Vegan Holiday Dinner Ideas + A New Recipe

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One of my frequently asked questions around this time of the year is always, “What vegan recipes can I make for my upcoming holiday meals that will impress the skeptics?”

Eating vegetarian, vegan, or other special diet can be challenging, especially around the holidays. It doesn’t help matters when “Uncle Joe” is ranting and raving about the lack of turkey on your plate either! Obviously, many traditional holiday foods are based around animal products, but that doesn’t mean that you have to eat dry lettuce all weekend. Even if you are a meat eater, you can still bring along a vegan dish to impress your family as well. And who knows, once you get your feet wet, you just might find yourself hosting your very own vegan holiday dinner!

When I first became a vegan in 2009, I told my family that I’d love to bring a couple vegan dishes to contribute. Not only is the host/hostess usually eager to have help, but it assures me that I won’t go hungry during a meal that should be fun and celebratory. It also lets the cook know that I don’t expect them to spend hours trying to figure out what to make me. Plus, it’s always fun for me to surprise others with just how delicious vegan recipes can be. Well two years and many vegan recipes later, they aren’t so surprised anymore, but I guess that’s a good thing.

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On Sundays, I love to cook a big hearty meal and this is even more true during Fall and Winter as the temperatures drop and the evenings darken. This weekend, I used Sunday’s meal to try a new holiday recipe that I could share with you. The recipe is a stunning rice pilaf that would make a great addition to any holiday meal. My inspiration came from a “wild rice stuffing” recipe in Bon Appetit, but I don’t like to call it stuffing because 1) it’s more like a hearty rice pilaf, and 2) I’m not stuffing anything, unless of course you count stuffing this dish in my pie hole. Yes, come to think of it I did a lot of stuffing this weekend.

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I’ve never made a rice pilaf quite like this. It’s luxurious tasting while being deceptively healthy and low in oil. The dish only uses 1 tablespoon of olive oil, yet tastes incredibly rich and buttery. Not to mention, it’s packed with antioxidants and other nutrients including cranberries, dried apricots, pecans, and more.

I’ve been looking for a dish like this that I could make for my own holiday dinner and I’m happy to report that I will certainly be making this again at Christmas! I hope you enjoy it too.

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I served dinner with my Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf, steamed carrots (mixed with a bit of Earth Balance, Herbamare, pepper, and sage), maple cornbread muffins (working on the recipe), and High Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Vegan Gravy.

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I also finally perfected my Vegan Pumpkin Pie recipe last week after working on it since late September. Oh, it’s good and well worth the wait. :)

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I will share this recipe soon, complete with a step-by-step tutorial on making a perfect lattice pie crust.

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Need less to say, we’re going to eat very well this week. Anyone want to come over for leftovers?

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Looking for other ideas?

This Ain’t Grandmas Sweet Potato Casserole is one of my favs (this picture does not do it justice). You can prepare it (without cooking) the day before (and place in the fridge), bring to room temperature, and cook it 45 mins before dinner is served.

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Brownie Pumpkin Pie with a Crunchy Pecan Streusel Topping is very well-reviewed too.

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Now hopefully you can keep your cool, have fun, and give thanks for all your blessings this holiday season.

Stay tuned for a few more holiday dishes coming up! In addition to the pie recipe, I have a few other things planned (maybe a festive harvest salad, a drink, and another fruity side dish) so hopefully they turn out!

What is your biggest hurdle with holiday dinners? Eating healthy? Being veg or gluten-free, etc? Getting along with “Uncle Joe”?

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{ 159 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather @ Get Haalthy with Heather November 14, 2011

I love thanksgiving every year! We typically have 2, 1 traditional one with the hubs family then 1 focused on much healthier and creative options with my family. I love all the variety!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

I like the idea of having 2! Thats what we did last year :)

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Rebecca November 14, 2011

This is EXACTLY the question I wanted to ask! Thank you so much!

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Stephanie November 14, 2011

Although I’m not vegan, I’ve been following your blog for a few months & I LOVE your recipes! I love to cook & bake – and search for “healthy” alternatives. Your recipes are wonderful and I’m easing toward a vegan lifestyle. Thank you so much, I look forward to each new blog!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

Thank you Stephanie! :)

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Amber K November 14, 2011

My hardest hurdle is the multiple food intolerances I have in addition to my vegetarian preferences. Basically I can’t eat anything unless I bring it myself. With some sections of family this is fine, but at others they seem offended that I bring dishes to share. They already have a TON of food and there’s barely room on the table for it. I’ve been bringing at least one dish for years so I would think they’d be used to it by now. The food issue is the main reason the holidays are so stressful!

