Vegan Thanksgiving Menu Ideas
Raw Vegan Salads:
Vegan Thanksgiving Entrees:
Vegan Side Dishes:
Vegan Decadent Desserts (These are not low fat):
My new recipe eBook Vegan Comfort Foods From Around The World is now available!
I originally wanted to release this in the spring, but I decided to double the amount of recipes included in it and take more delicious photographs! It’s got over 60 recipes in it. All are 100% oil free, low in fat and based on whole foods like potatoes, yams/sweet potatoes/ rice, beans and lentils. There’s absolutely NO fake meat and no fake cheese in these recipes either!
I also teach you how to cook brown rice, Indian rice, quinoa and pasta so you can have delicious side dishes.
Oh and did I mention there are 5 different gravy recipes too? As well as cheezy sauce, hummus, baba ghanoush, roasted red pepper hummus, tangy ranch dip and queso sauce, so you’ll never again wonder what to put on your vegetables!
Some of my favorite recipes include:
So check it out:
Long grain Indian Basmati rice is a little different from the typical white rice. It is long and thin and, if cooked properly, can be light and fluffy and delicious. Quite often it can be overcooked and turn out sticky and mushy. Follow these directions for the best white Indian Basmati rice.
1. Measure rice and add to a bowl or mesh strainer. Rinse with cold water 3 times moving the grains around with your hands.
2. Add rice to a bowl and soak with 1-½ times as much cold water for firm rice and double the water for softer rice. Add ½ tsp. of salt for every cup of rice. (This is optional, it helps the grains stay firmer and not stick together.) Let the rice sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This helps stop the grains from breaking and sticking together.
3. Transfer rice and water to a heavy bottomed pot and cover with a fitted lid. If it has a steam vent cover it with a small cloth.
4. Turn to high heat and bring to a boil.
5. When it’s at a rolling boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes. DO NOT PEEK OR OPEN THE LID.
6. Turn off the heat and let the rice steam for 5-10 minutes.
7. Fluff with a fork and serve.
1. Measure rice and add to a bowl or mesh strainer. Rinse with cold water 3 times moving the grains around with your hands.
2. Add rice to a bowl and soak with double the cold water as rice. Add ½ tsp. of salt for every cup of rice. (This is optional, it helps the grains stay firmer and not stick together.) Let the rice sit for 30 minutes.
3. Transfer rice and soaking water to rice cooker pan and set the white rice/regular cook setting.
4. Allow rice to steam for 5-10 minutes when cooking cycle is complete.
5. Fluff with a fork and serve.
For firmer more al dente rice, at the beginning, just rinse in cold water and skip the soaking time. Combine water and rice in a rice cooker and cook on the white rice/regular cook setting.
For cooking brown basmati rice over the stove, use 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. Bring to a boil and cook it covered over a simmer for 35-40 minutes. Let it stand 10-20 minutes after done cooking to finish steaming.
For brown basmati rice in the rice cooker set it to the brown rice setting.
Tip: You can also add any additional Indian spices such as cumin seeds, cardamom pods, mustard seeds, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, turmeric etc. to the soaking water to flavor your rice.
In my recipe books I cook all of my own beans from scratch because it’s less expensive and overall tastes much better. It’s also a good way to control the amount of sodium in your diet and you can cook your beans with or without added salt. For those of you interested in cooking your own chickpeas/garbanzo beans, it’s probably because you’ve gotten hooked on how amazingly delicious (and cheap) it is to make your own.
I recommend making a big batch if you are going to go to the trouble of cooking chickpeas/garbanzos yourself. You can save any leftovers in containers or bags and freeze them for later, or you can just make a double batch of your recipe to use them all up and have meals for the week. The best tip I have for flavorful chickpeas is to use a bay leaf and some seaweed like kombu. When you’re not using salt, (or much at all) beans can taste very bland and these seasonings will greatly enhance the flavor of your chickpeas over the canned versions.
