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Vegan Holiday Hotline – 2014 Edition


It’s that time of year again!  We all know holiday meals can be stressful, especially for new vegans whose extended families may be accustomed to a turkey on the table. That’s why I’m here to take the stress-work out of the holidays. There are lots of ways to stay calm and enjoy the day.

If you’re having omnivore guests for Thanksgiving, let them discover how delicious a turkey-free Thanksgiving can be by serving a menu of delicious seasonal dishes. I love traditions, so whenever I cook a holiday meal at home, whether for two people or twenty, I like to prepare a big feast with all the trimmings. Here are some tips:

I never debut an untried new dish for company, and I encourage you to do likewise. If you want to make something new to you, plan to make it once before the big day so you know in advance what to expect from a particular recipe. This will help eliminate the stress factor when you make it the second time around, because by then, you’re an expert.

  • When cooking for non-vegan guests, the menu should include a few familiar dishes. Holidays are not the time to try out that new quinoa-hemp seed dish. If you have some favorite family side dishes, you might want to include them in your menu to provide a familiar touchstone. Familiar favorites such as cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, can help to quell any anxiety of relatives who may think they’ll starve if they can’t eat meat.
  • Many traditional holiday recipes (especially the side dishes) can be easily made with plant-based ingredients such as vegetable broth, Earth Balance, and non-dairy milk – and no one will know the differences.
  • When it comes to a main dish, I suggest featuring a “centerpiece” dish such as a thinly sliced vegan roast or loaf, garnished with roasted vegetables, or perhaps a stuffed squash (or several individual stuffed squash halves) served with a luscious vegan gravy.
  • If you’re not much for old traditions, make some new ones! Prepare a large pan of lasagna or mac and cheese with a big salad, or go global with an Ethiopian feast or Spanish tapas.
  • For those occasions when I’m a guest at someone’s home, I always offer to bring something to the dinner table – I usually make a hearty casserole of some kind that can double as a main dish for us but be enjoyed as a side for all the non-vegans who will invariably want a “taste.” If I have time, I also like to bring a vegan dessert, mostly to serve as an ambassador of plant-based food. No omnivore has ever turned down a slice of my pumpkin cheesecake!

Have a particular question? My “Holiday Hotline” is open Just leave your question at the end of this post, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

In the meantime, here are a few links to help you get through the holidays deliciously (and stress-free).

On Vegan.com, you can find my recipes for two complete Thanksgiving dinner menus:  Menu #1 and Menu #2 (each link goes to a different set of recipes.)

On VeganStreet.com,  some of my holiday tips (and a recipe) are featured in their All-Star Guide.

For more menu ideas, here are links to some of my favorite holiday recipes from my blog (some traditional and some not!):

Savory Pumpkin Bites with Green Chile Aioli

Moroccan Pumpkin Hummus

Mac and Cheddar Cauliflower

Roasted Shepherd’s Pie

Lime-Braised Cranberry Sauce

Penne and Butternut Squash with Kale Pesto

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Pumpkin Cheesecake

And finally, here’s the recipe for my new favorite holiday side dish, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts from my new book, Vegan Without Borders: Easy Everyday Meals from Around the World.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts

If you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts, it may be because you’ve never had them prepared this way. Roasting transforms these tiny orbs into delicious flavor bombs, seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper and a little olive oil and lemon juice. The walnuts add a delightful crunch.  This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Serves 4 |Gluten-free | Soy-Free

1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup walnut pieces
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside. If the Brussels sprouts are small, leave them whole. If they are on the large side, cut them in half lengthwise. Place the Brussels sprouts in a bowl. Add the oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, stir the sprouts so they brown evenly, then sprinkle the walnut pieces among the sprouts. Return the pan to the oven and continue to roast, until the sprouts are crisp and browned on the outside and tender
inside, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and serve hot sprinkled with a little lemon juice.

Variation: For a touch of sweetness, mix in  1/4 to 1/3 cup of  sweetened dried cranberries or chopped pitted dates just before serving.


…to best way to promote holiday harmony at the dinner table is to end your meal on a sweet note…..

Pumpkin Cheesecake w drizzle 1c


{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Linda @ Veganosity November 18, 2014, 7:28 pm

    Great advice Robin. I’m making a vegan walnut and almond loaf for the entree, with lots and lots of sides. I tried it out on my husband last week and he loved it! Hopefully, my in-laws will too.

    • Robin November 19, 2014, 9:09 am

      Thanks Linda. Your menu sounds great!

  • Susan November 18, 2014, 11:20 pm

    Thanksgiving is obviously not something that I have experienced being in Australia, but I always love seeing all the amazing menus people come up with.
    I have thought about having a Catsgiving one year, because I like cooking big menus and Catsgiving sounds really cute. I wonder if Gary would come? Does he like pumpkin?

    I have made your pumpkin cheesecake before and it is great.

    • Robin November 19, 2014, 9:19 am

      I know what you mean, Susan. Thanksgiving food can be uniquely fascinating!

  • Carmen November 25, 2014, 3:43 pm

    Hello! Thank you for the great post. I have a quick question. This is my first year of making a tofurky, and I have been looking at reviews and for interesting ways to make it more juicy and flavorful. Currently my plan is to brine/marinate it in a richly flavored mixture, and then wrap it in yuba before baking (an idea I had but saw come to life on one of your posts). Could you possibly tell me what steps you took to make the yuba crispy on the tofurky? Thank you so much/sorry for the short novel!

    • Robin December 3, 2014, 2:44 pm

      Hi Carmen, To make the yuba crispy, I first sauteed the yuba-wrapped roast in a little oil in a skillet, turning gently to be sure all the areas get nicely crisped without burning. Hope this helps!

  • Sara l November 28, 2014, 6:09 pm

    I wanted to let you know that we had our first vegan Thanksgiving this year based entirely on recipes from your book “1,000 Vegan Recipes”. We loved everything – the squash risotto, mashed potatoes, caramelized root vegetables, brownies, cranberry chocolate chip cookies and apple tart. THANK YOU for making not only our Thanksgiving a success but truly all of our vegan eating.

    • Robin December 3, 2014, 2:45 pm

      Thank you so much, Sara. I’m truly touched to know that you enjoyed my recipes for your first vegan Thanksgiving.

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