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Lia November 14, 2011

You have been my go to for holiday dinners! Love your holiday recipes particularly! When I went vegan, after the first awkward holiday season, my family realized they could just say, “well you have the special diet, we work, you can cook, why don’t you plan (insert holiday dinner here).” so now I take the majority of cooking, and after proving that there is sucha sweet thing as vegan goodness, they love it! Makes everyone’s life easier.

Funny enough, I had issues with my older cousin at holiday meals. He lived to Mick and argue and, as if this past year when CNN did that special on Esselstyn (spelling) and the heart attack prevention diet (ends up being a whole foods vegan diet) he’s just talking about how he is working on increasing the vegan presence in his life. I think this holidy will be peachy ;)

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Red Deception November 14, 2011

My challenge is with “Uncle B”, who insists that I need to eat chicken and fish to be healthy! I always bring a mushroom risotto and dessert to surprise the palate of my carnivore family – this weekend all of my food was taken home, no leftovers for me! Everyone liked it very much, and I wasn’t left starving :)

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Alexis November 14, 2011

Angela, which of these reciepes can be made before and which ones would you suggest same day prep/eating? want to try some of these delicious ideas and possibly incorporate into Cooking Demos with my clients as i feel like they are ‘crowd pleasers’.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

Hey Alexis,
Great question!

Prep the day before:
- sweet potato casserole (don’t cook it, but put it in the fridge and cook the next day)
- lentil loaf (can be made a day ahead of time, but I would probably cook it for about 10 mins less and then reheat it in the oven the before serving) OR you can just not cook it all together and cook the day of (same as the SP casserole)
- You can make the mashed potatoes the day before and then heat up with a bit of milk and earth balance
- this rice pilaf can be made the day before (as indicated in the directions)
- I’ve made the brownie pumpkin pie the morning of and it was fine. Im not sure how it would be making it a day in advance, as cakes can dry out quicker than expected.

I prefer to cook my veggies the day of so they are nice and fresh, so things like carrots I would do just before serving.

Hope this helps!

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Kiran @ KiranTarun.com November 14, 2011

Everything looks so drool-worthy! I wish we were neighbors ;)

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles November 14, 2011

Thanks for all the ideas! I’m supposed to be making a vegan feats for my sister and I to enjoy and I haven’t even started compiling recipes yet!

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Kelly November 14, 2011

It’s so funny that you have this post today. Just last week I figured out my Thanksgiving menu…lentil loaf, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie. I just have one question on the sweet potato casserole. It looks more like a dessert. Is it a side dish or a dessert? I’m making my own meal since I’m the only vegan but others will be sampling what I bring. I want to have something well rounded and not just desserts.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

Hey Kelly, Typically sweet potato casseroles are served as a side dish. That’s how my family always did it. The casserole is supposed to be sweet, but my version isn’t as sweet as most. I don’t think it’s “too dessert-like” for the dinner, but of course enjoy it any way you like. I’ve had it for breakfast before…shhhh. ;)

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Kelly November 15, 2011

Thanks! Can I make the lentil loaf the night before and then bake it when I get to Mom’s? It looks like both are baked on just about the same temp. And I’m definitely trying the sweet potato casserole for breakfast the next day. Your secret is safe with me.

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TeenyLittleSuperChef November 14, 2011

How would one even miss not having dead animal carcass on their plates when they have all these other yummy dishes to devour. I pretty much drooled on my keyboard thinking about your sweet potato casserole and the brownie pie. I have a feeling these items will be on our menu this coming Thanksgiving. This will be the first one that my husband and I will both be completely vegan and I’m happy to be able to have wonderful things to serve at our family dinner that won’t completely freak out all the carnivores. I have a feeling they’ll not only love them but probably want to know the recipes. Thanks Angela!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

I hope the recipes meet your expectations (and others!) enjoy :)

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Lauren (Diary of a Vegan Girl) November 14, 2011

All of these recipes look amazing!

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Ashley November 14, 2011

Wow, you’ve got the full spread nailed down. Your pie crust is impressive and I love the nuts on top. Can’t wait to check out that recipe!! Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite desserts!

