What I Made For My First Vegan Thanksgiving

Let me tell you something about going vegan, the jokes never end. People also think you sign a contract to eat tofu versions of everything for the rest of your life, let me debunk that  right here, right now lol. I didn’t eat tofurkey and there weren’t any sad vegan tears. In fact, it was one of the best Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever had! Now let’s get to the good stuff! 

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This was also a Thanksgiving with my in-laws (who aren’t vegan) so as you can imagine it was a little tricky. Luckily a lot of the staple Thanksgiving dishes are already plant based or you can easily sub oil for butter or use a vegan butter instead. Three of the dishes that were made at my in-laws (sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and rolls) I was able to have as is! The rest I prepped and brought on a 13 hour drive from Maryland to Indiana and somehow nothing spilled – okay that’s a lie, I’d tossed in some olive oil spray and it exploded in a bag, I know, it’s not like there wouldn’t be any there, but trust me, I was mad prepared for anything. 

Here’s what ended up on my glorious plate:

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How this all came together is another story for another post but today I wanted to share with you all of the recipes I used, where I found them, and how I prepped them for the long drive because really, anyone could do this!

Cauliflower Cheese Sauce Pasta

This is one of my favorite dishes, period. My husband and I have had this about once a week since Fall started. It’s comfort food at it’s best and it’s so easy, creamy, comforting, and delicious. You can grab the recipe for the sauce here. I made the sauce two days before Thanksgiving and put it into a tub in the fridge. I then made the rotini pasta the day of, placed it all into a greased 13X9 glass pyrex dish, covering all of the pasta, and baked in the oven to warm at 350 for about 25 minutes. I also topped it with bread crumbs before baking it in the oven – adding in GoVeggie Parm is also amazing. 

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Green Bean Casserole

I couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving without a green bean casserole. It’s one of my favorite things and when I realized my go-to recipe called for Cream of Mushroom Soup (filled with cow’s milk) I got moody, but then I realized anything can be veganized! Thanks to the awesome green bean casserole recipe from Minimalist Baker my fears disappeared and it turned out fantastic! Here’s a picture of the homemade cream of mushroom soup! I wish I had a picture of the actual casserole but I gobbled it up too fast! I made the mushroom soup ahead of time, the morning of the day we traveled. I then brought pre-cut and washed green beans found in the produce section in bags and cooked them day of in vegetable broth for extra flavor. You then simple mix the soup in with the green beans, top with french fried onions, and this baked right along with the pasta at 350 for about 25 minutes. 

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Usually my family has always bought the canned cranberry sauce but this year I wanted to try making my own from fresh cranberries and boy was it worth it. I still have some left over and its fantastic on top of corn bread, muffins, etc. This is the recipe I used. I subbed in fresh tangerine juice for orange because it’s what I had and it turned out amazing, tangy, flavorful, and perfectly sweet. This was easily made ahead of time. 

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Homemade Mashed Potatoes with Vegan Sour Cream

There’s something people always say, don’t try a new recipe for a big holiday event. Oops. Pretty much everything I made for this was my first time and luckily I’m a better cook than I thought because my husband and I were not disappointed. This was probably the most fun thing to make because I had absolutely no confidence in this random sour cream idea I got so when it turned out just like the real deal I was thrilled. I knew I would be making red potatoes in the crock pot in on Thanksgiving but I didn’t just want to mix them with almond milk. In the past, sour cream or even cream cheese make great additions to mashed potatoes. They give it that extra creamy flavor and texture and I was determined to have mine be just as good. 

You can find the easy vegan sour cream recipe here from Healthy Blender Recipes – using just a block of tofu, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and a bit of sweetener you’ll be crazy surprised at how awesome this stuff is. A tip for the impatient: Be patient with this in the blender, it takes a little bit longer to get super creamy. When it wasn’t instantly perfect, I was tempted to pour in more oil and even almond milk but I’m glad I didn’t. Trust the process, the texture of this recipe as is will be perfect. 

