Holidays are a wonderful time when we can spend them with the people we love. Often, when we are trying to eat in a way that is healthy and compassionate, we can feel a bit of anxiety as the holidays approach. For many people, holidays are associated with foods that are unhealthy, toxic, inflammatory and indigestion-inducing. But sharing delicious, satisfying, comforting meals that are made from whole, healthy, plant based ingredients can be a gift you give to everyone.
For the past few years, I’ve created all of my holiday menus with simplicity in mind. I used to spend an entire day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving preparing complicated vegan lasagnas and a ton of side dishes. By the time it came time to eat, I was exhausted, and there was no way I could eat all of the foods I had just prepared.
But, being a mom of two, and having had wonderful home-cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas meals every year with my family growing up, I wanted to provide similar traditions and experiences for my own children, so I guess on many levels I felt like that was the only way to create a wonderful memory. But I came to understand that preparing delicious simple meals made with love and fresh ingredients allowed me to be more present in the moment with my family. No longer was I “in the kitchen” all day, but I was playing with my kids, enjoying the day, and anticipating a superb and memorable meal.
I hope my holiday recipes can help ease some of your stress this season, and allow you to share healthful, plant based meals with the people you love.
So from my Rawganic kitchen to yours, I offer you one of my favorite “centerpiece” holiday recipes, along with wishes for a healthy, peaceful, and abundant holiday season.
White Bean and Spinach Stuffed Kabocha Squash with Cauliflower Bechamel (serves 4)
2 kabocha squash, halved and seeded
Salt to taste
½ onion, peeled and minced
½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 cups baby spinach
2 garlic cloves
1 TBSP minced sage
2 cups cooked cannellini beans or 2 cans of beans
¾ cup oats, pulsed in blender to make flour
3 TBSP nutritional yeast
3 TBSP pine nuts
Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350f. Season squash with salt and pepper Place the halves on the prepared baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake until the squash is tender, about 45 minutes.
While squash is cooking, place onion and red pepper in a large saucepan and sauté over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Add the spinach, garlic, and sage and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the oat flour, nutritional yeast (if using), pine nuts, and lemon zest. Mix well. Divide the bean mixture between the baked squash halves. Place the stuffed squash halves in a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through.
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 3 cups)
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons minced thyme
¼ cup finely chopped basil
¼ cup nutritional yeast, optional
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt to taste
Almond milk, as needed
Steam cauliflower in steamer basket or top of double boiler until the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 minutes. While the cauliflower is steaming, place the onion in a large skillet or saucepan and saute in a small amount of water (about 3 TBSP) over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add more water, 1 TBSP at a time as needed to prevent onions from sticking. Add garlic, thyme, and basil and cook for another minute. Add the nutritional yeast, nutmeg, and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the onion mixture along with cauliflower to blender and blend. Add a tiny amount of almond milk at a time to achieve creamy consistency, if need be, but be careful not to add too much.
Serve each 1/2 of pumpkin to each guest, and top with Bechamel Sauce!