Posts Tagged ‘Raw Vegan Holidays’

Vegan and Vegetarian Holiday Options

Over the years, I’ve posted lots of photos, recipes and tips for preparing vegan, raw vegan, and/or vegetarian holiday food. You can click through to read about a Raw Vegan Easter Feast, a Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Feast, a Raw Vegan Indian Food Feast, a Raw Vegan Pizza and Italian Feast, Raw Vegan Thai, Tiramisu and Key Lime Pie, two Raw Vegan Christmas Feasts, Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry, the five flavors principle, vegan alfredo sauce and links to various other recipes. We also have some sort of vegan feast every six weeks for our Wheel of the Year Celebrations, although I usually keep the details of those gatherings private. It’s some good vegan eating, though!

Today, I wanted to share what we did this year for Thanksgiving, Yule and Christmas. Hopefully, the vast variety of foods shared in the above links and below will inspire some people to think of new possibilities when sharing holidays with non-vegans or non-vegetarians.

Please note: I’m not fully vegan anymore. For tooth and bone strength, I drink organic, raw goat milk, which we pick up directly from local farmers. I loved being 100% vegan and often 100% raw in California and Arizona, but once I got back to the cold Midwest, after 8.5 years of a strict vegan lifestyle, my body started demanding very specific types of dairy and occasional organic, free range eggs.

It was an extremely difficult decision to move from vegan to vegetarian, but the improvements in my health really speak for themselves. In photos I often miss my former waif self, not always recognizing my stronger, curvier self these days; however, I cannot argue with improved cognitive function, no more tooth pain, and greatly increased overall strength. It was the right decision for me, for now. I’ve never judged anyone for his or her dietary choices, as I know injuries, relocations, illnesses, stress, vibrational management, and other factors make “ideal” diets much more complicated than a simple dogma sometimes addresses.

I share the information here, not to judge, but to inspire. I prefer as cruelty free as possible for the holidays. It’s nice not to look at a carcass, to bypass the food coma, to celebrate life, and sometimes even to feed relatives the only veggies they’d willingly eat! All while having them ask for seconds. Or thirds. Anyway, without further ado … our menus this fall holiday season:

The night before Thanksgiving, David and I met his daughter and her boyfriend at a new microbrewery in South Bend called The Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House. This place has a dedicated vegan menu that directly corresponds to the regular menu. We thought it would be fun to take the young ones to a new spot where all of us could eat and enjoy an edgier atmosphere than Northern Indiana usually offers.

Oftentimes vegan versions of traditional menu items involve a lot of fake meat made from wheat gluten or soy, but we were blown away by the creativity and freshness of their entrees. It was too dark for photos, so we don’t have any; however, the dishes were so authentic tasting we actually asked our server if he had remembered to give us the vegan versions. Instead of gluten and soy, our “wings” were made from tender, perfectly seasons artichokes! Our Thai inspired dish used cauliflower instead of beef. We seriously could not believe how good our meals were! I will write a long overdue vegan Michiana post at some point. For now, just know that if you’re vegan or have a vegan in your crew, Crooked Ewe would be a special treat.

Just prior to meeting our young dinner guests, we stopped at the Mishawaka Whole Foods (which David helped open in 2013), and treated ourselves to one of their vegetarian holiday boxes. We don’t usually buy a prepared box of holiday foods, but with everything we had going on Thanksgiving weekend, we thought we’d treat ourselves. It was entirely vegetarian, some of it vegan, and some of it gluten-free. It did feature a seitan based loaf, which I could not stomach even beyond one bite, but David enjoyed that loaf a lot. The surprising thing coming from “Whole Paycheck” was just how much food we got for $29.95! We seriously had about 5 meals from this box. You can see some of the spread below:

Vegetarian Thanksgiving from Whole Foods


If you’re hosting a holiday for “regular eaters” and don’t know what to do with some oddball vegetarian guests, then the Whole Foods Holiday Box for vegetarians might be a great way to go. Vegans or gluten-free peeps would need more a la carte ordering, which removes some of the price advantage of the box, but if you’re out of your league cooking for vegans or vegetarians, Whole Foods offers an easy, tasty, considerate option.

