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A Vegan Thanksgiving Menu Even the Kids Will Love!

Kid-friendly candied sweet potatoes with vegan marshmallows.

When I was a kid, I remember Thanksgiving was just a boring holiday that needed to hurry up and pass by so we could move on to Christmas.  Bland, brown-toned Thanksgiving food + football being the only thing on tv all day + too cold to play outside = complete boredom for a child.  Now that I’m more mature grown up I love Thanksgiving time and look forward to the delicious foods, the gorging yourself until you can’t move and laying around on the couch all day inside where it’s nice and warm.  But my kids aren’t buying into it.  And being vegan adds another twist to it.

So the my challenge this year is how do I make a Thanksgiving meal that will satisfy the entire family?  (Including my not-quite-vegetarian, sort of vegan sometimes when he wants to be husband.)

Well I’m up for the challenge.  Plus, it’s never too late to start a new tradition!
Here’s what I came up with for the Vegan Thanksgiving Menu Even The Kids Will Love this year!  The trick is to keep everything “separate” since most kids don’t like their food to touch other foods.  Plus, the little individual mini servings are way more fun to eat!
If that’s too much trouble, make the recipe the regular way, then set aside a serving or two for the kids in a separate fancy bowl, cup or whatever special item you have to put it in.
You can find most of the recipes at the end of this post.
Set the appetizers out early while you’re busy cooking.  This is a great way to get the kids (& your guests) to eat some healthy items before the feasting begins! The more colorful, the better!
-whole grain crackers with sunflower seed cheese spread, zucchini & carrots
(other options: you could make Raw Cashew “Cheese” or use hummus)
-veggie sticks with creamy vegan artichoke dip
-candied mixed nuts
-classic vegan mac ‘n “cheese”
-pomegranate cornbread muffins
-kid-friendly candied sweet potatoes
-mandarin orange salad
-stuffing (I wouldn’t call this one kid-friendly, but I’m making a traditional cornbread stuffing using vegetable broth, celery, breadcrumbs, onions, etc.)
-greens (gotta get those greens in!!!  I’m making a southern-style vegan greens recipe similar to this one)
-potato salad (recipe here)


(I may be forced to make Chickenless Nuggets for my kids, or you could bake a lentil loaf)
-mushroom gravy (this one maybe?)
-mini pumpkin pies (recipe here)
-vegan cheesecake (either from here or here)
-sparkling cider for the kids
-champagne for the adults
simple as that!
Besides the Tofurky above, has a great list of Vegetarian Turkey Substitutes including:
-Gardein Stuffed Turk’y. I love all of Gardein’s products so I bet this one is great too!
-Quorn Turk’y Roast (it’s soy-free)
-Stuffed Hazelnut & Cranberry Roast
-“Vegetarian Plus” Whole Turkey-this one is actually shaped like a turkey!
…and more…

                                     Here’s a statistic for you before you go.  
It’s not to make anyone feel bad, just food for thought.  If you can’t handle going without a traditional Thanksgiving turkey this Thursday, you can spend the entire next year considering it.

It’s been said that 45 million….yes, million…turkeys are raised each year on factory farms for Thanksgiving ALONE!  They live a horrible life just so they can end up our plates for a “thankful” meal.  Real change starts with one person.

