps to spread the word that vegan holiday fare isn’t at all about sacrifice and deprivation. More proof: Even green bean casserole can be made in a vegan and healthy version (photo at top of post)— without canned mushroom soup!

Easy vegan mushroom gravy recipe

Veggies and fruits center stage: Even if you love comfort foods, give seasonal produce the a bigger role in your holiday fare than starches and sweets. Use an abundance of hardy fall vegetables, including a variety of squashes, pumpkins,  sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, the cruciferous vegetables, and fresh greens. Use lots of seasonal fruits (apples, pears, oranges, cranberries — on their own and in desserts) to reduce temptation to overdo sugary sweets. But even desserts can be healthy — after all, the main ingredient of our Easy Vegan Pumpkin or Squash Pie (see photo below) is a vegetable!

VEGAN HOLIDAYS: SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

Stand firm. If you’re a new vegan, it’s easy to be apologetic or waver if you’re questioned about your choices. In all the years I’ve been vegetarian (which was weird enough 40 years ago) and then vegan for more than a decade now, no one has gotten under my skin, because I won’t let that happen. Show confidence in your choices, and people are less likely to try to mess with you.

Save the debates for another time. If someone provokes you, intentionally or not, and you must say something at the holiday table, don’t stoop to their level. Keep it simple and make it about yourself, not them. “Being vegan makes me feel great physically, and I have a huge amount of mental energy.” is something I repeat often.

If someone gets right in your face about your choices, or asks a point-blank question (“What’s wrong with dairy? After all, the cow doesn’t have to die,” is one I hear a lot), I say, “I’ll be glad to share what I know about animal agriculture, but this isn’t the time or place for graphic details. If you really want to know, I’ll be glad to discuss this with you privately, when we’re not eating.”

Don’t succumb to guilt. Especially if you’re a new vegan in a non-vegan-friendly family, you might get those sad-eyed or withering looks from your parents, aunts and uncles, or grandparents. “What? You’re not going to have some of the XYZ, after so-and-so worked so hard to prepare it?” Be firm, and neutral. “I don’t eat XYZ any more, but I’m sure it’s delicious, and there will be more for everyone else.” Repeat as needed. The first year will be hardest. By year three, they’ll likely get tired of laying on the guilt.

Easy vegan pumpkin pie

Practice gratitude. Remember how fortunate those of us are who can actually make all the food choices we prefer, right down to buying the organic version of something. So many people around the world and even in this country go hungry and lack basic food security. Remembering that we’re among the lucky ones really helps put a lot of other, more petty things into perspective.

Give back. Following the last tip, do whatever you can around the holidays within your means, to alleviate the suffering and/or difficulties of fellow humans and animals. Even if you don’t have a lot of spare cash, you can donate your time, or goods you no longer need to women’s shelters, food banks, animal shelters or farm sanctuaries, and the like. As vegans, we all understand that compassion stretches far beyond the kitchen.

What is your strategy for navigating vegan holidays? Let us know in the comments.!

Vegan Recipes by VegKitchen logo
Vegan recipes by VegKitchen