I’m much more of a Yule gal than a Christmas celebrant, so when we went to David’s daughter’s graduation last weekend in Madison, I prepared a Yule Feast for the friends who hosted us. These are the same friends who joined us for most of the raw vegan feasts linked above, although this time, I offered a mix of cooked and raw, always gluten-free vegan dishes: homegrown cushaw squash soup, chickpea “meat”loaf, homegrown massaged kale and tomato salad, almond flour rolls, and a gluten-free vegan yule log. Those yule logs are labor intensive, but for once a year festivities, I do love them! So did our friends, who jumped with glee when I gifted them all the leftovers.

chickpea roast and kale salad

You can find the Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf recipe here. I made this twice — once for Yule and then again for Christmas because David requested it. I texted Tania Marie about our Christmas Eve Feast, and her Dave requested it, too! I found that the recipe needed between 1/8 to 1/4 cup of ground chia seeds added in. I used less the second time I made it, and although it tasted good, the texture never firmed up. David’s completely meat eating, non “weird diet” brother-in-law requested firsts, seconds and thirds of even the mushier version on Christmas, though, which tells you how yummy this recipe is.

The kale salad above is just kale, dehydrated tomatoes (soaked), chopped olives, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt, massaged together.

Below, you can see this year’s gluten-free, almost sugar-free, vegan yule log. I loosely followed this recipe, substituting gluten-free flour and a combo of coconut sugar and birch sweetener for the refined sugar. The non-edible holly garnish came from bushes I relocated to the blue house front yard:

vegan yule log

Whenever I make a yule log, I always have some kind of major kitchen whoops! In this case, I did not have enough gluten-free flour, and had subbed in some fava bean/chickpea flour without the other ingredients to make it “all purpose.” Oops, no arrowroot in the house, so I added chia seeds. This was the year of chia. The cake was fine as a cake, but in order to make a yule log, you need to fill it with creme or jam and roll it up. I used a low-sugar, local strawberry jam, but once I started rolling, this baby cracked all over the place!

I had not planned to make a glaze, but I needed a coconut based one to hold it together. I heated up coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla stevia and chocolate on a low burner, but quickly realized that would just dribble down the cake, not hold it together. It needed a little chilling; however, our fridge was full. Outside it went into 29 degree weather for enough time to turn firm enough to mold, but not so firm I couldn’t use if for yule log intervention. The final product turned out just right. You’d never know this one created almost as much mess as the one gluten-free-sugar-free-dairy-free yule log I made in 2013.

When we returned from our whirlwind trip to Madison, I thought I was mostly done cooking for the holidays, but David liked the chickpea loaf so much that he wanted one for Christmas. His daughter loves the traditional green bean casserole, and David had seen a reasonably clean gluten-free version of the crispy onion topping at ALDI’s of all places. I ended up planning another homemade feast. This one included gluten-free vegan versions of all the traditional green bean casserole ingredients:

green bean casserole

I threw all that together on Christmas Eve, along with the loaf, and prepared a favorite sweet potato dish with coconut milk and lots of sauteed, home grown garlic. I added some sauteed mushrooms and onion to the traditional directions for the green bean casserole, but it was pretty plug ‘n’ play. The green beans were a hit with everyone, and the sweet potatoes surprised David’s brother-in-law into requesting both firsts and seconds. Even the non-veggie eating nephew liked one serving of sweet potatoes:

sweet potato mash and green bean casserole

I appear to have redeemed myself from the “swamp pie” I made David and me for Christmas 2012. We loved the deep green spirulina raw vegan pie topped with goji berries, but we’ll never forget the reaction of the bro-in-law and nephew when they learned that spirulina’s algae! Stuck out green tongues and no end of remarks like, “As long as you don’t try to serve us pond scum …” .

