27 Plant-based Holiday Recipes for the Meat-Lover Family (Chef Tested)

Whether it's you or it's your niece going plant-based, you want some healthy options for the holidays.

These simple recipes will make it easy to add variety to your holiday table. 


Most people switch to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) or vegan lifestyle to improve their health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.


But, when the holidays come around, this can be the hardest time to eat more plant-based. Some of our favorite dishes from childhood are most likely not vegan.


I don’t teach restriction. If you want a slice of pumpkin pie then have it. But, balance it with some super fresh and healthy dishes before you have that pie.


That way you don’t feel deprived.


The other thing is to make dishes that make your mouth water AND are plant-based. And, that is what the following recipes will help you with.


You’ll find seasonal ingredients like butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, pomegranate, apples, sweet potatoes and warm spices. There will be no deprivation here! 


We are indulging in the best fall and winter have to offer.


All these recipes are plant-based and most of them are gluten-free. Sometimes I like to add a little cheese on top but leave it out if you are strict.


The main point I want to get across is to enjoy these holidays more fully. Take time to nourish yourself and spend time with the people that make you bloom.


Take note of the gifts that are around us every day, not just the ones come wrapped in paper.


This is a way to care for your body and the people you love. 


Remember when preparing meals to do it with a loving attitude and energy. People can taste it!


These are recipes I have been feeding my family for years.


Some I learned from my Armenian grandma and others I learned along the way working with dieticians. Not all vegan food tastes good. I’ve done the work and tested them all, and have just included the ones that have the approval of my meat-eating family.


Enjoy warming your kitchen with these recipes.

From my kitchen to yours!


Happy Holidays,


Chef Joanna


P.S. If you make any of these dishes, I'd love to see them. Tag me! @chefjoannas

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Breakfast

'Pancakes for breakfast' doesn't always mean cake for breakfast. With some pumpkin pie spice and ground oats, you'll have a warm, light and satisfying treat for your fall or winter mornings. 


My brother constantly requests this homemade granola. It's not the typical 'crushed up cookies in a box' you'll find in the grocery store. Its less sweet and now the only granola my brother eats. 



If you find yourself frazzled in the morning, your best bet is to make an overnight breakfast. It's not only something to look forward to, but the chances of you eating healthier are much better. Prepare this in minutes the night before, then eat it straight from the fridge the next morning. 



Soup

With only 7 ingredients, this soup is the best way to enjoy your sweet butternut squash. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt and pumpkin seeds on top to make it special. 



4. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

One pound of frozen spinach and one potato come together to make this super healthy popeye soup. I don't think there is any guilt eating a soup as green as this. Spinach eaters, get in this!



The classic combo of carrot and ginger is perfect for the holidays. This soup is light and has a hint of orange, cinnamon and nutmeg to make it a little more special. 


6. The Ultimate Carrot Ginger Soup in 30 Minutes

Salads

I've had tabuli on the holiday table ever since I can remember. This is my grandma's recipe and makes me think of her every time. Her secret: more lemon!



7. Grandma’s Armenian Tabuli

This one's for my brother. He requests this salad every holiday and he is a meat lover. So, I HAVE to make it! It's a hit at the table. 



I've been making this salad for years as a caterer. It's always gone by the end of the night. It can be a meal in itself or a side dish. I love mix of sweet butternut and tart arugula. The dressing is SO good and is a mix of orange and pomegranate juice. 



This is a riff on the salad previous. It has the sweetness from sweet potatoes and is dressed with balsamic vinegar for a tartness. Love the combo. 




In fall and winter, warm spices are nice on cold days. 'Ras el Hanout' is a spice mix from Morocco that you can make yourself. It seasons these baby carrots and a drizzle of honey makes the ultimate spicy-sweet combo. 



This is my favorite coleslaw. It's not the creamy stuff you get at a fish n chips place. The dressing is a mix of sugar, vinegar and celery seed. The best part is that it gets better the longer it sits in the fridge so it makes great leftovers. 



A very simple salad spiced with a hint of cumin. With a few fresh herbs, it feels light and a great side dish to heavier dishes. 


13. Moroccan Carrot Salad

Sides

Danielle taught me this green bean dish and I can't wait to make it for the holidays again. Green beans are stewed in tomato and onion to make them not another boring vegetable side. Add an exotic dish to you family table. 



14. Lebanese Green Bean Stew (Lubyi) by Danielle

This is another recipe that is always requested when I cater. The dish is finished by the end of the night. The secret to great Brussels: let the Brussels roast a little longer until they really crisp up. Then, drizzle with a little more of the honey-lemon dressing when you're ready to serve them. 


This one takes a little longer to prepare but the good thing is that you can assemble it the day before, like you would a lasagna. Pop it in the oven once you're ready to serve. The mix of apples, sage and dried cherries make a vegetarian stuffing to die for!



Beets get a bad rep because I think people just try to avoid them at salad bars. But, roast them with with cinnamon and bay leaf and toss them in a pistachio-orange vinaigrette and then tell me what you think!



I learned this recipe working at a restaurant in LA. You can't have French fries for Thanksgiving, but these will do just fine! Boil the potatoes the day before, then smash them and crisp them up in the oven. It's healthier and you get that crispy and soft center you're after. 



18. Smashed Potatoes

Mains

This one is not as traditional, but it's such a meal in itself that it could probably feed you the whole week. It heats up really well so if you just want a warming, hearty soup, make this soup. I'm not a huge gumbo fan, but I LOVE this one. (My family does too)



19. Vegan Gumbo

Another recipe from grandma. A mix of eggplant, peppers, tomato, and parsley makes for a light dish that adds something exotic to the table. This should be straight out of the Mediterranean Diet cookbook!






















Eating vegan doesn't mean you can't have some hearty, maybe decadent dishes. This is a risotto that will take 30 minutes or so of stirring to prepare. But it is oh-so-good. The creaminess comes from pureed butternut squash, not cream, butter, or cheese. It doesn't taste like it's vegan, it's that good. 



Let's be honest that squash will never be a replacement for pasta. But, if you are trying to watch your carbs, try this healthy combo. Spaghetti squash gets roasted and then tossed with garlic, red pepper flakes and cherry tomatoes to make a simple and tasty gluten-free dish. 


22. Spaghetti Squash al Pomodoro


Dessert

One of the top recipes on the blog. It doesn't taste vegan and everyone will love it. 


23. Vegan Pumpkin Spice Bread

Does fall get more beautiful than this? It's dessert and art at the same time. 



Another top recipe on the blog. It has quite a lot of ingredients, but it's full of fruit and vegetables. It's perfect to eat for breakfast. 



A lighter apple crisp. Oats make this crispy topping. 


These pears take a plunge in orange juice and cinnamon to cook and take on some flavor. As the liquid reduces, it makes a beautiful sauce that looks decadent, but the recipe is a light one!




Need more help?


Join the 'Cook to 100' program to learn more about plant-based cooking basics. Or check out 80% plant-based meal plans. 





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