These plant-based holiday recipes are perfect for your healthy Thanksgiving menu and Christmas dinner! From dairy-free garlic mashed potatoes to a healthier version of traditional cranberry sauce, these recipes are filled with whole plant foods and packed with tons of flavor. Give them a try this year!
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I don’t know about you, but I love big family dinners, especially around the holidays.
Seeing the assorted spread of gorgeous food on the table, getting a whiff of the apple cider that’s been simmering away on the stove all day, and hearing my family’s boisterous laughter as my dad delivers one of his snappy one-liners makes me extremely grateful that I get to celebrate another year with the crazy people I call my family.
Yep, this time of year was made for celebrating all the wonderful blessings we have with the people we love most.
But if I had to name one thing that I don’t particularly love about holiday dinners, it’s that all of the delicious food we tend to eat is usually very unhealthy. From meat-heavy main dishes and casseroles loaded with butter to highly processed breads and sugar bomb desserts, the typical holiday menu is quite the unhealthy feast.
True, indulging a few times per year isn’t the worst thing ever. But I also know from personal experience that my body is not happy when I stuff myself full of processed, animal-product-laden foods.
In the time since I transitioned to a mostly plant-based lifestyle a few years ago, my body has become accustomed to an abundance of plant foods in their whole or minimally processed forms. And when I feed my body a plate full of food that’s about as far from whole plants as you can get, my body responds with breakouts, bloating, and sometimes even gastrointestinal issues, depending on the extent of my poor eating.
Of course, completely restricting ourselves to whole plant foods 100% of the time just isn’t realistic for most people (myself included), especially around the holidays. However, we can definitely enjoy some of those typical holiday indulgences alongside a generous helping of delicious plants!
If you’d like to include some healthy, plant-based holiday recipes in your Thanksgiving and Christmas menus too, then you’re in the right place. I’m going to share with you nine of my absolute favorite plant-based holiday recipes because I know you’ll love them just as much as I do!
So let’s get to it!
9 Delicious and Healthy Plant-Based Holiday Recipes
These recipes are sure to be a hit, even if the rest of your family typically consumes the standard American diet. Trust me, they won’t even know that these recipes are actually healthy because they’re so delicious and packed full of flavor!
1. Herbed Red Potato Salad
This herbed red potato salad recipe from Cookie + Kate is a staple in my house all year long, but it makes an exceptional side dish for holiday dinners.
2. Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
Maple balsamic Brussels sprouts is one of Josh’s favorite side dishes. His eyes always light up when he sees them listed in our weekly meal plan. I haven’t made them for my extended family yet, but I just might have to bring them to one of our holiday dinners this year.
3. Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Simple, creamy, and quick to make, my garlic mashed potatoes could give traditional, dairy-filled mashed potatoes a run for its money!
- 2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into one-inch cubes (I leave the skins on)
- 1/2-1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add the potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid, and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are nice and soft.
- Drain the potatoes and add them to a large bowl with the garlic powder and a little salt and pepper.
- Slowly add the almond milk while you mash the potatoes with a potato masher until you achieve your desired consistency.
- Add more salt and pepper as needed and enjoy!
4. Creamy Mushroom Risotto
I took this creamy mushroom risotto to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner last year, and it was a huge hit! Everyone who ate it absolutely loved it. Personally, I can eat bowl after bowl of this plant-based risotto, but I’ll do my best to save some for the rest of the family this year.
5. Roasted Asparagus
Roasted asparagus has to be one of my favorite side dishes! It takes hardly any time at all to make, and it’s so delicious paired with just about anything.
- 1 bag asparagus
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse the asparagus well and break off the woody ends.
- Add the asparagus to a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
- Spread the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat and bake for 8 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender.
- Serve immediately while the asparagus spears are warm.
6. Balsamic Tomatoes
Balsamic tomatoes are another favorite side dish in my house! Josh typically doesn’t like tomatoes, but he will request these all summer long when we have fresh grape tomatoes from our garden. Even though our summer garden is long gone, we still love making this side dish with tomatoes from the grocery store.
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and halved
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Combine the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss to coat.
7. Warm and Spicy Stovetop Cinnamon Apples
I’m a sucker for cinnamon apples. Most recipes are loaded with butter or oil, but my healthy version is the perfect oil-free treat!
8. Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce
I don’t know how often normal people eat cranberry sauce, but I make a batch at least once per week all during cranberry season. I think I may have a slight cranberry sauce problem! 😉
Even though I have several different recipes for cranberry sauce in my meal planning binder, I tend to gravitate toward two recipes in particular. Both recipes are healthier since they use natural sweeteners instead of traditional white sugar.
The first recipe is my own creation.
- 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 3 pears, diced (I leave the skins on)
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (more to taste)
- Start by rinsing the cranberries well. Drain them and pick through the berries, discarding any that are squishy or look questionable.
- Next, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the cranberries and diced pears, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.
- Using a potato masher, lightly mash the cranberries and pears into a sauce.
- Continue simmering until the water is reduced and the sauce thickens a bit, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add maple syrup to taste. Start with 3 Tbsp. and add more as needed.
- Let the sauce cool a bit before transferring it to a serving bowl. Refrigerate until chilled and serve cold.
The second recipe is from Cookie + Kate. Her recipe also uses maple syrup as the sweetener, and it’s even better when you add in the optional orange juice!
9. Banana Bread
There’s just something about banana bread that makes me think of cold weather. Maybe that’s why I love making a loaf of warm, dense, spicy bread around the holidays. Most recipes call for highly processed ingredients such as white flour and sugar and animal products such as butter and eggs. However, my favorite banana bread recipe has nothing but good stuff in it. It’s fantastic!
Wrapping It Up
Don’t let the holidays completely derail your health goals. You can still enjoy some of your favorite unhealthy foods, but try to enjoy those indulgences with a generous helping of whole plant foods too. Your body will be much happier if you give it the kind of food it really wants!
Add a couple of these plant-based holiday recipes to your Thanksgiving and Christmas menus this year. I guarantee your family will love them! And if you do decide to give them a try, be sure to let me know what you think!
P.S. If you need some help planning out your holiday season, be sure to grab a copy of my free printable holiday planner!
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- Christmas Gifts on a Budget: How to Save Money on Christmas Gifts
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What about you? What are your favorite plant-based holiday recipes?
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