FOOD // A Very Vegan Christmas

Sprout postcard vegan christmas

A belated merry Christmas and a happy (almost) new year, everyone!

I hope you all had a good one and that Santa was his typically kind self. I had a lovely family-filled Christmas, packed full of church carols; Brewdog beers and boardgames; cats under the tree and presents unwrapped around it; brisk winter dog walks; quizzes and collective snoozing; a very hyper two year old and all the magic that can bring; and, of course, sitting down together to enjoy lots of good food.

Christmas collage 2015

I've been a vegetarian for more than a decade now and know that Christmas can be a tricky time to navigate when it comes to food. My family have always been very good at catering for me, but you just have to look at the menus in most restaurants at this time of year to get a sense of the potential disappointment: the same old pasta or risotto we're offered year-round, tagged on to a list of excitingly festive meats. It's frustrating - especially when more appealing options can be so simple, yet so good.

This year, I decided to set myself the goal of putting together an entirely plant-based menu - no animal products in sight!* - in a bid to prove that a meat-free Christmas can be about more than parsnip and Brussels sprouts.

(*As a general rule, I eat a vegetarian diet which includes small amounts of dairy. My brother's family, however, eat a fully vegan diet and I opted to eliminate all animal products so that they could munch freely when they joined us at night.)

Here's how our 'Very Vegan Christmas' panned out...

Tomato basil sunflower seed pate - vegan christmas
Vegan starter - pate hummus oatcakes

To start.. 

...we went for a pâté-and-oatcakes style dish. I made some red lentil, lemon and coriander hummus (according to this recipe from Oh She Glows), as well as a tomato, basil and sunflower seed pâté (following this recipe from My New Roots), and served them up with some shop-bought oatcakes, olives and a little salad garnish. 

The hummus could have done with thickening to better suit this purpose - though it got gobbled up all the same - while the sunflower seed pâté was flavoursome, perfectly spreadable and perhaps my favourite make of the entire meal. So tasty!

(Be careful if you're buying oatcakes as not all brands are vegan-friendly. Nairn's and Duncans of Deeside do a good selection if you're in the U.K.)

Vegan squash cashew nut loaf
Vegan main - roast vegetables sprouts maple carrot and turnip
Vegan main - wild rice pinenut stuffing
Very Vegan Christmas - main course

The main event.. 

...was a roast squash and cashew nut loaf (recipe by the Ethical Chef), with its layer of squash, kale and sage sandwiched between two sheets of cashew and parsnip. This was accompanied by a wild rice, cranberry and pine nut stuffing (recipe sourced from One Green Planet); Christy's port and cranberry sauce; roasted winter vegetables (including parsnip, onion, sweet potato, garlic, carrot and butternut squash); and some maple turnip and carrot mash. Of course, no Christmas meal would be complete without a good serving of sprouts and some delightfully crispy roast potatoes - ours cooked up in coconut oil. 

We did lots of prep and peeling on Christmas Eve and things got a bit touch-and-go trying to finish the nut loaf before we headed out to a carol service!  Dad and Christy came to the rescue and we got everything under control, so the day was nice and simple with everything ready just to pop in the oven.

We served it all up with some vegetable gravy (I was a bit lazy in that department and whisked up some Free and Easy granules) and it made for a hearty, filling and altogether delicious main course! 

Just Desserts

We needed a pretty lengthy break after all of that for our food babies to wriggle about and free up some pudding room, but when it finally did come around, dessert consisted of a dark chocolate pie with an almond crust (according to another Oh She Glows recipe) or a bit of festive-spiced pear and apple crumble. The crumble was a rather improvised affair: layers of pear and Bramley apples drizzled with a little sugar, water and cinnamon, then topped with a mixture made by rubbing together some oats, crushed walnuts, ground almonds, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and vegan butter. I popped some star anise and cloves on top to add some extra flavour (just remember to remove them before serving!) and baked it in the oven until golden.

As if that wasn't enough, it was all accompanied by some dairy-free custard (Alpro soya cartons ftw), or - far more temptingly - by some dairy-free ice-cream home-made by my dad. Not content just to tackle his very first vegan-friendly ice-cream, he decided to double the difficulty and dished us up not one but two different flavours in the form of coconut, almond and chocolate chip and strawberry swirled (based on these recipes from The Kitchn).


The Nibbles

Of course, it wouldn't really be Christmas without some drinks and nibbles on hand to offer to any (unexpected) guests. Catering for your vegan friends is probably a lot easier than you think in this department: I happened upon most of these by accident while browsing other Christmas treats (I promise I'm not on commission from Sainsburys) and a quick consultation with Mr. Google highlights lots of snacks you might not otherwise have considered to be vegan.

I also threw together some gluten-free gingerbread cookies for good measure (working very loosely from this Veggieful recipe)  and though the consistency wasn't quite as I'd have hoped they were pretty decent for a first attempt and I'd definitely make them again.

Besides.. When they're squirrels and bears, what's not to love?!

After all that food I don't think I need to eat again until at least the middle of May, but I'd like to think we can consider that a pretty solid effort when it comes to proving that even us herbivores can do Christmas well!


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  1. That looks amazing! I'm definitely going to be checking out some of those recipes.

    1. Let me know how you get on if you try any of them out! :)