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How to Enjoy Christmas as a Vegan

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When it comes to food, most of us probably associate Christmas with turkey, roast beef, glazed ham and creamy yuletide log cakes. While they are often responsible for much of that notorious festive season weight gain, these dishes are also typically the highlight of Christmas dinner – some might say the highlight of Christmas, period.

Skipping them during the holiday would seem to be a cardinal sin. So how do vegans get through Christmas, then? Surely it’s the most vegan-unfriendly holiday of all.

If you’ve decided to embrace veganism, or just want to get an early start on your New Year’s resolution to lose weight by preparing healthier festive meals, never fear. Your guests may baulk at the idea of a meat-free Christmas, but we’ve got you covered.

These easy-to-make yet comforting vegan dishes will make sure you don’t miss having to skip the fun of Christmas food. They might not exactly replace a Christmas turkey or a rack of roast lamb, they are still rich and flavourful enough to leave your guests to enjoy.

Vegan shepherd’s pie

Ingredients:

6 gold potatoes, mashed finely and mixed with 3 tablespoons of margarine

1 large onion, sliced

400g of fresh mushrooms, sliced

6 carrots, peeled and chopped

A few bay leaves, 1 sprig of thyme

3 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 tablespoon of flour

1/2 cup of red wine

1 cup of vegetable broth

1 packet of frozen peas

Salt to taste

Optional: you can add in some mock meats if you want to give it a meat-like texture.

Instructions:

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in an oven-safe pot. Add onion and sauté till soft and translucent. Add carrots, mushrooms and herbs. Cook until vegetables and mushrooms are soft.

2. Add tomato paste and flour, then pour in the red wine. Let the mixture cook slightly, then add the vegetable broth slowly until a gravy firms. Season with salt and simmer on low heat until the gravy thickens.

3. Remove the herbs, mix in the peas and spread potato on top. Brush the top with vegetable oil and bake for 15 minutes at 180°C with the pot open to brown the top layer.

Roast cauliflower

Ingredients:

2 heads of cauliflower, with the bottom leaves removed and split into florets

3 cloves of garlic, minced

A handful of finely chopped almonds

Salt, pepper and a sprinkle of paprika

A few tablespoons of olive oil

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C

2. Mix olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper with the cauliflower in a large bowl. Make sure the cauliflower is well-coated with oil and the seasonings.

3. Lay cauliflower on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, turning once halfway until edges of cauliflower are browned and tender. Sprinkle a dash of paprika and the finely chopped almonds and roast for 3 more minutes until almonds are slightly toasted.

Optional: You can use nutritional yeast as a topping for a “cheesy taste”

Black bean stuffed peppers

Ingredients:

3 bell peppers, halved with seeds removed

200g cooked quinoa

130g cooked black beans

200g of salsa or pasta sauce

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

A few bay leaves

Salt and black pepper to taste

Optional toppings:

Avocado

Chopped red onion

Parsley

Chilli flakes

Crushed tortilla flakes

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lay the bell peppers onto an oiled baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes

2. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl

3. Stuff the peppers with the mixture and bake for another 20 minutes

4. Serve with toppings. For a non-vegan version you can add sour cream as a topping.

Vegan Christmas fruit cake (with flaxseed as an egg substitute)

Ingredients:

Flaxseed eggs:

2 tablespoon ground flaxseeds and 6 tablespoons water

(Mix and let rest for 15 minutes)

Dry ingredients:

500g of mixed dried fruit

60g of chopped dried apricots

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 can of crushed pineapple in juice

120ml of orange juice

460g of all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

Instructions:

1. Line baking tin with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 150°C.

2. Place dried fruit, pineapple, orange juice and spices in a large pot. Bring to slow boil and continue stirring. Simmer until mixture softens and caramelises.

3. Mix flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add flaxseed eggs and fruit mixture to bowl and mix thoroughly.

4. Pour batter into baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean.

5. Let the cake cool or chill in fridge until serving time.

Vegan pumpkin pie

Ingredients:

Pie filling:

1 can of puréed pumpkin

180ml of coconut milk

150grams of brown sugar

32grams of flourish

60ml of maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extracting

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Pie shell:

1 portion of vegan shortcrust pastry (Jus-Rol is a vegan option available in Cold Storage and Redmart)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Blend all pie filling ingredients until smooth.

3. Pour filling into pie shell and smooth evenly with a spoon.

4. Bake in oven for 60 minutes. Let pie cool overnight.

5. Decorate with whipped coconut cream

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