(If you’re looking for directions for cooking non-soaked chickpeas, scroll to the bottom)
Step #1: Pick through your dried chickpeas/garbanzos and remove any bits of rock, broken shells, gross looking chickpeas, random other beans etc.
Step #2: Rinse your chickpeas and place into a large bowl or container. Add 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans that you are making. Let the beans soak overnight, or first thing in the morning so you can make them for dinner. I find that chickpeas are fine if they are soaked 5-8 hours, but when I soak them overnight they get overcooked really easily and are disappointing. Try not to soak your beans more than 8 hours if leaving them overnight. If you you do, it’d be better to cook them over the stove as there is less risk of overcooking when you use a pressure cooker.
Step #3: Drain and rinse the chickpeas again in a colander.
Step #4: For cooking the beans on the stovetop add 3 cups of water for each 1 cup of dried chickpeas and bay leaves and/or a kombu seaweed strip for flavour. Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium-medium low heat for 1-2.5 hours until they give to pressure. (it depends on size, small beans cook faster) Make sure they are not crunchy inside and are cooked through. Since each bean has a different size, the cooking times will vary. You can add salt or additional seasonings if desired part way through cooking, but this is optional.
If you have an EZ Bean Cooker or digital pressure cooker you DON’T HAVE TO presoak your chickpeas. You can just rinse them and put them in a pressure cooker and 3 cups of water to every 1 cup of dried chickpeas. Season if desired. Choose the garbanzo (80 min) setting on your EZ Bean Cooker or program for 80 minutes on a digital pressure cooker. Once the timer goes off release the pressure from the valve and let the pressure continue to drop. Drain and use chickpeas as desired.
Step #1: Pick through your dried chickpeas/garbanzos and remove any bits of rock, broken shells, gross looking chickpeas, random other beans etc.
Step #2: Rinse your chickpeas and place into a large bowl or container. Add 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans that you are making. Let the beans soak overnight, or first thing in the morning so you can make them for dinner. I find that chickpeas are fine if they are soaked 5-8 hours, but when I soak them overnight they get overcooked really easily and are disappointing. Try not to soak your beans more than 8 hours if leaving them overnight. If you you do, it’d be better to cook them over the stove as there is less risk of overcooking when you use a pressure cooker. *Note see below for Non-soaking method for cooking chickpeas.
Step #3: Drain and rinse the chickpeas again in a colander. When using a pressure cooker use enough water to just cover the beans beans and add bay leaves/kombu/a little salt or baking soda if desired and cook for the recommended time on a pressure cooker timing chart. For chickpeas it’s around 5-7 minutes at high pressure in a stove top pressure cooker. (Less if you soaked them 8+ hours) Ultimate Pressure Cooking Chart is a good starting point of reference, but I find their times to be a little high for my gas stove pressure cooker. Always start with a lower time the first time. Once you figure out your perfect time, it’s best to write it down so you remember for next time. (Like the amount of hours you soaked the chickpeas and the number of minutes cooked at high pressure.)
When pressure cooking, keep it on high heat until it reaches full pressure (a steady stream of steam coming out), then reduce it to medium-medium high heat (depending how hot your stove is) and cook for the time indicated in your manual or the pressure cooking chart. I like to play it safe as cook a at least a minute or two less than the charts stipulate. Turn off the heat as soon as the timer goes off. Once the pressure has been reduced and it’s safe to open the lid you can check the beans and see if they are cooked enough.
Note: I do not use oil when cooking my beans with a pressure cooker myself. Most companies recommend that you do so that you don’t get bean foam clogging up the pressure release valve and make a mess. I prefer to cook everything without oil.
To alleviate this foam problem, I use what’s called the “Quick Release Method” by turning off the heat once the timer goes off and then move the pressure cooker into the sink and run cold water on top of the lid until it cools down and the pressurized release opens. This way I do not get any bean foam coming out or making a mess. (This works only for stovetop pressure cookers.)
For the electric pressure cookers it can be a little trickier. You can unplug it and place it in the sink and run cold water on it, or you can put a towel over the top and turn the valve and let out the pressure that way, but there will be bean juice and foam coming out of it and it will soak your towel.
