Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to cook and eat vegan food all day.” Ok, maybe those aren’t the exact lyrics to the song but the sentiments are sincere. Being vegan is fun but the holidays can be a challenge. Occasions that focus on food can sometimes lead to temptation, awkwardness, and feelings of deprivation for plant-based eaters but with a little advance preparation, the negativity can be avoided. Whether you are cooking the Christmas meal or bringing a dish or two to a friend or relative, we can help make sure you have plenty of delicious, vegan foods to eat. If you are cooking for a crowd, these recipes from our Food Monster App are so incredible, no one will miss the meat, dairy or eggs. If you are bringing a dish to somewhere you have been invited, you had better bring a lot because everyone is going to want some of what you brought.

Either way, sit back and see and how to have a vegan, Merry Christmas you will never forget.

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1. Festive Starters

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Source: Herb-and-Nut Encrusted Cheese Log

Every holiday get-together has to have lots of appetizers, finger foods and starters to get the party going. Casual food that people can eat with their hands while mingling makes for a more relaxed and enjoyable environment. One of my favorite starters is bruschetta – crunchy toasted bread topped with amazing spreads. Here is a delicious type of bruschetta that is perfect when made with toasted slices of French or Italian bread. To make my Chimmichurri Bruschetta: Preheat the oven to broil. Stir together 1 cup of chopped fresh parsley, 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, ½ tsp. dried oregano, 2 Tbs. vegan butter, 1 Tbs. vegan grated parmesan, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 2 tsp. minced garlic and kosher salt to taste in a bowl. Spread the chimmichurri over 10-12 slices of bread and broil for 1-2 minutes until the bread is toasted. Alternatively, you can toast the bread and then add the fresh chimmichurri to the bread.

Other appetizers that will make your guests jolly include Sweet Potato Bruschetta, Ultimate Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms, Beet, Fennel and Lime Pate, Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip, Veggies and Mushroom Mini Bites, Vegan Hot Corn Dip with Raw Vegan Noritos, Lotus Chips, Cheesy Roasted Tomatoes and Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips. Impress everyone by making an artisanal cheese plate that just happens to be vegan. Fill a platter with Vegan Cashew Dill Cheese, Vegan Baked Nut Cheese, Kick Ass Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Cheddar Cheese Ball, Vegan Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute, Pepper Jack Cashew Cheese, Smoked Vegan Coconut Gouda, and an Herb and Nut-Encrusted Cheese Log.

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2. Seasonal Soups and Salads

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Source: Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

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Warm soups are always welcome when the weather gets colder. If you are having a sit-down dinner, soup can be served in bowls but don’t skip the soup just because you’re having a more casual gathering. Serve soup in shot glasses that are easy to drink even if your guests are still standing up – no spoons necessary. Choose seasonal soups like Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Rosemary Soup, Curried Pumpkin Soup with Apple CroutonsAcorn Squash Apple Soup, Apple Butternut Squash Soup, and this Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup.

A refreshing salad is always a nice way to preface the meal. Rather than just making a simple tossed salad, use seasonal flavors and ingredients to turn an ordinary salad into an extraordinary one. My favorite winter-themed salad is my Apple, Cranberry, Arugula and Fennel Salad with an Apple Honee Vinaigrette. The spicy arugula, tart cranberries and anise-flavored fennel all fall into balance with the addition of sweet apples and a slightly sweet dressing. To make the salad: combine 6 cups of arugula and 1 head of fennel that has been sliced in a bowl. Core 1 large apple and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Arrange the apples on the salad along with ¼ cup dried cranberries. To make the dressing: combine 3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp. vegan honey, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Whisk until smooth and mix into the salad.

Other salads that will entice people to eat their greens include this Seasonal Sweet Fall SaladRaw Massaged Kale with Fresh Figs and OrangesKale Salad with Apricots and Almonds and this Grilled Beet Salad with Almonds and Dried Cranberries.

3. Exciting Entrees

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Source: Seitan Pot Roast

The entrée is usually the centerpiece of the table. You don’t need a ham or turkey to make your guests happy and satisfied. If you are serving people who are meat-eaters or even vegans who like the taste of “meaty” food, there are many amazing options. Wow everyone with this Seitan and Mushroom BourguignonBraised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chile SauceSeitan Pot Roast (which can also be made with this gluten-free version of seitan), and this Portobello Wellington. For compassionate versions of turkey, try these Gluten-Free Vegan “Turkey” Cutlets and the Unturkey Roast. If your holidays usually have a few seafood dishes, they can also be made without the fish. Make Tempeh “Fish” Fillets, Vegan Tofu Scallops, Tempeh “Crab” Cakes, and Tofu “Shrimp” Scampi.

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For less “meaty” entrees, try this Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa Mushroom PilafCountry Meat Loaf with Gravy, Eggplant Garbanzo Stew or this Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie. When holidays call for dishes that can feed a crowd, casseroles and pasta dishes come to the rescue. Try this Creamy Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna, Ooey-Gooey Baked ZitiPumpkin Gnocchi in Spiced Butter Sauce with Lemon Cashew Cream, Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Kale and Vegan Mozzarella and this Butternut Squash, Portabello, and Spinach Casserole with Vegan Sausage.

