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Happy Whole-I-Days: 10 Plant-Based Holiday Swaps

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Hello All,

With American Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I thought I would share some holiday recipes and ingredients from other plant-based recipe creators that you can use during your family dinners!

While I believe there is some wiggle room to enjoy favorites around the holidays, I also am not a fan of overly greasy gravy or overly sweet pies. So opting to switch out some recipes is not only better for my health, but it's the way my taste buds have grown accustomed to eating!

#1 Lentil Loaf

I love Alexandra's recipes. She actually values taste rather than simplicity, so I find her recipe for lentil loaf is a little more complex, but with more emphasis on flavors and textures to match an original meatloaf.

Lentil loaf is a regular and easy swap for meals that would normally feature a meat main dish (turkey, ham, etc.) because it goes well with a variety of side dishes!

#2 Gravy

You can make your own gravy such as this one from Nora Cooks or you can buy an instant vegan mushroom gravy packet from the grocery store. There are lots of great options such as brands like Simply Organic, GoBio, and even store brands will often make a vegetarian gravy mix.

#3 Cranberry Sauce

We know how delicious and how sweet cranberry sauce can be. Yet it is such a refreshing addition to a traditional holiday meal, especially if that meal includes turkey! So many people have discovered the tricks for making cranberry sauce more whole-foods plant-based but here is one that uses dates instead of another sugar swap like honey or maple syrup (which are still just sugar). Dates have some added vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and yet are so dang sweet! Try this cranberry sauce from

#4 Stuffing

Ooh ooh ooh, boy do I love stuffing. It's been my favorite Thanksgiving dish since I was a child! And realistically speaking, it's not the worst side dish on the table. I'm always surprised how little butter you need to make some pretty good-tasting stuffing! And you can always choose a multigrain loaf as the bread base to add in some fiber and micronutrients.

Try this recipe from Cooking with Parita for a very traditional stuffing that is still moist and satisfying.

#5 Green Bean Casserole

Another favorite of mine is green bean casserole. We all know that the crispy fried onions are what make this meal absolutely delicious. But they can also be full of saturated fat, especially from very NON-eco-friendly palm oil. So I have a few options for you here. You can make your own crispy fried onions by following this recipe here and swapping those and vegan cream of mushroom soup in a more traditional recipe. Or you can completely follow a new recipe that includes using baked onions and almonds for crunch on top. Find the recipe from Forks Over Knives here.

#6 Dinner Rolls

This is a staple for many people during holiday dinners. For a simple vegan dinner roll recipe, check out this recipe from Minimalist Baker.

#7 Potatoes

Whether mashed or scalloped, baked or roasted, potatoes are a hit for holiday dinner parties. What's not to love about the humble potato? Starchy, savory, and able to take on flavors well. Unfortunately, potato recipes have a history of pairing healthy and delicious potatoes with some notorious ingredients like cheese and butter. For a healthy scalloped potato dish, check out this recipe from Plant-Based on a Budget.

#8 Vegetables

Does your family have that signature vegetable dish? Corn casserole, bacon fried brussel sprouts, or a decadent salad? Here are some side dishes that inspire us to be our healthiest selves, even during the holidays.

Miso Roasted Brussels Sprouts by Lazy Cat Kitchen

Vegan Broccoli Salad by Eating Bird Food

Vegan Creamed Corn by Food With Feeling

Or try one of these 14 vegan salad dressings from Forks Over Knives

#9 Pie

We all know what's waiting for us at the end of a delicious holiday meal! Dessert! While pie is extremely common, there are lots of tasty sweets we can expect at the end of a meal. If you are a pie person, try baking some plant-based pies this holiday season. Satisfying without the corn syrup, evaporated milk, or added butter and sugar!

Pecan Pie by the Physicians Committee for responsible medicine

Pumpkin Pie Tart with Oat Crust by Forks Over Knives

Vegan Apple Pie by The Plant-Based Cooking Show

No-Bake Vegan Chocolate Pie by Eat Plant-Based

#10 Holiday Desserts

For those others who aren't really into pies, but LOVE holiday desserts like gingerbread, cookies, chocolates, peanut brittle, and all the rest, then here are some recipes that you can try that have a healthier take on traditional desserts.

Jam Dot Holiday Cookies by Forks Over Knives

Vegan Peppermint Mocha Cookies by Thank You Berry Much

Vegan Chocolate Mousse by Nadia's Healthy Kitchen

Plant-Based Christmas Nog by yours truly Lucy Luong!

No matter how you celebrate, I hope you are able to find inspiration to adapt and transform your ordinary dinner table into a health-promoting smorgasbord.

Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas!

This article was written by:

Wondering what "evidence-based restorative nutrition" is? I'm committed to giving you evidence-based nutrition advice that helps your body return to its natural most healthful way of functioning. Let's restore your health together!

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Great list of plant-based suggestions for holiday foods, Lucy. Thanks!

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