All of which is to say, you can find no end to creative vegan and vegetarian meal options for the holiday, but if you’d like to share your feast with others, take it easy on the algae. 😉

Bon Appétit!

Raw Food Holiday Fun

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday time as much as I did. Yes, I know it’s not over yet! We’ve all still got a New Year to ring in, and in January I have one grandmother turning 100 and the other celebrating 90 years around the Sun. My holiday season began on Thanksgiving and continues through the third week of January. So many people ask me what I eat during the holidays that I thought I’d post another round of raw vegan holiday photos. Here’s what I had on Thanksgiving, and below you’ll find two feasts’ worth of food: one from a Christmas Eve dinner with local raw food friends and the second with my boyfriend’s non-raw, non-vegan family when we could be together two days after Christmas.

As I mentioned in my Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Post, I am no longer 100% raw or 100% vegan. I did spend about 8 1/2 years as a strict vegan, and I still find the bulk of my diet consists of raw vegan foods like green smoothies, salads, seed pâté’s, blended soups and occasional raw desserts. Given the cold winters of Madison, Wisconsin (as opposed to my warmer sojourns in Sonoma County and Sedona), I sometimes add lightly steamed veggies, kombu soaked beans, and grains like brown rice. In February 2011, I also added some organic, grass-fed, free range, raw cultured dairy to keep my teeth mineralized, as they remained a major weak link, regardless of vegan supplements and any version of a totally vegan diet. I may write on my tooth protocol another time, but today’s post is meant to celebrate the vast array of raw vegan dishes that even “regular” folks enjoy. Especially on holidays, I love to feature the gorgeous, delicious and joyful bounty of Mother Earth.

I’ve got lots of photos, so I will mostly let them speak for themselves:

Raw Vegan Christmas Eve Feast

This one came from my local raw vegan Christmas Eve Feast. It features clockwise from left: zucchini pasta with marinara sauce, Eden Organic Brown Mustard (made with raw apple cider vinegar), Fennel Seed Sausage (from Raw Fusion Recipes), Buckwheat Crusted “Fried” Onion Rings, Celery Wakame Soup, Simple Caesar Salad (also from Raw Fusion) and napa cabbage leaves as a substrate for the sausage and mustard.

More Raw Vegan Feasting

At the same gathering, we also had a cashew based hummus, chopped veggies, extra garlicy marinara sauce and nori sheets for building some seriously flavorful wraps. For dessert, we had a vegan nut-nog, which I made by blending almond butter, water, lucuma powder, vanilla stevia, 1 soaked date (and soak water), 1 banana, nutmeg, and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. My boyfriend makes his nut-nog with more dates and no lucuma, but I knew that Christmas Eve’s crowd would appreciate low glycemic. 🙂

Once that feast ended, I spent much of Christmas day prepping food for our post-Christmas road trip to Goshen, Indiana, where David’s parents live. For some reason, I have been seriously craving sourdough rye bread, and my local friend turned me onto this amazing grain-free, raw Rye Flatbread recipe from Ani’s Raw Food Essentials. (Ani Phyo, that is.) OMG! This totally hit the spot. It uses celery, caraway seeds, cacao, and ground flax to make a convincing texture and taste. When we arrived to a homemade (cooked) vegan soup, this Rye Flatbread allowed us to have soup and bread like the rest of the family. David’s mom tried the bread and couldn’t believe a) I made it, b) it had no grains, and c) how flavorful it was.

Rye Flatbread

Truth be told, I was quite the kitchen witch, preparing foods that David and I would love, which we also thought the rest of the family might like, too. The bottom shelf of our fridge could barely hold all the travel food, including some green smoothies for breakfast:

Stocked Travel Fridge

(By the way, those Hail Merry macaroons are incredible! They do have maple syrup in them, but wow! Totally tasty.)