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Moni'sMeals November 14, 2011

Such a great post. I have it pretty great when it comes to Holiday cooking, but if I had to say a challenge I face is, the skeptics…those darn “Uncle Joe’s”
However, I usually always can change their mind. :)

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Hilliary @ Happily Ever Healthy November 14, 2011

The pictures are making me drool at my desk! I want to make everything, espicially the cranberry, Apircot and pecan wild rice pilaf!

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Robyn November 14, 2011

Those recipes look great – cant wait to try them, and looking forward to more:) You’re still planning on posting the biscotti thought, right?!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

haha yes I fully intend on getting that darn biscotti recipe right! It’s just taking longer than expected. I’ll do another trial this week. :) I can’t do too many in a row or I start to go insane. Well more insane than usual..

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Kris | iheartwellness.com November 14, 2011

YUM!!! Ok, I need to make this fancy schmancy rice dish!! Hubba Hubba!! I feel that since the meat train has stopped over here, I leave the holidays feeling fresher and lighter, you know??

Love your recipes girl!!

xxoo

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Amy November 14, 2011

When it’s a holiday meal where no one is expected to bring anything, I get stuck eating boiled carrots and mashed potatoes… which aren’t even vegan, but full of butter. Makes me think I should just eat the turkey too! lol With those meals, I wish I could just show up like everyone else and get a break from cooking. But thanks to food blogs, I have a growing list of possible dishes to bring – just got to narrow down the quickest/easiest ones to make so that it can still feel like a break from cooking. However, this year, the hosts don’t want us using their kitchen, to put salad ingredients together or to reheat our dish…… not sure how that’s going to work – we live 2 mins from there, but we only eat a few hours into our get-together. Might be a raw vegan Christmas! heheh…

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

hmm that is challenging. It sounds like one of those thermal food bags would help (but I imagine they are expensive!). Maybe a salad packed with things like nuts, lentils, fruit, etc?

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Carolina November 14, 2011

Hey Angela,
That sweet potato casserole looks heavenly! I’m dying to try it. I’m just not sure..is it a dessert or a main dish? I saw the ingredients and it seems to be very sweet, so…?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

The SP casserole is traditionally served as a side dish (that’s how my family always did it). It is supposed to be sweet, but my version isn’t as sweet as most. I always loved it as a side dish growing up (and usually they had marshmallows broiled on top!!)

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Carolina November 14, 2011

hmmmmmmm marshmallows!!! I am definately trying this out, I’ll buy some vegan marshmallows soon! :)

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin November 14, 2011

That pilaf looks amazing! I love rice dishes with dried fruit in them!

I don’t have many hurdles with my Thanksgiving dinners with my family, but I have problems when it comes to Thanksgiving treats baked by friends. They usually contain nuts (or may contain them), so I can’t eat them. :(

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Alexandra November 14, 2011

Just read this blog while listening to Michael Buble’s new Christmas CD… okay its a little early for Christmas but I want to get in the spirit…
Definately need to try the rice pilaf and sweet potato casserole!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2011

Oh I need to check out that CD…

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Char @ www.charskitchen.ca November 14, 2011

Oh man, I love stuffing! Though I’m a sucker for the bread stuffing as opposed to the rice pilafs. But that’s just me ;)

Your pumpkin pie looks beautiful! One day I wanna make one that pretty, with the ribbons on it :D

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Kaila @healthyhelperblog! November 14, 2011

YES PLEASE!! I will get over the Peace bridge ASAP!! That meal looks incredible!!!!!! I want every single part of it!!!

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Elise November 14, 2011

Where I live, in the American-South, it’s pretty traditional to cook “stuffing” in a casserole dish in the oven, instead of in a bird, and we call it dressing! Although we usually make it with cornbread and biscuits, not wild-rice, haha.

My biggest challenge at holiday meals is surprisingly not being a vegetarian (I like to cook, so always being in the kitchen to help and see how everything is made makes it easy), but a certain someone thinking I don’t eat enough! I’m more of a “grazer” and prefer to eat many small meals/snacks so when it comes to an over-sized holiday meal I simply can’t fit it all in.

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laura November 14, 2011

Love the colour!
Can wait for the pie recipe :)

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Stacie November 14, 2011

You had me at “Anyone want to come over….” :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 15, 2011

:)

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Melissa S November 14, 2011

That pie looks AMAZING!!! My biggest hurdles for holiday meals are being gluten free and lactose free! I am excited to try your rice pilaf for christmas!

