Giving Thanks, with Less Harm


It was my turn to host the Thanksgiving dinner this year, for my family (minus vegetarian DS #2), my brothers-in-law, my mother-in-law, and my aunt-in-law. So, there were 11 of us at the table, in a mix of vegan, near-vegan, and omnivore. While I wasn’t willing to cook an only vegan meal (see my post about multivore families), I wanted to keep the harm level low. So, with the exception of some egg noodles, and two requested meat items, everything else on the table, including appetizers and desserts, was vegan.

I used my standard list of holiday recipes, with a twist here and there. I’ll be repeating at least the tooforkey, dressing, and pie before the holidays are over. I hope these recipes come in useful for your holidays, this year and beyond.

Home-made Tooforkey (Vegan)

Store bought tofu roasts are rather expensive for their size.  This home recipe takes some time (in fact, I suggest cooking the day before and then heating so it doesn’t tie up your oven, and I actually prefer it on day two and three), but it’s delicious and big!  This recipe was adapted from one by Bryanna Clark Grogan, over a few years of use and switching out items or adjusting amounts.

IMG_1292a2 c. vital wheat gluten
1/2 c. soy or chickpea flour
3/4 c. nutritional yeast flakes
1 t pepper
1 onion diced  finely
4 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 container of firm or extra firm tofu
3.5 c. water
3 t. vegetable broth powder (you can use the non-chicken chicken flavored type)
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. olive oil
1 t. liquid smoke
1 package vegan gravy, if desired

Blend tofu, 1 1/2 cups of water, 2 T soy sauce, liquid smoke, 1 T of the olive oil until smooth.  Once in a while, I will get a block of tofu that has been frozen at some point and it will not mix smoothly.  This is not preferable, but it’s not a tragedy.  Just do what you can. Add the finely chopped onion and 1/2 of the minced garlic.

Mix the gluten, flour, yeast, and pepper in a separate bowl.

Combine the two.  This will be much much easier if you have a dough hook and a stand mixer, but it can be done by hand.  If it is too wet to form a dough ball, add bits of soy or garbanzo flour until it is (this can happen if the tofu has more water in it due to prior freezing, if your measurements are a bit off, etc.).  Knead for about 10 minutes.  Cover the bowl with a warm towel and let it sit for about an hour.  It will rise some.  Knead again for about 10 more minutes.

Line a baking pan with parchment.  Shape the dough into a loaf, try to make it not too “deep” – 2-3 inches tall is preferable.  Mix the remaining water, veg broth powder, soy sauce, olive oil, and liquid smoke.  Pour this broth over the loaf and place in oven at 325*.  Bake for about 3.5 hours, turning it over half way through (I’ve forgotten to turn it and it wasn’t a problem).  Most of the broth will be gone when it’s done (if most of the broth has gone when you turn it, mix up and add another cup of broth).  Remove from oven and allow to “settle” for a while before serving.

As noted above, I recommend cooking this ahead of time.  The next day, place the loaf back into a baking pan, mix your vegan gravy, and pour over it and cover with foil.  Put it back in the oven and heat at 325* until warmed through.


Vegan Mushroom Onion Gravy

I did not actually make this, this year. I went with a store packet Hain vegan gravy, which we like just fine. But, this is good if you want to do better!

3/4 cup white or portobello mushrooms, chopped finely
1 small sweet onion, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups broth – either vegetable or faux chicken
2 T soy sauce
1 t liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste

Place 2 T. olive oil in frying pan and saute mushrooms and onions until the onions begin to carmelize.  Set aside.  Mix soy sauce and liquid smoke into broth and set aside.  In a large pan, add remaining oil and begin to heat.  Add flour and stir, forming a roux.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Begin adding broth mixture slowly, stirring constantly to prevent any lumping.  Once fully mixed, add mushrooms and onions.

Continue to stir gently while bringing gravy to a low boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and stir regularly until gravy thickens.  Salt/pepper to taste and serve over tofurkey or potatoes.


Vegan Dressing/Stuffing/Filling

Growing up in southern Indiana, we always had a bread based dish on Thanksgiving that we called “dressing.”  After I became an adult and was exposed to the horror of Stovetop stuffing, I discovered that some people cooked it inside of the bird (eww) and called it “stuffing.”  Then, I had friends whose families call it “filling.”  So, in my house, we now call it dressing-stuffing-filling.  Those of us who like it REALLY like it, and will eat it for days after, for any meal or snack.  I have now had this for four meals since Thursday.

1 large loaf of stale bread ripped into bite sized pieces**
1 large onion, diced small
4 stalks celery, sliced thin
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
2 cups vegetable broth
4 T vegan butter, softened
2 T white vinegar
4 T flour or starch (soy, potato, chickpea, corn)
3 t sage
2 t thyme
2 t black pepper
1 t salt

** You can use white, wheat, or a combination of breads.  Bread can be “staled” by either leaving in oven for a day or two prior or baking on a low temp until dry

Place ripped bread in large mixing pan.  Add spices, onions, and celery, and flour and toss gently.  In a separate pan, mix softened butter with soy milk and vinegar.  It should take on the consistency of oily buttermilk (sorry).  Add vegetable broth and stir.

