How To Have a Healthier Holiday in 12 Recipes

In lieu of Travel Tuesday today – I decided to do a mashup of some of my favorite vegan recipes for the upcoming holidays. (WHERE did this year go?!) I wanted to call this the “12 days of vegan Christmas” at the request of a friend of mine looking for some healthier recipes for the holidays. But then I realized there are less than 12 days until Christmas, so that didn’t really work. I could have also called this “what to feed your vegan friends for the holidays this year” but that was a little long. So instead, I just decided it would be easier to forget all of that and get to the point and just do a roundup of my favorites. Yes, the holidays are often full of gluttony but why not get started on your new years’ resolution to eat healthier early? This round-up of recipes I’ve put together not only taste great, they’ll also leave you guilt-free. And doesn’t that make your holidays happier already?

Party Time Cocktail Un-Meatballs

When I was growing up, every Christmas Eve we went over to my grandmother and grandfather’s for heavy apps, dinner and present opening. Funny how Santa always knew to come right after dinner… every year I tried to catch him in the act. Then, as I got older and my cousins still believed – I got to be the one to set up the presents at just the right time. But before all of that – we ate. And one of my favorite things on the menu were her meatballs. It was one of the few times the entire year I actually ate and enjoyed red meat. So I recreated her recipe without all that meat. A mixture of mushrooms, lentils and panko bread crumbs makes these un-meatballs delicious and oh so much healthier than greasy meat. Your heart will thank you.

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Curried Carrot & Zucchini Fritters

These fritters can be a great side dish, main, or appetizer – depending on your holiday event needs. They hold up well – and can even be finger foods and used to dip into the ginger coconut sauce. They could even be used as passed hors d’oeuvres if you’re real fancy. What I love about these fritters is how they’re packed full of veggies and tons of flavor. They’re not a traditional holiday go-to but I think that’s what I like so much about them. They’re definitely bound to surprise your guests both with their originality and they’ll win them over with their taste. Everyone will be talking about them.

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Zucchini Basil Spring Rolls 

Sticking with the surprising appetizer theme here, I offer you my zucchini basil spring rolls. Again, not traditional, but sure to be a big crowd pleaser, and since there’s no cooking involved consider these an easy way to lighten your cooking load. Just slice up some veggies and roll them on up. Toss on a plate and let everyone dip to their hearts desires. You’ll be amazed how quickly they’ll disappear.

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Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Rounding out the app suggestions is this big hit from last year’s holiday celebrations. What I love about this dip is that it has all the flavor and creaminess of a traditional spinach artichoke dip but without all the added fat from tons of cheese. A mixture of white beans gives it creaminess while nutritional yeast and Daiya vegan cheese give it more of a traditional cheese taste. I took these to our big family Christmas gathering and there were no leftovers. I rest my case.

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Greek Style Phyllo Mushrooms

For a hearty main course option, I love these Greek-style phyllo mushrooms. They’re hearty, creamy, and add a bit of spice. The caramelized onions add a slightly sweet depth to the mushrooms. Paired with the flaky phyllo dough, you’ve got a dish that’s sure to wow your guests. Have someone who’s gluten-free? The mushrooms are delicious over rice as well. I’ve tested them on friends and family and I can assure, while it takes a bit of time to caramelize the onions and reduce the wine, they’re worth the effort.

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The Ultimate Vegan Lasagna

Can you really make a giant pan of lasagna and call it a day? Yes, yes you can. And I think you should. I made this Italian feast for my family over the holidays a couple years ago and everyone raved about it. From my cheese-loving cheese-state living family to my celiac Dad, it was a huge huge hit. I mean, what’s not to love? Flavorful basil perks up the tofu ricotta – which surprisingly fools everyone into thinking it’s actually cheese. Who knew processed tofu had the same consistency as ricotta? Well, now you do. Go spread the word.

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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad 

Think Greek might be a stretch for the holidays? Mediterranean not your jam? Well, it should be. The slightly salty dressing combined with the tofu that makes it feel/taste like feta mixed with kalamata olives in this salad is just amazing. Seriously. It’s veg and celiac friendly and chock full of veggies. Add in the fact that with the quinoa and chickpeas you’ve got a ton of protein – this salad goes from salad to side to main. Whatever your little heart desires. Or your tummy.

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Mexican Goddess Kale Salad

And what dinner with guests and family isn’t complete without a salad? But does the salad always get looked over at your gatherings? People pick at a couple iceberg lettuce leaves and some dry shredded carrots and go immediately for the ham? Well, this one, people will actually want to eat. Veggie or not, this salad is actually remembered and requested by a lot of my friends and family. It’s modeled after one of my favorite salad chains, Chop’t. And the dressing is insane. You’re welcome.

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Very Berry Raw Pie

This is one of my favorite favorite pies ever.It mixes berries (you could use frozen if they’re not available in the store now) and nuts into a sweet and decadent guilt-free dessert that you won’t want to put down.I wish I could take credit for the recipe but it’s all Sophia over at Love and Lentils’ baby. How could you not fall for it? Everyone will. And since it’s raw it’s literally not cooking at all. Toss that into the “easy” column and go have yourself another hot toddy by the fire.

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Easy Peasy Guilt-Free Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Speaking of super duper simple recipes, it doesn’t get much easier than these 5 ingredient cookies. And 2 of those ingredients? Vanilla and cinnamon. Basically, spices. So they don’t even count. Let’s say 3 ingredient cookies. Got a couple old bananas lying around? They’re perfect for this. Toss them in with some oats and bam. You’ve got cookies. Add in some chocolate chips if you’re real wild and need a little more naughty than nice.

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Mom’s Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

We can’t be good alllll the time, right? Christmas wouldn’t be the same without at least one cookie. Or 10. These are my mom’s gooey chewy chocolate chunk cookies. Veganized. I can’t help but drool even thinking of them. I can’t claim they’re totally healthy. But everything in moderation, right? Even moderation? Pass them around to all your friends and family and they’ll be gone in no time so you won’t even have to worry about your lack of self-control. And Santa will leave you extra presents for leaving him such a delicious plate of goodies. And who doesn’t like more presents?

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I’ve got one more holiday recipe coming up before I take off until the new year…because even bloggers need to take some time off and enjoy the festivities. But stay tuned for a brand new recipe Saturday. I promise you’re in for a treat, literally!

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