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Thanksgiving Meal Ideas {vegan}

thanksgiving meal ideasThanksgiving can be a really fun or really stressful holiday for vegans. While Thanksgiving is about family and giving thanks, 46 million turkeys are raised just to be slaughtered for this one day. Not to mention the number of undercover videos and charges of animal abuse exposing huge companies like Butterball. I try my best to have a compassionate Thanksgiving. I like having a small “Thanksliving” meal at our house that is completely vegan and cruelty-free. Last year we had a combination of a pre-made Gardein Holiday Roast and a bunch of homemade sides. I’m still debating doing another Gardein roast this year or to do stuffed seitan.

Gardein Stuffed Roast

The following recipes are all either my own recipes, or recipes I’ve tried and would recommend as part of a delicious holiday meal. Whether you are looking to put together a completely vegan spread, or are just looking to make a vegan dish for guests, all of these are guaranteedto please.

And don’t forget to adopt a turkey! This is a Thanksgiving tradition that we started doing 3 years ago. You can adopt up until Nov. 24th and chose email certificate to have it in time for Thanksgiving this year.

Main CoursesDSC_1778

Seitan -Try this one stuffed with shiitakes and leeks.

Harvest Stuffed Portobellos – I made these a few years ago for my mom for Thanksgiving, and we both loved them.

Pot Pie or Shephard’s Pie (I like making the pot pie in a large baking dish instead of ramekins and making drop biscuits for the top)

Pre-made meals like Gardein, Tofurkey, or Field Roast. (We’ve had all of the different Gardein Turk’y varieties and really like them. Just make sure you buy double whatever the serving size says on the package, ie if it says “serves 8” it’s closer to 3-4 real servings.)

Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Sides

Veggies and dip – Slice up some veggies and pair with 1 container of Tofutti Sour Cream and vegetable dip packet of your choice.

Mashed potatoes – Use your normal recipe and sub butter with non-dairy margarine and milk for almond/soy milk.

Mushroom Gravy – I usually skip the wine and just add more broth or water.

Cranberry sauce – If you’ve never had real cranberry sauce, give this super simple recipe a try.

Cranberry Sauce

Stuffing – I love stuffing, this is a great basic recipe. I like to throw in cranberries too.

Deviled potatoes – These are really good!

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts 

“Cheddar” Bay Biscuits

Roasted Veggies

Pumpkin and Corn Curry Soup

Mac and Cheese or this sweet potato mac and cheese

mushrooms8Stuffed Mushrooms

Green Bean Casserole – I do this super simple and roast green beans with minced garlic, onions, and loads of nutritional yeast.

Pumpkin Pie

Desserts

Pumpkin Pie – Make this! It’s simple and amazing.

Cheesecake (or these mini pumpkin cheesecakes)

Apple Pie

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting – This is one of my absolute favorites.

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies

Italian Apple Cake – Another Chloe Coscarelli recipe that is out of this world.

Cranberry Orange/Pineapple Bread – Really good!

Cranberry mini loaf

What will you be eating this Thanksgiving? Do you have any family traditions that you do every year?

My Raw Vegan Pilgrimage to Pure Food and Wine

Pure Food and Wine
Pure Food and Wine
Pure Food and Wine
Pure Food and Wine

I’ve been a fan of One Lucky Duck and Pure Food and Wine for years, ever since I discovered raw food-ism. There is a high-end, gourmet feel to their brand, and I think it’s well deserved. I’ve ordered from the site and visited the takeout bar a bunch of times, but I finally made it to PF&W this past weekend.

I always had an excuse for not going, it was too expensive or I didn’t plan well enough to make a reservation in time, but after their brief hiatus earlier this year, I made it a point to get there ASAP.

Pure Food and Wine Garden
Pure Food and Wine Garden

It was a bit chilly when I got there, but I asked if I could sit in the garden. The hostess was super nice and said of course, and gave me a choice of seats. It was just after 2pm and there were a few tables of people, but it was very quiet and peaceful.

Pure Food and Wine Corner Seat
My Corner Seat

The garden area was beautiful. The plants and trees were a nice little oasis in the city and I can only imagine how gorgeous it must be at night with the lighting they have.