Add liquid to dry ingredients and fold in.  If you like your loaf to be really dense and not have bread pieces still visible, stir more briskly for longer to break up the bread more.  If you prefer the bread bits, fold in gently.

Spoon mix into shallow baking pan, cover with foil, and cook at 350* until warmed through.  If it gets too dry as you cook, add a little more veggie broth.  After thoroughly warm, remove foil and continue cooking until top browns, visible liquid evaporates, and stuffing “sets.”  Time depends on what else you have going in the oven.  I would expect at least 45 minutes covered and another 15-20 uncovered.

Do not try to make a double batch in one pan unless you have time to cook for at least 2 hours.


Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

IMG_1261a IMG_1263a2 stalks of brussel sprouts
3 lb of sweet potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (optional)
Chili powder (optional)

For sprouts, remove sprouts from stalk and remove any loose leaves. Cut off woody end.

For sweet potatoes, scrub but don’t peel. Chop into bite sized bits.

Toss whichever veggie you selected in a large bowl with the olive oil and vinegar if desired. I like the vinegar on the sprouts but the chili powder on the potatoes. Add sea salt.

Pour onto a large baking sheets (I like cooking this in a stone pans) and place in oven at 450* and cook for 45 minutes (turn veggies in pan every 10 minutes or so for even roasting).  If needed, add foil over pan and cook an additional 10 minutes or until done.


Vegan Holiday Mashed Potatoes

This is a boring mashed potato recipe with extra fat for special occasions.

5 lb chopped potatoes (peeled or not)
4 T vegan butter
1/2 container vegan cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop potatoes (skins off) and put on to boil. When potatoes are tender, drain.

Add cream cheese and butter and mash. Salt and pepper to taste.


Baking Soda Biscuits

I had store biscuits this year, but include this here for the more ambitious!

4 c. sifted flour
1/2 c. vegan butter
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. soy milk
1.5  t vinegar

Whisk vinegar into soy milk so that it slightly curdles (like buttermilk).  Mix together the dry ingredients.  Cut in the vegan butter until like coarse meal. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add the faux “buttermilk” and stir to create a dough.  Knead for a minute or so on a floured board.  Pat or roll out (aim for between 1/2 and 2/3 inches deep).  Cut with a cutter or a lightly buttered cup top.  Place on an unoiled baking pan and bake at 450* for 10-12 minutes or lightly brown.


Vegan Broccoli Salad (Gluten-Free)

3 cups chopped broccoli stems (throw in a few crowns if desired)
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, shredded
1/2 cup vegan mayo
1 t apple cider vinegar
2 T raw sugar
1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix, and chill.  If desired, add vegan bacon bits immediately before serving.


Vegan Spinach Dip (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

1/2 cup vegan mayo
1 cup vegan sour cream
1 lb spinach, chopped (either fresh or use 1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thaw, and squeeze out water)
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 small can water chestnuts, diced (optional)
2 t dill
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t turmeric

Mix and chill overnight. Serve with bread or pita points.


Cranberry Relish (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

1 lb fresh cranberries
1 naval orange plus 1 T of orange zest
1/2 cup raw sugar

Place cranberries in a food processor and chop until fairly fine.  Add oranges and pulse until shredded and mixed.  Stir in sugar.  Chill and serve!


Vegan Pumpkin Brownie Pecan Pie

This recipe started at the Post Punk Kitchen, and was then adapted by Angela at Oh She Glows, and then by me. So so good.

IMG_1271aPumpkin Brownie Layer:

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Pumpkin Pie Layer:
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp soy or almond milk
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

Pecan Topping:
1/4 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cups chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a pie pan.

For brownie layer: In a stand mixer or by hand, mix together the coconut oil, pumpkin, vanilla, and sugar until blended well. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking, soda, sea salt and mix until incorporated. Take the entire mixture and place in pie pan. Wet spatula and spread around evenly so it is smooth.

For pumpkin layer: In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, vanilla, and milk. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch, sugar, and spices. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until all clumps are gone. Now add on top of brownie mixture. Garnish with grated chocolate.

For Pecan topping: Mix all ingredients until well combined and sprinkle on top of the pie.

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes and then move to the fridge to chill for 1.5 hours.


Vegan Pumpkin Pie

This recipe started out on The Vegan Spoonful and was very slightly adapted by me. I might have eaten it for three days straight at breakfast last year. This year, I made two.

IMG_1282a1 unbaked pie crust
2 cups pureed canned pumpkin
1 cup plain soy or coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pumpkin, non-dairy milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and spices in a large bowl, and mix very well with an electric mixer, food processor, or blender. Pour into unbaked pastry shell, and bake for about 60 minutes. The pie will still be jiggly when you take it out of the oven, but it will firm up as it cools.

Cool completely on a cooling rack, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving. Serve chilled and top with vegan whipped topping if desired.

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