A Happy, Healthy Vegan Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving us one of my favorite holidays. Not only do we get to eat, drink, and be merry, we get to be grateful for all the blessings in our lives.

I’m sad I won’t be spending thanksgiving in my grandparents’ house and all the familiar faces and food that come with the holiday. I love that, every single year, my grandfather makes all of us take turns explaining what we’re thankful for.

This year I’m thankful for more things than years past. So many wonderful things have happened that I’m far past thankful for everything in my life.
I finally graduated college and found an awesome job – a feat that so many friends, family and mentors considered impossible. I got engaged to the love of my life and we snagged an apartment a mere mile from the beach. And my family got to finally adopt my little brother, Ryan, who we’ve cared for since he was born.

With so many things falling into place, I decided to have a mini pre-thanksgiving meal with my fiancΓ© to celebrate our new place. And of course, I wanted to make it healthy and cruelty-free – because above all, I’m thankful for my health.

I’m lucky enough to be spending today with y best friend from home (yay!) who’s visiting the island, but I have a few snapshots from my impromptu turkey-free feast. I have links to the blogs I got the recipes from and how I tweaked them to my own liking (and limited ingredients) so feel free to do the same πŸ™‚

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For my small kine spread, I made a lentil loaf, orange-cranberry sauce, and shoyu-wine baked Brussels sprouts. I got a little lazy and tried out some pre-made vegan stuffing from Whole Foods. Which was actually really, really good!

Since it takes a while to cook, the first thing I made was the lentil loaf from OH SHE GLOWS. I absolutely adore this good blog – and the lentil loaf was no exception to Angela’s usual deliciousness.

Unlike traditional meat loaf’s saturated fat and hefty calorie count, lentil loaf touts all the perks of lentils. Low in calories, sky-high in fiber, and a single cup packs almost as much protien as a beef burger.

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Plus, most of the other ingredients are veggies – celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and some flaxseed, bread crumbs and flour. By substituting gluten-free bread and flour, this lovely loaf gets even better.

I made some tweaks to this recipe. I took out the walnuts since I’m allergic, and didn’t have any other nuts in hand to replace them. The dish didn’t taste like it was lacking, but I’ll probably throw in some pecans the next time I make it.
I’m a sucker for heat, so I added a diced jalapeΓ±o and some cayenne pepper. I also don’t have a bread pan, so I ended up smashing it into a casserole dish. It still came out perfect, it just wasn’t too pretty.

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I absolutely love cranberry sauce – many a time I’ve been scolded by my grandma for eating the leftovers with a spoon post-meal. Cranberries aren’t just delicious – they’re a superfood riddled with vitamins and powerful antioxidants.

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Most recipes bog the benevolent berries down with sugar, butter and the like. I like to enjoy my cranberry sauce guilt free, so I took a basic recipe (berries, loads of sugar, etc) and made some simple tweaks. I swapped half of the sugar for truvia (a.k.a. stevia) and added some red wine and orange juice to boost flavor without adding loads of calories.

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Brussels sprouts are versatile, nutrient-rich and super easy to make. They’re also one of the few veggies my fiancΓ© likes, so they wind up on our plates pretty often. In order to stop myself from killing off the remaining red wine, I soaked the sprouts in a mixture of a quarter-cup wine, two to three tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, and four cloves of minced garlic. I tossed in two tablespoons of olive oil and threw them in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes. And yeah, they were bomb. So much so that very few of them made it into the final picture.

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Happy, healthy thanksgiving!

Nikki

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