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My wife and I make it a point to travel as much as possible. The world is so big, we want to experience as much of it as possible. Whenever we travel, there’s always one goal in mind. EAT.
We have tried some of the best vegan food you can find. Sage Organic Cafe in Los Angeles, Spiral Diner in Texas, Chicago Diner in Chicago, and so many others. None of these places disappointed. Every time we start to look for a place to vacation, scoping out the vegan scene and seeing what they offer for vegan cuisine is always one of the first things we do. That brings us to our most recent vacation: our second-year anniversary trip to Las Vegas!
While anytime is an amazing time to go vegan, using the motivation from a New Year can provide a great incentive to start. Many decide to try plant-based eating for the month, a movement called Veganuary.
We’re here to help. Share this on social with friends and read on for a few ways to make this month a plant-powered success.
Couldn’t get enough of Book Club’s Green Thai Curry Rice Bowl during the Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge? You’re in luck! Book Club’s Chef Asher Miller adapted his winning dish for all who want to create this warming curry and enjoy it at home.
Let us know if you try your hand at making this dish! We’d love to know what you think.
Book Club’s Green Thai Curry Rice Bowl
Serves 4 people
Vegan Green Curry Sauce:
¼ cup Ginger, peeled and chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed and chopped
¼ cup galangal root, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs peanut oil
1 tsp cumin, ground and toasted
¼ cup kaffir lime leaves, smashed
½ cup Thai basil, stalks and leaves
6 cups coconut milk
¼ cup vegan green curry paste
½ cup lime juice
2 Tbs sugar
1. Heat a saucepan and sweat ginger, lemongrass, and galangal in peanut oil until aromatic.
2. Add cumin, Thai basil, lime leaf, lime juice, coconut milk, and curry paste to the saucepan.
3. Bring everything to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add in the sugar and stir to dissolve.
5. Remove from heat, steep for 20 minutes, and strain into a container or use immediately.
For the Dish:
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbs peanut oil
1 block hard tofu, pressed to remove water, and diced into ½ inch cubes.
2 heads baby bok choy, bottom sliced off and leaves flaked out. Cut on a bias if they are quite large.
1 small carrot, peeled, cut on the bias into ¼ inch thick slices
1 cup fingerling potatoes, boiled, cooled, sliced ¼ inch slices
Crushed roasted peanuts, cilantro leaves and Thai basil leaves for garnish
1. Sautee the shallot and garlic in the peanut oil over medium-high heat until they begin to sizzle and take on color.
2. Add the bok choy, carrot, fingerling potato and curry sauce. Simmer to heat through.
3. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Then add the tofu and heat until everything is heated through. Do not reduce.
4. Serve with rice if you wish and garnish with crushed peanuts, cilantro, and Thai basil leaves.
Happy New Year and welcome back! This month’s recipes dive into Nava Atlas’ Vegan Holiday Kitchen cookbook, inviting you to create a hearty Shepherd’s Pie, Couscous dish, Peanut Soup and more if you choose!
This cookbook is full of warming stews, seasonal roasts, and desserts that will bring all of the classic flavors of the holidays. Will you answer the call and get creative in the kitchen?
You can download this month’s recipes here.
Vegan Holiday Kitchen, by Nava Atlas, 2011 — TX837. A8473 2011
- Spiced Vegetable Peanut Soup, page 5
- Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Sheperd’s Pie, page 98 – 99
- Seven Vegetable Couscous, page 142 – 143
- Sweet Potato Biscuits, page 10
- Classic Vegan Pumpkin Pie, page 51
Our work together in 2019 helped spare the lives of an estimated 252,000 animals!
Whether you volunteered on a planning committee, outreach event, or attended a potluck, we want to extend a HUGE thank you for all you’ve contributed to the movement in 2019.
Scroll down to see a video slideshow with highlights from 2019. We hope you’ll join us at one or more of these events in 2020.
The Vegan Chili Cook-Off brought Twin Cities restaurants and community chefs to compete. Hundreds of community members came to rate the samples and learn how tasty vegan food can be as well as the power a plant-based diet has to help end animal suffering.
Video outreach, leafleting, and sanctuary tours helped over 6,500 people understand the realities of animal agriculture, the individual personalities of farmed animals, and take meaningful steps toward a plant-based diet.