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Sunflower Seed “Cheese” Spread/Dip (Raw Vegan): 
makes 1 1/4 Cups
1 C. soaked, rinsed, drained raw sunflower seeds
1/4 C. water
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove
1/2-1 tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt (or sea salt)
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
To soak sunflower seeds, simply place them in a bowl of water for at least 1 hour.  Then drain.
Add all ingredients to food processor or high-powered blender and process until completely smooth.  Be sure to scrape down the sides as you go.
Creamy White Bean & Artichoke Dip:
makes 2 Cups
recipe from “The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook” by Dr. Neal Barnard, MD
(I highly recommend this book!!)
1 small white onion, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained
1-2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained & rinsed
1 Tb. lemon juice
1 Tb. finely chopped scallions
1 tsp. fresh oregano
1 Tb. chopped fresh basil
pinch of cayenne pepper
sea salt & black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425F.
Wrap onion in foil & bake for 20 minutes
Squeeze each of the artichoke hearts or press them against the bottom of a fine mesh colander with spoon to remove moisture.
Add onions, artichokes hearts & all remaining ingredients to blender or food processor & puree until smooth, but still chunky.
Serve with veggie sticks, crackers, pita triangles or bread.
Candied Mixed Nuts:
makes 8 servings
this would be a great dessert item too!
2 3/4 C. pecans, walnuts, cashews (whatever nuts you like) lightly chopped
(you want chunks but not whole pieces)
1 1/2 Tb. non-dairy butter (Earth Balance)
1 C. sugar (I use coconut palm sugar, use turbinado, date sugar..whatever you have on hand)
1/2 C. water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 275F.
Place all nuts onto baking sheet with edges (so they don’t slide off).  Bake 10 minutes.
In medium sauce pan, add butter, sugar, water, salt & cinnamon.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture is just boiling.  Boil for no more than 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Stir in the warm nuts being sure to coat them all evenly.
Spray that same baking sheet with non-stick spray or use parchment paper.
Spread coated nut mixture onto baking sheet evenly.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, being sure to stir half-way through.
Allow to cool before serving.
Classic Vegan Mac ‘N “Cheese”:
makes 4 individual servings or just bake one big batch!
8 oz. sea shell pasta or about 1 1/2 C. uncooked pasta (use what shape you like here)
3 Tb. flour (I recommend all-purpose for this one)
1/2 C. non-dairy butter (Earth Balance)
1 C. non-dairy milk, I used almond (you may need a bit more for a creamier sauce)
1/2 C. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. tumeric (for color & added health benefits)
1/2 C. Daiya cheddar style shreds
2 slices rice cheese slices (found here, I bought mine at Whole Foods)-optional
1 tsp. sea salt
ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375F.
Boil pasta according to package directions.  Drain & put back in pan.
In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour, stirring constantly as it thickens.  Gradually add milk while continuing to stir.  Cook for 2 minutes as it thickens, then reduce heat to low.
Stir in butter, nutritional yeast, Daiya cheese, salt & pepper.  Add more milk as necessary for a creamier sauce.
Pour over cooked pasta.
Add the rice cheese slices by breaking them into bite-sized pieces and stirring them into the pasta mixture until they melt.  (The result is a gooey, cheesy texture similar to a Velveeta recipe)  The cheese slices are optional as it tastes great without them too.  
Place in individual ramekins or 8″ x 8″ (or similar size) pan.  Bake 12-15 minutes or until cheese is thoroughly melted (vegan cheese takes much longer to melt!).
*If you like it with crunchy breadcrumbs on top, just sprinkle 2 Tb. melted butter + 2 Tb. breadcrumbs mixed together on top and bake for about 15 minutes or until browned on top.
Pomegranate Cornbread Muffins:
makes 24 mini muffins, 1 dozen regular sized muffins or 1 loaf
For this recipe I used a boxed mix from Trader Joes.  I know, cop-out..whatever, but honestly I say don’t feel bad about not making everything from scratch if it saves your sanity!
Use 1 box Trader Joes cornbread mix with
1 “flax egg” in place of the real egg (1 Tb. ground flax seeds + 3 Tb. warm water) and
non-dairy milk in place of regular milk (I used almond milk)
Add pomegranate seeds in last, stirring carefully so they don’t bleed color into the batter.  Or, if you’re making muffins, just place the seeds in by hand, poking them down into the cups full of batter after you’ve filled them 3/4 of the way full.
You could use cranberries in place of pomegranate seeds!
Kid-Friendly Candied Sweet Potatoes:
makes about 10 servings
8 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 C. orange juice
1/2 C. pure maple syrup (or use agave nectar)
2 Tb. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tb. non-dairy butter, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 350F.
Slice peeled sweet potatoes into 2-4 large pieces for faster cooking.  Boil until just barely soft, strain and cool.  (Do not over cook them or they’ll break apart.)
In medium bowl, combine orange juice, syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg & vanilla.
Place cooled sweet potatoes on cutting board & slice into bite-sized chunks.  Put the chunks into ramekins or use a 9″ x 13″ (or similar size) baking dish.
Pour liquid mixture evenly over sweet potatoes. Place butter pieces all around sweet potatoes.
Bake 20 minutes.
Sprinkle mini vegan marshmallows on top (or use regular sized vegan ones) and bake an additional 10 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly brown.
*obviously, the more marshmallows you have on top, the more likely it will get eaten by the kids but the yams are super sweet alone too so be sure to let the kids try it!
Mandarin Salad
makes 4-6 servings,
my Mom used to make this one on Holidays I always LOVED it!  
I think it comes from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.  I altered it slightly.
1/4 C. sliced almonds
1 Tb. plus 1 tsp. sugar
2 C. romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 C. arugula or baby spinach (or both!), torn into bite sized pieces
2 medium stalks celery, chopped (about 1 C.)
2 green onions (with tops), thinly sliced (about 2 Tb.)
Sweet & Sour Dressing (see below)
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin orange segments, drained
Cook almonds and sugar over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted and almonds are coated. Cool and break apart.  Store at room temperature.
Place salad leaves in large plastic bag; add celery and onions.  Pour sweet & sour dressing into the bag; add orange segments.  Close bag tightly and shake well until everything is well coated.
Add almonds and shake.
Sweet & Sour Dressing:
1/4 C. vegetable oil
2 Tb. sugar
2 Tb. vinegar
1 Tb. fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
dash of red pepper sauce (optional)
Shake all ingredients in a tightly covered jar; refrigerate unti ready to use.


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