For most things I let the pressure come down naturally, but especially when cooking black beans you need to do the quick release method or else they will be mushy and overcooked. They are very finicky and can only be pressure-cooked 1-2 minutes maximum.
If you forget to soak your chickpeas or beans the night before or in the morning and you want to make a recipe that day you can do the “Quick Soak Method”.
Place your dried beans into a pot and fill with water 3 inches above the beans. Bring to a full boil and then turn off the heat and remove from the stove. Cover and let the beans soak in this hot water for 1 hour. Drain and then cook as above, and your beans should be similar to beans soaked for 8 hours. Please make sure you cook them afterwards, this is just a quick soak method and not a quick cooking method.
Once your beans are cooked, you can drain them and use them in a recipe, or you can save them in their cooking water and freeze in smaller portions.
Bean cooking liquid is great served over rice or potatoes (if it’s a little seasoned) so don’t just throw it away.
For the best taste in your chickpeas I always recommend using 2 bay leaves, kombu seaweed (if you can find it) and seasoning with a little salt or kelp. If you don’t season the beans at all they will be very bland and probably taste dry and pasty! So I don’t recommend this. Fresh thyme is another delicious suggestion.
Kombu is available at Asian markets and health food stores beside the Nori seaweed. But you probably won’t find this at a regular grocery store though.
Have you ever cooked your own chickpeas before? What’s your favorite chickpea recipe?
Brown rice takes much longer to cook than white rice and sometimes it can be confusing why your brown rice didn’t turn out if you have never cooked it before. Brown rice is a whole grain and still contains the outer layer of bran. White rice has just been de-hulled and reveals the white endosperm inside. Any rice that contains the outer layer of bran will look brown and can be called brown “rice”.
So let me show you how to cook brown rice in 2 easy ways, on the stovetop or in a rice cooker.
I suggest setting your rice cooker to cook 1 to 2 hours before your main dish is ready to ensure that it is ready on time. For basic rice cookers it’s about 1 hour of cook time, for the Zojirushi it’s about 2 hours because it adds a soaking cycle (and produces better brown rice.)
Although most pasta comes with cooking instructions on the package, sometimes people over cook their pasta and some helpful pointers are in order.
It’s best to cook pasta in clean filtered water as opposed to warm or hot water for the best taste. Although hot water boils faster, it comes from your hot water heater and can taste different from cold water. Use a large glass or stainless steel pot for cooking your pasta.
Step 1: Fill up a large 4-5 quart pot with cool filtered water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling you can add a little salt if desired. (This is personal preference, omit if you are following a low sodium diet.) Note: it is a myth that salted water boils faster, it in fact takes longer to boil. So add salt only once your water is at a rolling boil.
Step 2: Add your dried pasta and stir to make sure that it doesn’t stick.
Step 3: Start timing your pasta when the water comes back to a boil.
Step 4: Stir as necessary to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Step 5: When pasta is cooked to desired tenderness turn off heat and pour into a colander to drain. Do not rinse.
Step 6: Toss or top with sauce and serve.
Tip: Pasta will clump together if left for more than a few minutes, so use immediately or gently run a little water over it and turn it to break up the pasta clumps.
For cooking pasta that you want to bake in a casserole I suggest cooking it for only 5 minutes. Then toss with the rest of your ingredients and bake at 350F /177 C for about 20-30 minutes until heated through and the pasta is at desired tenderness.
1 cup of small dry pasta shapes weighs about 4 oz./113.4 g and will make 2 1/2 cups cooked.
4 oz./113.4 g pasta noodles or a 1-inch bunch will make 2 cups of cooked pasta.
Today I want to talk to you about something that could secretly be sabotaging your weight-loss goals. Something so popular in America many people don’t even think twice about eating regularly. Some may even think that it’s OK to eat or even “harmless”.
I’m talking about store-bought salad dressings and the fact that they are probably making you fat… or at least keeping you fat!