Together in 2019, we:
- Brought new vegan dishes to restaurants, schools, and home kitchens across the Twin Cities metro,
- Gave our community ways to invite their friends to explore plant-based diets, and
- Provided recipes and community to support people’s diet change through numerous programs.
All of this work was done through CAA programs including the Explore Veg Mentor Program, Bridges of Respect, Twin Cities Veg Week, Food Giveaways, The Wholesome Minnesota cafeteria change program, the Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge, Cooking Demos (thanks Coco and Lala, Hark Cafe, and Dustin Harder!), and the Vegan Recipe Club.
Last, but not least, we combined all of this into a huge one-day festival, Twin Cities Veg Fest, which drew 10,000 people to learn about and celebrate the benefits of plant-based living.
Our programs are supported by a staff of two, hundreds of volunteers, and hundreds of donors like you. We so appreciate all you do for farmed animals! Thank you for joining us in 2019!
Save the date for next year’s cook-off on February 8, 2020, in the Coffman Memorial Union Great Hall.
Thanks to all who attended our 17th Annual Vegan Thanksgiving at Coffman Memorial Union!
Each year, our annual Vegan ThanksLiving Potluck gives us a chance to come together as a community and celebrate plant-based, holiday food. For some of us, this is our one opportunity during the holidays for an entirely plant-based celebration and for others, this is one of many. We are grateful for this yearly opportunity to celebrate with our plant-based family––YOU!
Thank you to The Herbivorous Butcher for donating their delicious vegan stuffed turkeys and Innate Foods for donating their savory scones for the event! We’d also like to thank the University of Minnesota and all of our donors for their support with this event.
It took over 20 volunteers to make the event run smoothly––many thanks to those who helped out! Special thanks to Rae Hermeier and Haley Hastings, who planned the potluck with staff.
Between September 20 and October 20, sixteen Twin Cities restaurants created vegan appetizers and main dish specials for the first Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge. You tried them and voted, and now the results are in!
Second Place Tie: Parkway Pizza with The V-Card Pizza
Second Place Tie: Barley John’s Brew Pub, who created their Vegan Laura Pizza, Tofu Wrap, Thai Basil Cream Pasta, and Lettuce Wraps
Second Place Tie: Hard Times Cafe with their Vegan Nacho Cheese Quesadilla
The Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge Champion is Book Club!
We want to extend a final huge thanks to all participating restaurants this year—Barbette Restaurant, Book Club, Pat’s Tap, Red Stag Supperclub, Tiny Diner, Al’s Place, Pub 819, The Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar, Twin Cities 400 Tavern, Barley John’s Brew Pub, BRIM, Tongue in Cheek, Fig + Farro, Black Dog Cafe, Hard Times Cafe, and Parkway Pizza. We were blown away by the variety of dishes and flavors created for this challenge and hope you were too.
Book Club, Pat’s Tap, and Twin Cities 400 Tavern are keeping their specials, and the Twin Cities 400 Tavern shared that their vegan dishes created for the challenge have become bestsellers!
Comments we received in response to the challenge included:
- “I love this vegan chef challenge and appreciate all who participate!”
- “The Vegan Chef Challenge dish was the only vegan item on the menu. We live in the neighborhood but always have to drive to a vegan destination. We’d frequent this restaurant if they added a few vegan options.”
- “It’s the best thing I ever had there. Very satisfying and balanced and colorful and just great.”
- “Might have been the best thing I’ve eaten all year. Amazing.”
- “By far the best vegan food I have ever put in my mouth!”
Times are changing. The interest and demand for plant-based foods are growing as people are seeking to reduce their meat intake or completely stop consuming animal products for ethical, environmental, and health reasons.
Many thanks to Vegan Outreach for their support and to the CAA staff and volunteer team who made this year’s Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge possible: Dustin Cahill, Jodi Miller Gruhn, Phil Martens, Laura Matanah, Emily Nyberg, and Lucia Skinner DeGregorio .
Happy November! For many, it’s the month to kick off a season filled with friends, family, and the coziest dishes our Earth has ever produced. But for many veg folks, it can also be a time of unpredictable social situations, especially when attending a predominantly omnivore celebration. But fear not! All of the vegan holidays I’ve spent have been stuffed full with a classic green bean casserole, the creamiest dreamiest sweet potatoes, a pillowy pumpkin pie, and long post-nourished food-naps.
