Cooking up a Thanksgiving feastBy Autumn Ladouceur – Past TVA Communications Intern

No matter what walk of life you’re in, Thanksgiving can be a difficult holiday for the vegetarians out there. When we think of Thanksgiving the first thing most people picture is a turkey, so our challenge as vegetarians is to try to make a satisfying Thanksgiving feast that we and our omnivorous friends and family will enjoy and maybe even love. These tips, hints and recipes should make this Thanksgiving a little easier for all the herbivores out there.

Here is a list of alternatives that you will need for your veganized Thanksgiving feast. Not only can you use this advice in your own kitchen, but you can share it with mom and dad so that they can modify their Thanksgiving feast to meet your needs as well.

Milk – Soy, coconut, almond or rice

There is a peanut allergy in my family so we steer clear of almond milk during the big holidays, but all of these alternatives will substitute cow’s milk effectively. For instance, my dad always puts milk in the mashed potatoes, but since I went vegan he has been substituting it for soymilk. Not even my most skeptical relatives notice the difference. You can find at least one of these alternative milks at any grocery store.

My mother-in-law, Kandace Perkins found an incredible recipe for whipped cream made out of coconut milk for our upcoming Thanksgiving meal.

Coconut Whip Cream

  • 15 oz can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1 TBSP sugar (optional)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla (optional)

Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.  When you open the can there will be a firm, waxy layer on top.  Scoop out this layer that has solidified.  Stop as soon as you reach the water, don’t include anything but the solid cream

(you can use the water to drink or for smoothies).  Place the cream in a large bowl.  Turn the mixer to high and whip for 3 – 5 minutes.  Whip until it becomes fluffy and light with soft peaks.  Mix in sugar and vanilla if using.

Note: this stores well in the refrigerator for several days.

Butter – Vegan margarine or olive oil

Both of these alternatives are just as tasty as butter, and both are good on all your festive Thanksgiving vegetables. My personal favourite vegan margarine is Becel Vegan. It can also be found at any grocery store. Two other popular vegan margarines are Earth Balance and certain varieties of Fleischmann’s (check the label).

My mom’s olive oil, rosemary and lime butternut and pepper squash can’t be beat. Using two types of squash gives it a lovely festive, orange and yellow colour.

Rosemary and Lime SquashRosemary and Lime Squash

  • 1 butternut squash cubed
  • 1 pepper squash cubed
  • 1 lime
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Cube 1 butternut squash and 1 pepper squash. Squeeze in the juice from 1 lime. Add the leaves of 2 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over top, and sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Bake for a ½ hour.

My mom’s beloved vegetarian stuffing is made with vegan margarine.

Vegetarian Stuffing:

Half a loaf of French bread

  • Half a loaf of whole wheat bread
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp sage
  • 2 tbsp savory
  • ½ cup vegetable stock,
  • 3 tsp vegan margarine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Rip French bread and whole wheat bread into small pieces. Chop 3 stalks of celery and 1 large onion into small pieces. Add 2 teaspoons each of sage and savory, ½ cup of vegetable stock, 3 teaspoons of vegan margarine and salt and pepper and wrap the mixture in tinfoil. Bake for a ½ hour.

Eggs – Egg replacer, applesauce, banana

You may need an egg substitute for your Thanksgiving desserts. Pumpkin pie is the way to go on Thanksgiving and Kandace is a pie master.

Pumpkin PiePumpkin Pie

Recipe makes 1 pie

  • egg replacer for 2 eggs
  • 398 ml (1/2 can of 796 ml) pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup almond, soy or coconut milk
  • 1 unbaked pie shell (recipe to follow)

Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices and egg replacer.  Stir until well combined. Stir in milk.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 425 F for 15 min.  Reduce heat to 350 F and continue baking for 30 – 35 more.  Cool.

Pie Shell

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 – 6 TBSP ice water

Blend flour and salt in a bowl.  Cut in shortening using pastry blender or 2 knives.  Sprinkle 3 TBSP ice water over flour.

Mix thoroughly, drawing flour from bottom to top, distributing moisture evenly into flour.  Add more water by the tablespoon until dough is moist enough to hold together.  Roll out dough to fit 9″ pie plate leaving 3/4″ overlap.

Turn edge under and flute as desired.

My mother-in-law, Kandace loves baking vegan:

“I find that when I’m making anything vegan that it is really no different than regular cooking or baking.  Sometimes slight variations or substitutions have to be made. 

 I always enjoy cooking vegan recipes for those I love.  I have learned a lot about making healthier choices and enjoying a variety of different items.”

Turkey – Soy-based meat substitute

My personal favourite alternative to turkey on Thanksgiving is Tofurkey, but there are many other soy-based meat alternatives to choose from at your local grocery store and you can even try making a Tofurkey from scratch. See how here:  http://vegetarian.about.com/od/maindishentreerecipes/r/vegturkey.htm

Preparing a Thanksgiving feastThis year I bought a Tofurkey at Metro for $14.99. A little pricey, I know, but once a year it’s worth it. I have perfected my own Tofurkey cooking recipe that makes for a moist and delicious roast.

Autumn’s Tofurkey Method

  • 1 Tofurkey roast
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sage
  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop carrots in half twice, cube potatoes and cut and quarter onions. Put vegetables in a crockpot and add vegetable stock, soy sauce, sage and salt and pepper to taste. Cook thawed Tofurkey roast on high for 2 hours.

I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from my mom, Sheilagh Ladouceur to take with you on your vegan Thanksgiving journey:

It’s so easy doing a vegan Thanksgiving with pickled beets, cranberries, applesauce from the trees in the backyard, local squash, turnip, green beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots and potatoes. The Tofurkey done in the crockpot with the vegetable stock, onion and sage makes a great gravy. 

There’s a certain freshness or lightness that comes from the vegan alternative. Vegan pumpkin pie, apple pie and apple crisp are all delicious and the coconut whipped cream to top it off?  Great!”