DULUTH — Here I share some of my favorite vegan recipes that are perfect for holiday meals.

Holiday Loaf

The Field Roast brand celebration loaf is delicious, but the loaf you make yourself is even better and less expensive. One year, I sampled my holiday loaf next to my mother’s baked turkey; I preferred my holiday loaf.

1 onion

3 to 5 cloves garlic

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vegetable oil

2 cups vital wheat gluten

½ cup nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon each: sage, poultry seasoning, dried parsley

14-16 oz. extra firm tofu, drained

2 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

sprigs of fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried

A vegan loaf can vary in firmness depending on how much tofu is added. (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
A vegan loaf can vary in firmness depending on how much tofu is added. (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sauté onions and garlic in a pan with a little oil until the onion is soft and translucent. Mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast and seasonings in a large bowl.

In a blender or food processor, mix together until smooth: tofu, one cup of the broth, soy sauce and about half of the onion mixture.

Add ¾ of the tofu mixture ALL AT ONCE to the dry mixture. You will need to use your hands to combine the ingredients. Add remaining ¼ of the tofu mixture if needed, but you probably won’t need it. You want this mixture to be firm enough to shape into a loaf. The more you add, the more moist your loaf will be. I prefer a tougher, turkey-like loaf, so I use less of the tofu mixture.

Shape the mixture into a loaf and place in a 9 x 13 baking dish, leaving at least an inch of space between the loaf and the sides of the dish. To the baking dish, add in the remaining one cup of broth, onion mixture and the rosemary leaves. Add some extra poultry seasoning and some soy sauce, if desired.

Cover the baking dish tightly with foil, place in oven, and bake for 2 to 2½ hours, basting every now and then. Remove the foil the last 10 minutes to let the loaf brown on top.

This loaf will easily serve 8 people. Leftovers are great thinly sliced for sandwiches or cut into chunks and placed onto skewers for kebabs. Leftovers can be placed in foil and frozen for future uses.

Fuss-free Gravy

Double the recipe if 2 cups isn’t enough. I serve this gravy on turkey loaf, mashed potatoes and stuffing.

2 cups water

2 teaspoons vegetable bouillon

2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch softened in ¼ cup (or so) of water

2 tablespoons soy creamer

2 tablespoons vegan margarine (optional)

Boil water with vegetable bouillon. Whisk in softened cornstarch. Return to boil to thicken. Add soy creamer. Serve.

I like to make my gravy in the microwave in a 4-cup glass measuring cup.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Idaho potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks

Earth Balance or other vegan margarine

soy creamer

garlic salt or seasoned salt or salt and pepper

Boil potato chunks until they fall apart when poked with a fork. Drain most of the water off. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add in a knob of vegan margarine and seasonings. Stir in soy creamer until potatoes reach the desired consistency (my husband and I like the potatoes practically running off the plate). Serve hot.

My husband loves mashed potatoes topped with sauerkraut and gravy. He’s weird, isn’t he?

Cooked Cranberry Sauce

I don’t like adding too much sugar to my food, but without sugar, cranberries are too bitter for me. I like the taste of Truvia calorie-free sweetener. Truvia is made from stevia leaf extract and erythritol, a sugar alcohol. If you have experienced side effects from stevia or Truvia, then use about ¾ cup of sugar instead.

1 bag of cranberries, washed and picked through (about 2 cups)

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

¾ cup of water

3 to 4 tablespoons of Truvia calorie-free sweetener

Mix all ingredients in a pot and cook on top of the stove 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; allow to cool for 25 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.

Vegan green bean casserole can be reheated in the microwave before serving and topped with more onions to keep them crunchy. (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
Vegan green bean casserole can be reheated in the microwave before serving and topped with more onions to keep them crunchy. (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)

Green Bean Casserole

The green bean casserole with the canned fried onions on top was invented in the Campbell Test Kitchen in 1955. As far as I’m concerned, no holiday meal is complete without a mountain of the bean casserole on my plate. There are a lot of versions of this casserole, but this is my vegan version.

¼ cup flour

¼ cup vegan margarine

2 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons soy creamer

¼ cup nutritional yeast

3 cans of cut green beans

3-oz. container of fried onions

black pepper to taste

Melt the margarine and stir in the flour. Slowly add in the vegetable broth while continuing to stir until smooth. Add in the soy sauce, soy creamer, yeast and beans. Place beans in a casserole dish, top with the onions, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

I like to skip the step of baking the dish. I just spoon the bean mixture piping hot from the stovetop onto plates, or into individual serving bowls, and top with the onions prior to serving. Any leftover bean casserole gets nuked in the microwave before serving and topped with more onions. This keeps the fried onions crunchy.

Loretta’s Vegan Tofu Pumpkin Pie

My friend Loretta is the best cook I know. She made a tofu-pumpkin pie for us and substituted chai spices for the pumpkin pie spices. Delicious! (If you don’t want a spiced-up pumpkin pie, then use traditional pumpkin pie spices instead of the chai.)

Chai spices are made up of a mix of all, or some, of the following spices: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, fennel (or anise) and vanilla. If you don’t have chai spices handy, it’s easy to whip up a combination of these spices that is pleasing to your palate.

Loretta cooked and pureed a butternut squash from her garden for her pie instead of using canned pumpkin, but canned pumpkin works well. Loretta made a pie crust from scratch, but I am very fond of the frozen, whole-wheat pie crusts found at the Whole Foods Co-op.

One 16-oz can pureed pumpkin

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

One 12-oz package firm silken tofu

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3½ tablespoons chai spice

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

One 9-inch unbaked vegan pie shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix everything together in a food processor or blender and pour into the pie shell. Bake for 55 minutes. Serve chilled.

Vegans, or aspiring vegans, need not deny themselves the decadence of whipped topping on their pumpkin pie. There are numerous dairy-free products available, but I’m partial to the So Delicious Coco Whip variety found in the freezer section of many stores.

Susan Alexander
Susan Alexander

Susan Alexander loves gardening, farmers' markets and creating delicious meals consisting of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits.