I’m happy to report that my first homemade vegan Thanksgiving was a success! Generally, everything went well in the kitchen and the food was tasty (check out my previous post for links to all of the recipes I used).
So, how did we like each recipe? On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “spit out first bite and threw the rest in the trash” and 5 being “loved it and will definitely make again,” here are the scores:
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Pecans: 5
This was the most difficult of the day’s seven recipes and definitely gave me the most anxiety leading into Thanksgiving Day. I’ve never worked with yeast before and I was concerned that my dough may not rise properly. However, I didn’t have any issues with the yeast or any other aspects of the recipe. The whole process took about 2:30, including letting the dough rise, assembly, baking, and cooling, but for special occasions, I definitely think the effort was worth it and I will make these again.
After rolling out the dough, you add the yummy filling ingredients, including pumpkin butter, cinnamon, sugar, and chopped pecans.
The final product, including icing and more chopped pecans!
Pumpkin Chia Pudding Parfait with Ginger Snaps: 4.5
This pudding was super easy to make. It’s healthy (canned pumpkin, chia seeds, and spices are sweetened with just a bit of maple syrup) and delicious, and even won rave reviews from my meat and potatoes loving husband! I definitely plan to make this again. The only reason this didn’t get a 5 was because the cinnamon rolls were just too delicious for anything else to get the same score.
I was definitely glad I made the pudding the day before because it was one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving Day.
I assembled the parfaits on Thanksgiving Day so the (store-bought) ginger snaps would retain their snappiness.
Mashed Potatoes: 4
This was my husband’s favorite dish of the day. Although the potatoes looked a little dry (there is no milk in the recipe), they didn’t taste dry at all. This recipe is a keeper for sure. The best part was that I didn’t have to peel the potatoes.
Roasted Carrots with Fresh Parsley: 4
This was the most simple recipe of the day, but it was really delicious. I don’t make carrots very often, but I will now that I have this recipe.
Meatless Loaf: 3.5
One of the main reasons this recipe appealed to me was because the author was clear that this loaf wasn’t trying to be meat. Personally, I don’t care for the taste of fake meats (yes, I’ve tried a bunch of brands), but I did want something that was a real, satisfying main course. I may be a vegan, but a salad won’t ever be enough to really fill me up, especially on a holiday.
This recipe really delivered what I was looking for. It was filling and hearty (and healthy!), with ingredients like tofu, beans, walnuts, and chopped vegetables. Although the recipe called for a lot of ingredients, it was not hard to make. Basically, everything goes in the food processor and you’re done.
The recipe makes quite a large loaf, so I’m thinking about trying to freeze some for future use. I will be honest that it isn’t the most attractive dish, so I added the carrots to the platter for some color.
The baked meatless loaf with roasted carrots.
Whole Wheat Stuffing with Green Lentils: 3
I loved the addition of the lentils in this stuffing recipe because it made the stuffing more substantial than any other stuffing I have tried. That being said, this is only getting a three for two reasons. First, I wish I had added some additional vegetables, as my ratio of bread to vegetables seemed a bit off. Second, I wish I had used a different bread. I bought an organic whole wheat sourdough and, unfortunately, the sourdough flavor was a bit too overpowering. I will definitely try this recipe again because I think it has the potential to be a standout.
Mushroom Gravy: 3
I will start by saying I’m not a huge mushroom person (I picked the recipe because my husband is), so I wasn’t expecting to love this. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it, but I definitely didn’t love it. My husband liked it, but thought it was a bit heavy on the mushrooms.
Things I would do differently
- To the extent possible, I would grocery shop the week before the holiday, not the week of the holiday. Only a handful items really wouldn’t have been fresh if I bought them last Friday (e.g., the fresh baked bread) and I could have made one last minute trip for those few items.
- I would either make my own pumpkin butter for the cinnamon rolls or purchase a few flavors to sample beforehand. I had a hard time finding already prepared pumpkin butter in the store and I did not love the flavor of the brand I ended up using.
- I would use a different flavor whole wheat bread for the stuffing and might experiment with adding more celery and perhaps squash, mushrooms, and/or another vegetable to make the dish a bit less bread-heavy.
- I would add a bit of sugar to the pudding (note: I like things sweeter than most and my husband said he liked it as is).
- I would add some kind of green salad to the menu.
All in all, this Thanksgiving was a success! It was definitely a lot of work. Plus, we think it cost more to purchase all of the ingredients for this meal than we have spent in the past ordering our meal from Whole Foods. There are definitely pros and cons to each approach and I guess I’ll have to weigh those between now and Christmas. I think I’ll probably be doing dishes until then…