Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vegan on the Cheap: Meal Ideas for the Holidays

Enjoy this guest post by vegan blogger Melissa Corenne. A 25-year old vegan with a passion for cooking, Melissa has been blogging for three years. You can find her articles about food at the Blog Content Guild.

Vegan on the Cheap: Meal Ideas for the Holidays

Most vegans will tell you that holiday meals can be tough. Holidays usually mean time with family, but there’s always the possibility that some people won’t understand your vegan lifestyle and diet. The easy solution for those situations is to bring along your own delicious alternatives. But what about the times when you’re looking for cheap meals with a holiday theme for yourself? Read on for some tips about how to make vegan meals fit for royalty on a pauper’s budget. 

Freshen Up Your Spread

Vegan food can be expensive. Most of the time, however, the cost goes up when there’s an analogue involved. You know what we’re talking about: The dishes that look like “regular” food but are made with vegan friendly substitutes like soy or some other plant-based material. There’s nothing wrong with these foods, and many of them are absolutely delicious. 

Unfortunately, they can be more expensive than other options because of the extra work that goes into creating them and making them look like something else. You can avoid paying more for your vegan diet if you stick to fresh foods, which are cheap to begin with. If you buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, you’ll save even more money. Keep fresh food in mind and your wallet will thank you.


Be Adventurous!

If the most important aspect of holidays is family, then second is probably tradition. It seems like everyone cooks the same thing, year after year, because it’s welcoming and comforting. You remember all the great times and associate them with the food, so of course you want to eat the same thing every year! This year, you can start a new tradition of branching out instead of sticking to the old standbys. This holiday, why not replace turkey with Indian food? There are tons of vegan dishes to choose from, and you can bet it will be a meal to remember. If you’re not ready for that yet, at least choose a different centerpiece dish for your holiday meals. For inspiration, see the recipe below.

Pumpkin Centerpiece

Ingredients:
- 1 pumpkin, around 10 pounds
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt (divided)
- 1/2 cup buckwheat
- 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
- 4 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 slices of your favorite bread
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bell pepper (red or orange), chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup hazelnut meal
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- Ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and insides. Set the pumpkin in a large baking pan. Mix water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the buckwheat, turn heat to low and cook the buckwheat, covered, for 15 minutes. Transfer the buckwheat to another container. Put the celery, mushrooms, onions, and olive oil in a skillet and cook over high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the mixture to the buckwheat. Mix in the garlic, toasted bread, hazelnuts, carrot, bell pepper, raisins, hazelnut meal, cranberries, sage, pomegranate syrup, pepper, and the remaining salt. Put the mixture in the pumpkin and stick the lid back on top. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, or until the sides of the pumpkin are soft to the touch.


Happy Holidays!


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