It can be a challenge to eat healthy during the holidays. Many meals are high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. One way to eat healthier is by adding more plant-based options to your diet. Eating more plant-based foods — such as whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables — can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers.
Besides being good for your overall health, plant-based meals can be flavorful and delicious. Here are vegetarian and vegan recipes to inspire you this holiday season.
Vibrant sides and salads
Side dishes are often the stars of holiday meals. From perfectly roasted vegetables to creamy comfort food, each of these recipes will be a good addition to your menu.
When you roast veggies, they get crispy and become sweeter. Brussels sprouts are also a high-fiber food — which is good news for your heart health.
This is a simple salad that packs a flavorful punch. You can also make it ahead of time, so the dressing has time to absorb into the kale. This will make for a more tender — and delicious — salad. Get creative by adding your favorite ingredients, like roasted sweet potatoes or walnuts for an added crunch.
This is a creative twist on a classic comfort food. Cashew cream is a tasty replacement for traditional dairy-based cream. It helps make these grits extra creamy, while keeping it vegan-friendly.
Satisfying main courses
For many people, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without turkey. You don’t have to say goodbye to turkey or your other favorite meat dishes. But there are many plant-based dishes that can serve as a filling and delicious main course.
Spices like cumin give this dish warmth, and chili pepper give it a spicy kick. Plus, using tofu makes for a healthier version of this dish. Tofu is low in saturated fat and is a good source of protein. It’s a great meat substitute, too. Plus, tofu absorbs spices well — and that leads to more flavorful food.
You can also try a tofu turkey — or tofurky. Make your version of a tofu turkey with common Thanksgiving herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, and orange zest to get the just-like-turkey flavor. It can make a great centerpiece to your holiday table.
Risotto is a hearty Italian rice dish. You stir stock into the rice to make it creamy. To make this a vegan or vegetarian option, make sure to vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Adding farro gives this risotto a nutty flavor — while adding heart-healthy fiber.
Delicious and healthy desserts
You can enjoy holiday desserts while still being mindful of eating too much sugar. Here are festive desserts to try.
Pumpkin spice is a classic flavor for fall and Thanksgiving. And when you combine it with cloves, nutmeg, and ground ginger, you have the perfect fall dessert. You can make this mousse vegan by using silken tofu instead of cottage cheese. Using frozen bananas also adds a healthy dose of sweetness.
Avocado may seem like a strange choice for pie. But it adds creaminess and blends in well with other flavors, like the unsweetened cocoa powder used in this recipe. And avocado is a source of healthy fats and vitamins. Besides being a healthy take on dessert, this recipe is also easy to make.
In addition to avocado, there are other ingredients you can use when making a vegan version of a dessert. You can use soy or other non-dairy milks, like almond or coconut. Instead of butter and eggs, try bananas or chia seeds — like in this oatmeal cookie recipe. Apple sauce and pumpkin puree can also make healthy replacements.
This dish is a healthy take on apple pie. It’s also simple and flavorful, with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Looking for a creative twist? Use tahini instead of maple syrup. Tahini is a butter-like paste made from ground sesame seeds. It’s often used in Middle Eastern cooking. Substituting tahini will keep the sugar level down, plus its nutty flavor goes well with the hazelnuts and pistachios in this recipe.
Whether you want more vegetarian options or new twists on Thanksgiving classics, we have many healthy and delicious ideas on our Recipes site.
Community resources to support your total health
Access to healthy food is important to supporting your well-being. If you’re having difficulty affording healthy food, visit our Community Support Hub to learn about community resources available in your area.