In the fridge you can see our smoothies; an Asian cabbage slaw made from the rest of the Christmas Eve napa cabbage; marinating Italian mushrooms that included my own homegrown basil; a lemon stevia and mustard dressing to be added to a pound of spinach with pinenuts before serving (this was a non-gycemic version of Cherie Soria‘s “Braised Spinach” from her book, The Raw Revolution Diet); sweet potato soup with shallots, pumpkin seed oil, and homegrown rosemary; and some root veggies for our (cooked) roasted root veggie dish (parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets, yellow carrots, turnips, shallots, olive oil, wheat free tamari and balsamic vinegar), which we prepared on site and shared with everyone. I made extra Fennel Seed Sausage for the Christmas Eve feast, and this became David’s and my roast beef counterpart on our plates:

Christmas Plate

As you can see, we feasted well! Clockwise from upper left: ACV-marinated cucumbers with shallots, “Braised Spinach,” Italian Marinated Mushrooms (with basil, garlic, sun dried tomato and a hint of wheat free tamari), roasted root veggies, and the Fennel Seed Sausage from Raw Fusion. Again, David’s mom gave a surprised thumbs up to the Fennel Seed Sausage. Everyone loved the mushrooms, cukes, and roasted root veggies, and the spinach got rave reviews from those who eat spinach. We had so much food that David and I saved the cabbage salad for another meal, which I enjoyed with the soup and more of that amazing bread.

The only non-universal winner was the lowly swamp water pie. LOL! David and I love Spirulina Pie with goji berries as a special Christmas festivity. After sampling twelve baked pies, my non-vegan friend Matthew voted it his all time favorite pie last holiday season. Alas, the concept of algae and green in a pie is just too much for some people. I promised to bring Violet’s Violent End next holiday season. That’s a blueberry chocolate pie from Shazzie and David Wolfe’s book, Naked Chocolate. Always a consistent winner, but it’s purple. Who wants a purple pie for Christmas when you can have a green one?! We will all have some giggles for years to come, though, so it was worth making the pie. David’s sister’s family all wanted to try it, despite warnings that it might not be to their usual liking. Seeing all those green tongues stick out in disgust actually made our first night there hilarious — and David and I got to eat everyone else’s pie. We wisely offered it the night before the feast, so as not to interfere with what we knew would be a lovely gathering. 🙂

For raw foodies or anyone who’s developed a taste for spirulina, this variation of Matt Amsden’s Spirulina Pie, is really quite a treat. I find Matt’s too sweet, so I usually skip the crust and back down the agave, but the carob, spirulina, coconut and cashews are the same. Then I top it with goji berries to up the festivity factor. Here it is in all its spiral swamp water glory:

Spirulina Pie with Goji Berries

We ate well, and all our dishes blended with the more traditional mashed potatoes, roast beef and corn. It was one of the best Christmas celebrations I remember having. Ever. Lots of fun, and no one felt out of place or went hungry. In fact, we had enough leftovers to feast at a rest stop on the way back to Madison, even after over two days of eating well.

Wishing you all good health in the New Year! If you’re looking to up your raw food goodies, I highly recommend Raw Fusion, as well as my own ebook, The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide. Both offer laid back approaches to tasty eating and high vibe foods.

Raw Fusion: Better Living Through Living Foods — Book Review

Book Review for Raw Fusion by LindaJoy Rose, PhD

In Raw Fusion — a companion duo of high raw food lifestyle tips and recipes — Dr. LindaJoy Rose offers strategies and recipes for increasing raw and living foods in the entire household while maintaining peace and what I call the “yumminess factor.” LindaJoy expands upon some of the integrative and non-judging ideas of my own ebook, The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide, but instead of a few chapters on these important topics, LindaJoy offers two books’ worth of living foods support, differing lifestyle coexistence, and a “fusion” of deliciously prepared raw foods and healthier mainstream meals. Indeed, Raw Fusion is one of the most family-friendly and practical tools I’ve ever encountered for high raw food living.