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For the potatoes, I just quartered about 2lbs of red potatoes and put them in the crock pot on high for 4 hours with 1/4 cup of veggie broth, 1/4 cup earth balance butter, 2 tsp pink himalayan salt, 2 tsp minced garlic (from a jar) or garlic powder, and pinch of black pepper. Then when it’s time to make the mashed potatoes, simply add in all of the sour cream and pour in almond milk as needed. You can add salt to taste. Pro tip: After you eat them, add in a bit more almond milk and stir before refrigerating. I noticed that the potatoes soaked up more moisture after cooling and they weren’t as moist when I dug into the leftovers. You could also just add almond milk as you reheat them for the same consistency. 

Brown Gravy & Mushroom Gravy

Why did I bring TWO gravy’s?! Because my husband isn’t a fan of mushrooms and I know how much he loves brown gravy. There isn’t a recipe for the Mushroom Gravy because I picked it up from Whole Foods (muhahahaha), which if you didn’t know already, has amazing ready made vegan options for the holidays that you can easily grab when you’re there or order ahead of time. 

The brown gravy was so much fun to make and super delicious. I think I’ll be making it again soon for biscuits and gravy because comfort food. You can find the super Easy Fat Free Vegan Gravy Recipe from Brand New Vegan’s awesome site. I made this ahead of time as well and packed it into the cooler – that was already getting full to the brim.

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Candied Yams with Vegan Marshmallows

I was going to make my own candied yams but luckily my husbands step mom made some of her sweet potatoes without marshmallows. A lot of people wonder why marshmallows aren’t vegan and it’s because they contain gelatin. I don’t want to ruin your appetite here but you can read more about what gelatin is in this post. Luckily though, they make vegan marshmallows so candied yams and future s’more nights around the campfire can still be like the good ol’ days. I picked up these Dandies at Whole Foods. They are a bit pricier and it’s because they are made with agar agar instead of gelatin to give them that gooey texture. 

dandies

For easy candied yams I just buy a 40oz can of Bruce’s yams. Drain out most of the syrup and pour contents into a greased baking dish, bigger size ramekins work best. Then top with 1/4 cup vegan butter cut into even slices & 1/2 cup brown sugar. Then top with dandies and bake at 400 for about 25 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown. 

Rolls, Butter, & Desserts!

I probably won’t make homemade rolls next year but there are some vegan rolls in most grocery stores you can easily bake day of. Most of Arnold’s brand rolls and buns are vegan. Just make sure the ingredients are wheat and soy instead of milk, butter, eggs, etc. Earth Balance makes spreadable tubs of butter (as pictured on the rolls I had) and they also sell Buttery Vegan Sticks that are great for baking.

As far as dessert when on Thanksgiving, I wasn’t about to go without Pumpkin Pie. I found a vegan one at Whole Foods and got the SoDelicious Coconut Whip – which is phenomenal by the way. I also picked up some Almond Nog. Silk also makes a great vegan nog, I’ve tried 3 kinds so far and haven’t been disappointed with any of them. The pie was outstanding and as I’m writing this I’m upset I can’t eat another one right now. 

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How I Traveled with Everything

We had a 13 hour drive (with traffic and bathroom breaks) so I was anxious about how everything would travel and was hoping nothing would leak, spill, or get filled with ice. I got lucky and everything was a success! Everything was stored in plastic tupperware containers with airtight lids. Anything that could soak up water was put in a zip lock bag. I brought a carton of cashew milk and it was find covered in ice. I bought a 20lb bag of ice and it worked great to fill my Igloo 60oz cooler. We just set it in the back seat. 

Thanks for reading & Links to All Recipes in this Post

I hope this post was helpful for those of you interested in vegan meals, foods, and recipes. If you’d like to stay up to date on all of my future posts, pop on over to subscribe to the Newsletter and get quarterly emails (FitCupcake never spams or shares your email address or information). 

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! Here’s a list of all of the links in ONE spot so you can grab them and go 😉

Creamy Cauliflower Cheeze Sauce Pasta

Green Bean Casserole

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Vegan Sour Cream 

Easy Fat Free Vegan Gravy

Thanks for reading!