Those creamy, oily, sugary processed salad dressings that come in hundreds and hundreds of different flavors could be keeping you fat.America is convinced that although salad is health food, the only way to choke down bland and boring lettuce is to slather it in rich decadent dressing.
I really don’t like store bought dressings. I actually despise them and almost NEVER use them.
I’ve had so many salads in my life that pretty much any store bought salad dressing turns my stomach. Even those oil-free supposedly “healthy” salad dressings (which in no way shape or form are even remotely healthy.)
Often times creamy dressings have even MORE calories than pure oil. How can they manage to make a dressing worse than pure concentrated fat? By adding high fructose corn syrup to it!
Check out the calorie count of some popular salad dressings:
Calories and Fat in 2 TBS Caesar Salad Dressing
150 cals 16 g
Calories and Fat in 2 TBS Thousand Island Dressing
140 cals 13 g
Calories and Fat in 2 TBS French Dressing
120 cals 12 g
Calories and Fat in 2 TBS Olive Oil
120 cals 14 g
Now while you may think that 100-200 calories of dressing is not a big deal, I want you to ask yourself, when was the last time you had a gigantic salad and only used 1 or 2 TBSP of dressing? It is extremely hard to make the dressing stretch that far and give your salad enough flavor. Many lunch salads come with 2-4 oz of salad dressing. Did you know that’s the equivalent of 4-8 tablespoons? That can be an extra 300-600 calories in your dressing alone!
A green salad with some vegetables might have between 50 and 100 calories depending on how many vegetables you add to it. If you’re also tossing some nuts, avocado, cheese, bacon or chicken onto that salad as well you can be adding another 200-500 calories and your “innocent” little lunch salad is looking rather indulgent compared to a fast food hamburger (which is mostly bread anyway and lower in fat). A high fat diet has been shown time and time again to negatively impact those with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other common diseases.
P.S. Check out my healthier raw vegan Caesar salad dressing recipe.
Most women think that the key to losing weight is to skip their regular lunch fare and just have a salad for lunch. Well as we learned above, what you put in your salad and what dressing you choose really matters in terms of calorie and fat content. Drizzling dressing haphazardly over your daily salad is not going to help you reach your weight-loss goals if you already have a problem with portion control and late night snacking.
Many dressings are based on 3 things, oil/fat, vinegar and high fructose corn syrup. Next they add in artificial flavourings, colours and preservatives and salt. None of these items are good for you, and they are all 100% refined. While the low calorie dressings may seem like a “better” choice, they are still based on vinegar and high fructose corn syrup, and let’s face it, you deserve better than that to build your body with. Artificial colours such as “caramel” (also used in colas) are added to many store bought dressings to make it look better but caramel colouring has been labeled in California as “known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.” 1.
So what is the solution then?
Figure out how to MAKE your own tasty and nutritious salad dressings from WHOLE FOODS and healthy fats. It’s a good idea to learn how to master both low calorie and nut based dressings so you have a variety to choose from and you don’t have to eat the same ones week in and week out.
For this weekend only I’m giving away a copy of ’70 Healthy Salad Dressings’ when you buy the GOLD package of my new ebook ‘Simply DecadentSmoothies’. Essentially you are getting 2 ebooks for the price of one and access to over 120 whole foods recipes you can make in any old blender in 5 minutes or less.
I have to say I much prefer homemade salad dressings to store bought ones. Even though they take a few minutes to prepare and don’t last for months in the fridge they are infinitely tastier and better for you. Also instead of adding nuts to my salads, I prefer to blend nuts or seeds into my salad dressings instead of using oil. Ingredients like hemp seeds, tahini (sesame seed butter) almond butter and chia seeds are some of my favorites. I also make some really tasty fat free salad dressings with fresh citrus juice and
If you make salad dressing just once every 3 days you’ll be well on your way to having a heart healthy AND waist line friendly salad that will help you achieve your weight loss goals.
What’s your favorite homemade salad dressing recipe?
Breakfast ideas during the week: large fruit smoothie, large green smoothie, steel cut oats with dried fruit and nuts, fruit salad with toast and jam and/or peanut butter, fruit salad with coconut or almond yogurt (available at the health food store), fruit salad and a whole grain muffin etc. See my ‘Simply Decadent Smoothies’ recipe ebook for delicious ideas.
Today I want to talk to you about something new and exciting that I’m experimenting with…
My good friend Kevin Gianni from Renegade Health absolutely loves including homemade healthy cultured foods in his diet. And for good reason.Many of us have or have had impaired digestion at one time or another in our lives. Maybe it was from a processed foods diet, frequent use of antibiotics, or even a run in with a parasite while traveling.Or you may have a more serious condition like chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, celiacs disease, Crohn’s disease or colitis.
If any of these situations resonate with you, then keep reading. I’m going to share with you the benefits of eating homemade cultured foods and why you should consider adding them to your diet.
Proper digestion is crucial when it comes to building and maintaining a healthy body and immune system. So when your digestion is out of whack you can experience a lot of pain, bloating and discomfort and possibly even end up with some absorption problems depending on the severity of your issue.
If you need some help with building more beneficial bacteria in your system you should check out Kevin’s new book called
Let’s take a look at some other reasons you may want to include cultured foods in your diet:
We all know how much people love the taste of fermented foods like cheese, yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, miso, and traditional pickles. They have an interesting tangy and complex flavour that ads zip to whatever you’re eating.
Even if you’re vegan there are many delicious cultured foods to experiment with and try making at home. Almost any vegetable can be turned into a delicious fermented food!
On top of the existing vitamins and minerals vegetables provide naturally, the beneficial bacteria in cultured foods produce new enzymes and additional minerals which increases their nutrition content. So fermented foods can be a great “good for you” condiment for any meal.
Processed and refined foods can damage the sensitive villi in your digestive tract and kill off the beneficial bacteria that resides in them. By bringing in new cultured and fermented foods you can help repopulate your intestinal flora with beneficial bacteria and help restore your natural PH balance.
Probiotics generally only contain 1 or 2 main strains of beneficial bacteria, but homemade fermented foods can develop many more strains of good bacteria and diversify the flora in your digestive tract.
Many oral and dental health issues such as gingivitis, halitosis, and cavities occur because of a proliferation of bad bacteria in the mouth. When you eat fermented foods that are rich in lactic acid and other beneficial bacterias they can reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in your mouth and keep them in check.
Some of the delicious fermented foods included in Kevin Gianni’s recipe ebook are:
If fermented foods sound like something you’re considering including in your diet check out Kevin’s ebook Cultured: Learn To Make Healthy Fermented Foods At Home:
What’s your favorite cultured food to eat?
There are a few tools that will help you make the best tasting smoothies. The most important is obviously a good blender. I recommend using a high power blender if you are serious about making delicious smoothies regularly and if it fits your budget.
My preferred blender of choice is a VitaMix because of the superior motor, warranty and large size (64 oz.) container. I use it almost daily, some days multiple times! It’s excellent for breaking down fruits and greens into tiny particles, which results in a very smooth and creamy end product. It’s also excellent for making blended soups, (raw or cooked), homemade salad dressings, sauces, and baby food. It is the first major kitchen gadget I suggest everyone invest in, as it is by far the most used in my kitchen.
If a high-powered blender seems a little out of reach for your budget at the moment, consider doing what many others do. Forgo that weekly (or even daily) gourmet coffee or shake and save that money towards getting a blender in 6-12 months. If you save just $10 a week you will be have enough to purchase any high-powered blender you desire in less than a year. I know many of you spend much more than that each week on beverages while you’re on the go our out dining!
Another high-powered blender you may consider would be a Blend-Tec, which is a little different than the Vitamix in that it has preprogrammed settings, no tamper (which I use to make Banana Icecream from frozen bananas) and a smaller container.