I’ll let LindaJoy explain her powerful premise:

“I have maintained a high raw diet (70-80% daily, sometimes 50% when I travel) for over three years now. During the first year … I didn’t know many people who were raw and had to figure a lot of things out on my own. I would have loved to interview other raw foodists about what they ate; I was particularly curious about what they were eating that was not raw. When I decided to write my own book on raw foods, [my friend] Jeff encouraged me to create a book directed to mainstream types like himself, who are open to making positive changes in their diets, but might find the concept of high or full raw intimidating and too far on the fringe. …My goal in this book is to help inform you about this exceptional lifestyle. I want to streamline and share all of the information that I gathered from my
research, both practical and educational … .”

This mainstream approach to a fringe lifestyle bridges gaps that can cause resistance, arguments, and division among otherwise loving and supportive family members and friends.

Victoria Boutenko, inspiring, author, speaker and one of the original mama bears of the growing raw food movement, provides the Foreward to Raw Fusion. Victoria describes her international travels and notes commonalities in eating styles of countries with very low obesity rates. In her Foreward, Victoria heralds a homemade, high raw and lightly steamed diet as the most obvious connection among places like Japan, France and Austria — places with far superior weight management compared to the U.S. This is exactly the kind of eating presented in Raw Fusion!

Although Victoria spent much of her early career advocating for a 100% raw food diet, her book Green for Life was the one that got green smoothies to go mainstream(ish!). Prior to Green for Life, I was the only person I knew who blended kale, raspberries and water together and called it a meal. Six years later, most raw foodies drink some kind of green smoothie every single day. LindaJoy includes a variety of unusual smoothies in Raw Fusion, and shares just how popular and revolutionary green smoothies have been for her loved ones. She even includes a “Formula for the Perfect Green Smoothie” and entire section devoted to “Getting More Greens.” In many ways, Raw Fusion enables ordinary people to “go green” with minimal fuss or weirdness.

Raw Fusion: Better Living Through Living Foods offers an extensive and informative pantry chapter, to help you prepare your shopping list. The companion book provides replacement recipes for SAD condiments like sour cream, mustard, mayo, and salsa. High on my list is the Kale Chips Series, including a nut-free version for people who prefer something lighter than the usual cashew sauce. Salty and sweet cravings will find relief in their own crave-buster sections: fast and easy antidotes to munchies and emotional eating.

Like The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide, Raw Fusion pools resources, featuring raw food chefs and educators like Angela Elliott, Tera Warner and many others, who provide question and answer style wisdom and recipes. Yours truly contributed an article on “Macrobiotics and the Raw Food Diet,” as well as my recipes for “Multi-tasking Crackers,” which use ground flax seeds and leftover veggie or nut pulp to make tasty snacks. My “Anything Goes Butternut Soup Base” and tips for tastily combining raw cacao and greens also make an appearance.

Dr. LindaJoy Rose (affectionately known to fans as “LJ”) holds advanced degrees in the fields of psychology, hypnotherapy, and the mysteries of the subconscious mind. In a world that contains so much negative programming around food, body image and health, I love LindaJoy's ability to offer not only tasty, nourishing food options, but also helpful self-programming tools for success in the raw food lifestyle. Clients and regular readers of my blog know that I’m a huge fan of symbols, Runes, mythology, past lives, decoding the body’s “language,” and Archetypes — all of which function as keys to understanding and thereby reclaiming our subconscious minds. In Raw Fusion, LJ offers decades of experience as a hypnotherapist, sharing tricks of the trade with readers to help them manage weight and increase vibrancy. For people looking to take the next step in weight loss, she’s also got an entire hypnotherapy program. (Click here for more details on Hypnovation for Health.)

You can also find LJ’s blog, sample recipes, videos and event information here.