Pure Food and Wine
Pure Food and Wine

I was glad it wasn’t crowded because I had the opportunity to take pictures without disturbing anyone and really got to enjoy the atmosphere. The wait staff were really helpful and attentive. Right away my server asked if I had any questions about the food.  I asked for tea mid-meal and they brought me a menu and tea within minutes. I also added some to-go items which my server helped pick.

Tea - Indian White
Tea – Indian White
Spicy Sesame Salad
Spicy Sesame Salad

I ordered the Spicy Sesame Salad (shredded cabbage, beets, jicama, daikon, cashew, sesame crunch, wasabi aioli), Mint Sundae
(chocolate, fresh mint, and mint chip ice creams, mint chocolate cookies, chocolate sauce, vanilla cream), a pot of Indian White tea, and a Mallomar (chocolate coated pecan cookie with vanilla cream) and Moon Pie (chocolate brownie vanilla cream sandwich) to go.

Honestly, I came for the mint sundae. Pictures don’t do it justice. I almost didn’t order it because I read a yelp review that said it wasn’t that great, but I’m glad I didn’t listen. It was amazing.

Mint Sundae
Mint Sundae

The spicy sesame salad was also really good. I got a salad because I was pretty hungry and I knew how filling the salads were. I was afraid if I got one of the smaller entrees I’d still be hungry, but now I’m kind of regretting not trying something more fun. I did like the Mediterranean Salad (arugula, kale, kalamata olives, tomatoes, pumpkin seed macadamia parmesan, balsamic vinaigrette) that I got another time at the take out bar a little bit better than the Spicy Sesame because of the kalamata olives and the parmesan, but both were huge and really filling.

Mediterranean Salad
Mediterranean Salad

I ordered a Mallomar to go because they are incredible, but I should’ve just eaten it while I was there because it was crushed by the time I got on the train. I still ate every single drop. To be fair, the server recommended the Chocolate Caramel Bar (chocolate dipped pecan caramel bar) because it would hold up better, bit I’m a sucker for the Mallomar. The Moon Pie held up perfectly. I got it for my mom and she raved about it. They look pretty small, but they’re really rich and it is the perfect amount.

Smushed Mallomar
Smushed Mallomar
Mallomar
Mallomar Not Smushed
Moon Pie
Moon Pie
Moon Pie
Moon Pie
Chocolate Caramel Bar
Chocolate Caramel Bar
Pure Food and Wine Garden
Pure Food and Wine Garden

I can’t wait to go back!

NYC’s Best Food Truck…

The Cinnamon Snail
The Cinnamon Snail

This past weekend was the 10th annual Vendy Awards in NYC.  The Vendy Awards is a celebration of the city’s best food vendors, and it helps raise money for their cause. From their website:

There are more than 10,000 street vendors in New York City — hot dog vendors, book vendors, street artists, and many others. They’re small businesspeople struggling to make ends meet by working long hours in often harsh conditions.  Most street vendors are immigrants and people of color and often face discrimination though unjust legislation supported by established business interests. In recent years, vendors have become victims of New York’s aggressive “quality of life” crackdown. Denied access to vending licenses, they receive $1,000 tickets for minor violations like vending too close to a crosswalk — more than any big business is required to pay for similar violations.

The event was held on Governer’s Island, and it was the perfect place for it. I’d never been there before and it was beautiful. We took the 11 am ferry, so it was free (it’s only $2 round trip if you catch an afternoon one). The amount of bees was a little alarming though. I don’t think they bothered any people, but the way they were attacking donuts was like a scene out of a cheesy horror movie. I got a picture of a donut with like 5 bees on it, but there were others that were totally covered and you could barely see any donut. #beesTakeManhattan

Bees enjoying the Dough donuts
Bees enjoying the Dough donuts

The very first thing I had was a Maple cucumber-mint slushy from Snowday. It sounds weird, but they were little samples so I figured why not. I’m glad I did because it was really light and tasty. My dad also tried the maple grilled cheese and said it was good. Snowday won the Rookie of the Year award, and what’s really neat about their truck, is that they are operated by Drive Change, a non profit that builds and operates locally sourced food trucks that hire, teach and empower formerly incarcerated youth.