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Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats November 14, 2011

Oh my Ange! The pilaf dish sounds fantastic along with everything else on this page! My biggest challenge at the holidays is having so many events to go to since my parents are divorced. My goal this year is to not stuff my face at every single gathering!

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Andrea November 14, 2011

Angela, I wanted to let you know that I made your recipe for Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burritos last night! Prior to making it, I’d never had a burrito. Or black beans. OR butternut squash. (I know, I know..) So this was definately something new for me! I was even questioning myself while cooking thinking I might not like it but OMG yes I love it! It definately made quite a bit, so it will be nice to have leftovers for this week! :) You’ve made me a bean/burrito/butternut believer! Thank you for the recipe!

There’s a few other recipes I’m dying to make as well like the pumpkin butter swirl bread and the pumpkin gingerbread cake! I’ll let ya know how they turn out :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 15, 2011

That’s fantastic! The leftovers reheat so well too which is always nice. Enjoy!

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Kelly @ Foodie Fiasco November 14, 2011

Is there anything you can’t do? Really? I don’t think so. Got any problems? Go to Angela. Can’t eat what everyone else does at during the holidays? Go to Angela. Can’t do your math homework? Go to Angela.

You rock, my friend.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 15, 2011

I don’t know who you are talking about but I would like to meet her someday. ;)

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga November 14, 2011

“I also finally perfected my Vegan Pumpkin Pie recipe last week after working on it since late September. Oh, it’s good and well worth the wait. :)” <– YAY!!!

Nothing like one or 17 recipe trials later (I'm sure!) to perfect things. I know you always trial and re-trial and re-re-trial your recipes. Probably not a horrible 'job' with pie but ya know. Can't wait to try it.

The lattice crust is gorgeous.

Biggest hurdle with holiday meals…well, we are 2000+ miles from the nearest family so we don't have any hurdles with that.

Biggest hurdle now is that I try to cook for only three people, me, Scott, and 4 year old…without making enough leftovers to last til Xmas :)

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Casey @ Insatiably Healthy November 14, 2011

Me and my cousin are both veg so I’m not too worried on that front. But I come from a line of amazing chefs, so I’m worried I wont be able to pace myself with all of the delicious food. Good thing I’m doing a turkey trot before hand!

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Laura @ She Eats Well November 15, 2011

I am drooling over your Sweet Potato casserole. I must make this immediately…before Thanksgiving! I cannot wait.

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Christine November 15, 2011

I made the ultimate vegan lentil walnut loaf for Canadian Thanksgiving and took it to my mom’s house along with a gluten free vegan pumpkin pie. The loaf was amazing! It was my first Thanksgiving without turkey and I have to say I didn’t miss it – surprisingly really – because the flavors of everything else were just so good. Thank you so much for continuing to develop such amazing recipes! I am drooling to make mashed potatoes right now (and it’s almost 10 pm… though sometimes I eat cauliflower for breakfast so why not mash…). Or maybe some gingerbread cake… :D

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 15, 2011

Hey Christine, I’m so happy to hear that! I too find the loaf so satisfying. There are just so many textures and flavours in it.

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com November 15, 2011

This looks lovely!

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Jillian@ladolcevitavegan November 15, 2011

That rice pilaf looks amazing! My biggest challenge during the holidays is my diet-vegan and GF. But your recipes make that a LOT easier! This is an awesome post, thanks for sharing!! :)

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Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes November 15, 2011

These all look so good! I’m looking for some vegetarian recipe ideas for out holiday meal as I don’t eat meat anymore.

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Jess @ Jess Go Bananas November 15, 2011

My biggest hurdle would have to be being a vegetarian and dealing with the “Uncle Joes.” Yes there are more than 1 of them!!! But I have developed a thick skin over the years, and this year I will prove to them just how delicious a veg meal can be!!!

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LizAshlee November 15, 2011

The new recipe sounds amazing- I love the idea of cranberries and pecans with the wild rice…YUM! :) As always, you inspire the most wonderful creations..thanks!

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh November 15, 2011

These all look so wonderful! I’m a meat eater so I can’t give up my turkey for Thanksgiving but I’m always looking for ways to incorporate vegan dishes into everyday life when I can. It’s nice to know there are some great comfort food classics that can be slipped in. ;)

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