The best part: these dishes are incredibly fun and easy to make with one another! Whether you send them out to friends and family or whirl them up in your own kitchens, these recipes and swaps are the perfect opportunities to bond with your loved ones through scrumptious plant-based cooking. I’ve found that when others are provided with swaps and recipes, they’re usually very accommodating and excited to try something new!
Plant-based sides and main dishes to wow everyone
The first question on your mind might be how to swap the centerpiece that’s usually comprised of meat. My family has always loved the side dishes more than the main course, so our go-to is to pile the dinner table with lots of smaller dishes. This means more food! Our table is never complete without sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits, freshly cooked cranberries, green bean casserole, and, of course, the desserts!
If you’re looking to wow the whole family with an impressive main course, I might suggest making your own vegan “turkey” roll with tofu or a homey sweet potato shepherd’s pie! Some classic swaps for the main dish are hearty squash and potato dishes (e.g. shepherd’s pies and stuffed squashes), meat substitutes (e.g. Tofurky or other tempeh/tofu/seitan-based roasts), and heart-and-soul warming soups.
Here are some other festive mains that give me heart eyes just thinking about them:
- Thyme + White Bean Pot Pies
- Vegan Lentil + Walnut Loaf
- Sweet Potato Lasagna w/ Vegan Ricotta + Pesto
- The Prettiest, Tastiest Stuffed Butternut Squash You’ll Ever See
- A Dressed-Up Tofurky
- Gorgeous Holiday Tofu Roast (an intensive recipe, but a very impressive result!)
- Simpler Holiday Glazed Tofu
- Creamy Mushroom + Wild Rice Soup
- Crockpot Lentil Detox Soup (a classic in my family, I ask for it every time I go home!)
- Winter Moroccan Sweet Potato + Lentil Soup (I’d suggest adding some maple syrup for some warming sweetness, too.)
- My FAVORITE Chili Recipe! (seriously, we make this dish nearly every time our friends visit.)
As I said, my family LOVES the holiday sides, so let’s get right into them! And they form the perfect color palette on your plate. The recipes that we use yearly are:
- Healthy + Creamy Green Bean Casserole (we also like to add this crispy onion topping)
- Rosemary + Wild Rice Stuffed Mushrooms
- Roasted Spiced Carrots (+ add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup)
- Sweet Potato Casserole (or, if you’re feeling ambitious, try out this meringue-topped casserole!)
- Herbed Gluten-Free Biscuits & Gravy (my all-time favorite holiday dish!)
- Classic Maple Cranberry Sauce
- Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Here are a couple of other fantastic additions to any holiday dinner table:
- A Super Simple Superb Cornbread
- Cozy + Light Potato Lentil Salad
- Harvest Quinoa Salad
- Beautiful Pumpkin + Beet Salad
- The Perfect Rosemary Bread Loaf (remember to start at least 24 hours in advance to let the dough proof!)
- Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus (and add some homemade flatbread if you’re really feeling inspired!)
- Rosemary + Garlic Roasted Potatoes
- Fluffy + Buttery Dinner Rolls
- Hearty Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese
- Apples + Cranberries Stuffing (make sure to sub vegan butter!)
Let’s talk desserts! My mom comes from a long line of bakers and has almost never let a week escape without magically producing a dessert on the table, so this point of the meal has always been the most special for us.
Some of the favorites that we try to make throughout the holiday season are:
- Crowd-Favorite Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
- Homey Pecan Pie
- Pumpkin Pie (if you’re like me and LOVE all things spice, definitely try adding your unique blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves to control which flavors pop.)
- Cozy Apple Pie (make sure to swap for vegan butter! If you prefer to make your own pie crusts, this is a great option.)
- One tip I have for pie crusts is to spice them! Cinnamon and nutmeg will do the trick, but adding ginger, allspice, and cloves, too, can yield lovely results.
- Perfect Pumpkin Bars (before beginning, prepare three flax eggs to replace the eggs in the recipe. Also, sub plant-based butter and cream cheese in the frosting.)
- Pumpkin Cake Roll
- Cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries
- English Butter Toffee (maple syrup can work in place of corn syrup!)
- GF Ginger Molasses Cookies
- Dreamy Pillowy Snickerdoodles
- Pumpkin Spice Cookies
- Apple Pie Cookies
- Spritz Cookies (the recipe suggests filling these with a chocolate ganache, here’s a great one. Sprinkle in some espresso powder to liven it up!)
- Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints (sub with vegan butter or coconut oil!)
- Gingerbread Cookies (here’s a fantastic recipe for aquafaba royal icing.)
- Meringue Holiday Cookies
- Eggnog Pudding
- Salted Caramel Pudding
- Best Ever Vegan Cinnamon Rolls (I highly recommend also adding in a cup of pumpkin puree and a couple teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice into the batter! Also, try using the pumpkin pie spiced cream cheese frosting from the pumpkin bars above thinned with plant-based milk in place of the classic icing. A truly mouthwatering masterpiece will follow that will have friends and family begging for the recipe!)
- My Favorite Vegan Hot Chocolate (if you’re brave, add in this Mexican Chocolate Spice Mix!)
- Homemade Vegan Eggnog
Swap one ingredient to veganize your holiday favorites
Do you already have some favorite family-cherished holiday recipes that aren’t plant-based? No problem! Luckily, many dishes can be made just as delicious with a few simple swaps. For pies, coconut oil/vegetable shortening are great replacements for dairy butter. For baked goods, 1 tablespoon of flax meal sat with 3 tablespoons of water for five minutes makes a great egg-replacer (and so does a ¼ cup of applesauce for cakier items). For egg whites, aquafaba makes an amazing binder that can also be whipped up for meringues and marshmallows!
Plant-based milk, butter, cream cheese, whipped cream, and other plant-based dairy staples make 1-to-1 substitutions super simple (brands like Silk, Daiya, Earth Balance, Miyoko’s, Pacific, Califia, Follow Your Heart, and So Delicious are some of the most popular brands in grocery stores). If you need the perfect cream cheese frosting for your pumpkin bars but can’t seem to find any vegan cream cheeses in stores, this cashew frosting will do the trick. Whipped cream can also be made easily with coconut cream (try out this recipe!).
In savory dishes, don’t be shy around spice! Dishes can be easily elevated with generous spices and sauces, so no one will be left craving more. Rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice will be your best friends! If you’re looking to transform your tofu/tempeh/meat substitute into something the whole family will find familiar, trying out liquid smoke is a great idea. It’s made from condensing the smoke from wood to provide a richer, meatier taste. Use it sparingly!
Sharing a message of compassion at the table
Equally important as knowing how to swap recipes for the holidays is having the confidence to say why we’re doing so. Especially during holidays like Thanksgiving, these family gatherings can be wonderful times to answer questions about why there’s no meat on our plates or cow’s milk-based butter on our potatoes. Starting these conversations can be tricky, so letting questions come naturally and approaching everyone with empathy can make these situations more comfortable and enjoyable for you. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by plenty of proof that plant-based cooking is undeniably delicious!
One idea to invite friends and family into the plant-based movement is to encourage them to take the 30 Day Vegan Pledge or sign up for the free Explore Veg Mentor Program to receive support from a vegan mentor! Also encouraging them to take small steps toward a vegan lifestyle (ex. exclude meat from dinners or prepare plant-based breakfasts) while letting them know you’re here to support them through recipes, education, and accountability can be a fun way to grow your relationships.
Finally, spark the idea of ThanksLiving! Laura Matanah wonderfully described this holiday as “a way to refocus our celebration on the lived experiences, and resistance to oppression, of both human and non-human animals. Our goal is to retain many of the positive elements of the traditional holiday while expanding its meaningfulness with greater knowledge and action.” ThanksLiving consciously acknowledges the brutal mistreatment of both marginalized indigenous communities and seeks to celebrate the traditions of the holiday that are life-giving. Read more about ThanksLiving here!
Most of all, remember to enjoy your time spent surrounded by friends and family this holiday season. Soak up the craziness of the kitchen and embrace the process of making new holiday traditions, even if that’s unsuccessfully stuffing your first butternut squash. You’ve got this and happy holidays, friends!
Stefanie Amundsen is a member of the Compassionate Action for Animals chapter at the University of Minnesota.
Going home for the holidays often involves finding a balance between celebrating with family, answering questions from relatives about veganism, and finding a seasonal vegan-friendly dish to eat with everyone. Read on for some of Ava’s tips to effectively share a message of compassion for animals at any holiday celebration while keeping your own wellbeing in mind.