Maple Cucumber Mint Slushy from Snowday
Maple Cucumber Mint Slushy from Snowday

A few steps later we were handed falafels from King of Falafel & Shawarma. They were seasoned perfectly with a crisp outside and soft chewy center. I may have had 2…

King of Falafel
King of Falafel

Chickpea and Olive was the first vegan vendor that we saw and their beet burger blew me away. My dad (very much not vegetarian) liked it so much that when we got home he tried to recreate it. I know I didn’t try the other Best of Market nominees, but I thought that Olive and Chickpea was a guaranteed win because the burger was amazing.

Phatty Beet Slider and Carolina Southern Slaw
Phatty Beet Slider and Carolina Southern Slaw

Somewhere in between the beet slider and getting drinks, we grabbed some ice cream samples from Alchemy Creamery. First I grabbed the Almond Marzipan, and then I tried the Salted Peanut Butter. Both were really, really tasty. As we were leaving I kind of wanted to grab another peanut butter one, but I was afraid if I ate anymore I might sink the ferry. =/ The other (non vegan) ice cream vendor had 3 different really funky/delicious sounding flavors and they won the best dessert category. I think maybe if Alchemy Creamery jazzed up their presentation if they could’ve won.

Alchemy Creamery
Alchemy Creamery

Not going to lie, I was a little biased knowing that the Cinnamon Snail was going to be competing, but it was amazing that there were 3 other exclusively vegan vendors and others that had vegan/vegetarian options. And luckily they were all in separate categories, so they all got my vote!

I mean how could you not think that this Vanilla Bourbon Creme Bruelee Donut isn’t the best thing ever. (Sidenote: I forgive you Cinnamon Snail for my temporary bout of diabetes.)

Vanilla Bourbon Creme Brulee Donut with Maker's Mark Custard filling
Vanilla Bourbon Creme Brulee Donut with Maker’s Mark Custard filling from Cinnamon Snail

The VIP tickets were totally worth it. We only waited about 5 minutes to get checked in and then got to eat for a whole hour before general admission was opened up. This was kind of a good and a bad thing. It was wonderful being able to walk around with no lines and not many people, but at the same time, I wanted to stuff my face before the lines got long and I felt like I was going to explode in that first hour. I almost held off on getting food from NY Dosas, but I made a vow (to myself) to try all of the vegan offerings, and I’m so glad I did because the flavors were out of this world. I even got an explanation of how they’re made and got to take pictures (see gallery below) of the process.

Dosa with coconut and mint sauces and veg soup
Dosa with coconut and mint sauces and vegetable soup

The rain held off for a good portion of the day, but we decided to leave when it really picked up. We took a little break to let our food digest and explored the island a bit (a post of the art galleries coming soon), so by the time it started pouring we were a bit cold and tired. We missed the awards, but we in the car home I was ecstatic that the Cinnamon Snail won the Vendy Cup! Sorry if this post is sounding a little fan girl-ish, but well, they totally deserved it. It might not be fair for me to judge considering the fact that I didn’t try the meat dishes, but it makes me so happy that a panel of judges found a vegan dish to be the best. Whenever people say “I don’t like vegan food” (cue my inner eye roll) or other things about how boring it is I just want to explain that it doesn’t have to be boring and bland. The Cinnamon Snail has proved that vegan food can beat out some of the best meat dishes based on taste alone.

Winning Snail Platter
Habanero Buffalo Cauliflower – Beer battered cauliflower florest grilled with habanero sauce, served on a toasted baquette with roasted garlic ranch, arugula, and dill pickles
Korean BBQ Seitan Tacos – Smoked chili grilled seitan with homemade kimchi, marinated greens, and sriracha cream on soft corn tortillas
Sage Tempeh Sausage Slider – Served with lavender roasted leeks, kalamata olive tapenafe, truffled cashew cheese, fried sage leaves, and arugula

I heard some people outside of the gate saying there’s no way they could eat enough food truck food to justify buying a ticket. Well, there was also All You Can Drink beer, wine, soda, water, tea, coconut water, juice, etc… And besides walking around eating all day, you’re supporting a cause and helping people. This was my first year going, but I’m already looking forward to next year!

Brooklyn Brewery Pale Ale