4. Special Sides

Rosemary-Roasted-String-Beans

Source: Roasted Rosemary String Beans

Side dishes are always my favorite part of the meal. There is so much variety and you get to eat more than one. I love stuffing and there is no law that says you can only have stuffing if there is a turkey. Try this Thanksgiving Cornbread Stuffing with Gravy, this Onion, Celery and Mushroom Stuffing and this Chestnut Mushroom Stuffing. If you prefer rice stuffings to those with bread, try this Wild Rice Stuffing with Cranberry, Apricot and Scallion or this Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash, Cranberries and Pecans. Everyone will be saying “please pass the potatoes” when you serve these Fried Smashed Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette, Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples and BourbonMaple and Tarragon Sweet Potatoes and Yam Banana Mash. As an alternative to potatoes, serve Cheesy Polenta or use winter squash to make Butternut Squash Risotto, Sauteed Delicata Squash Rings, and Smokey Pumpkin Grits with Maple-Roasted Pepitas.

It is a law (in my house) that some of the side dishes have to be green. Make my Roasted Lemon-Thyme Brussels Sprouts, Pomegranate Balsamic Roasted Vegetables, Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Braised Garlicky Kale, Spicy Lemon-Sauteed Broccolini, Hoppin’ John with Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas, Sauteed Beet Red Greens, Easy and Delicious Roasted Rosemary String Beans and Green Beans with Toasted Mustard Seeds and Garlic.

These Roasted Chestnuts may not be “roasting on an open fire” but they are delicious and addictive straight from the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Take ½ pound of chestnuts and on each nut’s flat side, cut a large X with a sharp paring knife through the skin. Arrange the chestnuts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, shaking the pan to flip the nuts halfway through. Allow them to cool just a bit and then peel them while they are still warm.

5. Glorious Gravy, Biscuits and Sauces

chutney

Source: Cranberry and Clementine Chutney

Forget those biscuits that come in a tube. It’s easy to make your own even when the biscuits are vegan and gluten-free. Try my Gluten-Free Garlic and Rosemary Cheddar Biscuits which are flaky, tender and delicious. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups gluten-free, all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. xanthan or guar gum, 1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. dried rosemary and ½ tsp. garlic powder. Mix well to combine. Add 1 cup non-dairy milk and ½ cup melted vegan butter or olive oil and mix until you have a thick batter. Fold in 4 oz. vegan cheddar cheese shreds. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup sprayed with cooking oil, drop dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush milk on the tops of the biscuits. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown. Serve with your favorite gravy.

My favorite gravy is thick and luscious. Check out my tutorial for making the perfect brown, white or mushroom gravy and then try these amazing recipes: Easy Mushroom Gravy, Vegan Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, Gluten-Free Biscuits and Mushroom Gravy and Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy.

Let’s not forget the amazing sauces and relishes that adorn the table. Make this Cranberry-Pineapple Sauce, Easy Cranberry Sauce, Orange-Infused Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry and Clementine Chutney and this Spiced Cranberry, Ginger and Pear Sauce.

6. Wondrous Desserts

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Source: Santa Claus Strawberries

Desserts are delicious all year long but there is something extra-special about the desserts served at Christmastime. The colors are more festive, the designs are cuter and they bring so much cheer to people. If you really want to see people smile, serve these adorable Santa Claus Strawberries, Struffoli, and this One-Pot Pecan Sticky Toffee Pudding. For fruity desserts, try this Whipped Coco Cream Tart with Fresh Berries, these Sweet Cherry Tarts, Raw Chocolate Raspberry Cups, Raw Gingerbread and Chocolate Tarts, Lavender and Lemon Vegan Cheesecake, Orange Chocolate Cheesecake, and this Raw Vegan Chocolate Tart with Coconut Cream and Goji Berries.

Every Christmas, I like to make my Gluten-Free Chai Spice Cookies, Hazelnut Drop Cookies, and Sugar Cookies. You can get tons of cookie recipes if you check out Healthy Vegan Cookie and Milk Combos Santa will Love and 5 Delightful Vegan Christmas Cookies . If pie is your idea of the ideal Christmas dessert, you have to look at 50 Perfectly Sweet Vegan Christmas and Holiday Pies for ideas and recipes. Everyone loves cake for dessert. Here are 10 Festive Vegan Cakes for Christmas. One of my favorite ways to eat chocolate is in the form of truffles. If you have never made your own truffles, it’s easy. Learn how in Truffles and Chocolates, Oh My – 15 Recipes for a Vegan Christmas.

7. The Company

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Source: Gluten-Free Vegan Turkey

It may seem like the holidays are all about food but in reality, they are not. These special occasions are really about celebrating with friends and family and spending time with the people you love. The dinner table is not the time or place to get into arguments or debates. If anyone asks about your choice to not eat meat, eggs or dairy, let them know you will be happy to explain it to them after dinner. If anyone gives you a hard time or mocks you, smile and move on to another conversation. Don’t let people get a rise out of you. If you don’t give them the response they want, they are the ones who will look foolish. Make your stand by being confident and proud of your position. When someone offers you ham or broccoli covered in dairy cheese, simply smile and say, “Thanks but I don’t eat ____ but could you please pass the seitan?”

Christmas is a joyous time and it’s also a great opportunity to show how proud and confident you are with your food choices. Sharing vegan dishes, whether at your own home or by bringing some to your host’s place, is a great way to show people just how delicious plant-based food can be. Don’t forget that food also makes wonderful gifts. Check out my 12 Ideas for Making Your Own Food Gifts Everyone Will Love.

We at One Green Planet wish you all a Very, Merry Christmas!

Lead Image Source: Raw Gingerbread and Chocolate Tarts