With the approaching holidays and New Year’s Resolutions, or anytime you want to upgrade health and harmony, I highly recommend the Raw Fusion duo. These beautiful books will round out any raw, vegan, or healthy living collection, as they help you find more energy, greater health and higher awareness.

Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Feast!

I hope everyone enjoyed their day yesterday and took some time to feel gratitude for all we are and have in this life. No matter what happens to or around us, we can always search for the blessings. This attitude got me through my 1998 brain injury and oh so many other life lessons that made me who I am today.

The holidays are one of those times that vegans and vegetarians can feel left out or pressured to compromise their health and values. If, like me, you think Tofurkey and Seitan Rolls are gross (not to mention hard on the tummy!), then you might feel discouraged. Not me, though! Yesterday I realized that I have enjoyed a sumptuous 100% raw, or at least 100% vegan Thanksgiving feast every year since 2004. That’s a nice run!

In the past, I’ve hosted my own meals for people going through divorces or otherwise unable to attend family functions. When I lived in Sedona, I ordered from Cafe Raw Bliss (now the ChoclaTree), and in Northern California, I spent two decadent Thanksgivings in a row at Cafe Gratitude with my best friend and raw foodie, Tania Marie. Last year, a friend and I enjoyed the raw food feast from RAW in Chicago. We had so much extra food that we invited two other friends to help us finish it the following day. I don’t currently eat 100% raw vegan, but it still forms a huge portion of my diet. On a day devoted to gratitude, I love to feel vibrantly alive, instead of sleepy. I love to connect with nature through fresh, living plant foods shared with others who appreciate such things.

This year, my boyfriend had a layover in London, so I hosted some local friends and their two children at our house. It was lots and lots of fun, and delicious, too. I decided to share some photos to let you experience it vicariously. I apologize for the photo quality in that I’m still getting used to my new iPhone 4S, but I think you’ll get the idea.

(Curried Sweet Potato soup is just sweet potato or yams, blended in a Vitamix with water, Whole Foods Curry Powder, a bit of ginger and then a tiny bit of sweetener of your choice –dates, xylitol, agave, maple syrup. I often make this with hot, not boiling water or warm it gently on the stove to let the flavors meld. Since my guests are 100% raw, I warmed the soup for a few hours in the dehydrator.)

(This was my other contribution, named Scarborough Fair Waldorf Salad due to the fresh, homegrown herbs I used to make the dressing. I don’t measure things, but the ingredients were:

grated or spiralized celery root, also called celeriac
finely chopped celery
soaked walnuts
golden sultana raisins

The dressing was a blend of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, olive oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. I left the dressing quite tart to complement the sweet earthiness of the salad.)

Thanksgiving Feast 2011

This was our spread, minus the amazing chocolate goji berry fudge that was hiding out in the freezer! My guests brought cauliflower mashed “potatoes,” real cranberry orange sauce, and some cashew based raw “ricotta” as well as raviolis. All the greens came from their garden less than 5 minutes before their arrival here, and we each contributed some chopped veggies for dipping. Because the meal did not center as heavily around nuts as most gourmet raw meals tend to, we actually felt light enough to enjoy the exquisite fudge! (Sorry, the photo of that didn’t come out so well.) I love the 4:44 on the clock, a little wink from the angels, sending us their love. 😉

Lest you feel too sorry for my boyfriend, missing out on all the festivities, here were the photos he emailed me from SAF in London, where he spent his holiday feasting on gorgeously yummy raw, vegan food:

Raw Vegan Pad Thai at SAF in London

And for desert, a raw tiramisu:

Raw Tiramisu at SAF in London

As you can see, my guy is much more savvy with the iPhone camera than I am! It was fun to join him “virtually” for the meal, since the 4S allows you to surf off any wireless network anywhere, even if you don’t have cell coverage there. Yay, technology! Wishing you and yours much love, inspiration and thriving …