For now though as long as you have a blender that works you can start making these smoothies recipes. Just know that the more items you put into the blender and the harder they are to blend the longer it will take to make and you could possibly burn out the motor. So take care when adding greens and frozen fruit to a regular blender. Either chop (or rip) the ingredients into smaller pieces or let the frozen fruit thaw on the counter for 5 minutes before adding to the blender. Adding more liquid than I specify in the recipe will help too. The amount of liquid I use is what works in my VitaMix so you may need more for a regular blender to get things moving.
The key to making a delicious whole food and sugar free smoothie is to use fully ripe and quality ingredients. Also you don’t have to throw a lot of things into it like some witch’s brew. I prefer to use only 2-4 ingredients to make a fruit smoothie and I generally start with a base of ripe (very spotted) bananas or ataulfo/champagne (yellow skinned) mangoes and then I add other things like ripe papaya, pineapple, berries, peaches, plums, spinach, etc. Whatever is ripe and sweet tasting can go into a great tasting smoothie.
The biggest crime at smoothie bars is probably using underripe yellow bananas or even worse yellow bananas with green still on them. Bananas contain a lot of starch and the enzymes in the bananas have to process the raw starch and convert it into natural sugars for it to taste sweet instead of sticky and pasty. To compensate they put in sugar, when it’s really not necessary.
Please see my post on How To Tell If A Banana Is Ripe for more details.
The best tip for having quality ripe produce every day for smoothies or recipes is to make sure you are buying it at least a week in advance. I always have bananas and mangoes or papayas (when in season) ripening on the counter. It generally takes 4-8 days to ripen (I’m in Canada and it’s not hot or humid right now) on the counter in cooler climates. In tropical and subtropical places fruit can ripen in 3-4 days and then be stored in the refrigerator when it’s ripe. Frozen berries or bags of pineapple or mango are great additions to a base of ripe bananas or even fresh papaya.
Creating your own green smoothie recipe is much the same as creating your own fruit smoothie with a sweet fruit as the base, and then you just add in a handful or two of your desired greens.
Please note that a green smoothie does not mean adding tough green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, green beans, etc. A green smoothie is essentially a fruit smoothie with LEAFY greens added.
Generally speaking if you are new to green smoothies or apprehensive about trying them you should start off with a mild tasting green like baby spinach, or leaf lettuce. These can be added in quantities of a cup or two (depending on your tastes) and you should not notice much flavor from them at all. Then once you are used to that you can venture into trying new greens.
When using a leafy green that has a tough stalk like kale or Swiss chard, remove the leaf from the stem and only use the leaves. Discard the stem, or steam or add to a stir-fry later. They are harder to blend and don’t add a pleasant flavor to your green smoothie.
Generally you shouldn’t add sprouts to green smoothies, as they are quite bitter. You can add small quantities of mild sprouts like sunflower or pea shoots though if you like. But please do not add raw sprouted beans or sprouted grains to your smoothies.
You may know of some wild edibles (generally weeds that are edible) in your area, but make sure to always practice caution and be certain what plant you are eating if you pick it in the wild. For more information on wild edibles please check out Sergei Boutenko’s website.
Rotating your greens that you use in your smoothies each month is important. Try not to use the same green every week or every month. Some people can have an adverse reaction to using just baby spinach or kale in every single smoothie. Rotating your greens is something that Victoria Boutenko highly recommends. You can check out her books Green For Life and Green Smoothie Revolution.
The following greens should be added in small quantities at first so you get used to them:
If you want to serve green smoothies to your loved ones, or friends it might be a good idea to mask the color of the smoothie if they have never had one before. As soon as people see something green, they tend to think, “Hmm that probably doesn’t taste very good even though it’s good for me” and they may turn their nose up at it and decline.
First make sure you taste test the smoothie and use ripe fruit like banana or mango to ensure that it is naturally sweet enough. Secondly you may want to add some berries to the smoothie to hide the green color and turn it more of a blue or purple color. People seem to be more open to drinking smoothies that are red, purple or yellow and not green! And last of all you can add a pretty little garnish to your smoothie like a fresh berry, a pineapple wedge, an orange slice, or a small leafy green so that it looks pretty and presentable.