Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply trying to eat less meat, the holidays are an exciting time to experiment with new dishes. Vegetarian diets offer a variety of health benefits and can be great for weight loss as well. Plus, it’s much easier than you think to make delicious meals without using any meat at all! I’ve rounded up some of my favourite recipes for meat-free holiday meals below:
Roasted eggplant stuffed with mushrooms and topped with goat cheese.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again lengthwise, so you have 4 long strips of eggplant. Scoop out the flesh and place it in a large bowl. Discard skins or save for another use
- Mash up the eggplant pieces with a fork until uniform texture is achieved, adding salt as you go along to taste (eggplant can be bitter if not salted enough).
- Chop up breadcrumbs into small pieces using a knife or food processor until they are fairly fine crumbs; add these to the mashed up eggplant mixture along with chopped mushrooms and goat cheese (or any other type of cheese)
Vegetable Stuffed Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are an excellent source of vegetable volume, and they’re also pretty easy to prepare. Bell peppers can be stuffed with a variety of ingredients, including rice or beans, cheese, tofu and spices. You can bake or fry them as well.
Bake your bell peppers in the oven at 375°F for 15 minutes per pound (about 45 minutes total). Or fry them in olive oil until soft enough to cut open with a paring knife (about 5 minutes per side). Once cooked through, remove from heat and fill each pepper half-way with your choice of stuffing. Place back on baking tray seam-side down for 20 minutes more (or until stuffing is hot).
Baked Acorn Squash, filled with quinoa, currants, and pine nuts.
- 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons currants or raisins, dried cranberries or cherries (optional)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts or pistachios, chopped (optional)
- Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place squash halves cut side up on a baking sheet. Bake until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before scooping out the flesh of each half into a bowl; discard shells. Stir together squash and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl until combined thoroughly; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately as is or top with butter or olive oil if desired. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days reheating gently before serving hot again warmed throughout
Orange Cranberry Sauce
This recipe is amazing! You can add or subtract ingredients to make it your own.
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup cranberry juice (or grapefruit)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg and whole cloves
- Grated zest of one orange (optional)
Butternut Squash Soup
Gluten-free, vegan and low-carb will also be options for this recipe.
Butternut squash soup is a delicious option for any holiday table. The orange color from butternut squash is a great contrast to other foods on the table, while its creamy texture and mild sweetness make it an ideal complement to other dishes like roast beef or prime rib. This easy recipe can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth; gluten-free by using gluten-free flour; paleo by omitting the cream and butter; vegan by replacing cream with coconut milk or almond milk and butter with olive oil or coconut oil (toasted walnuts make a nice garnish). The possibilities are endless!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
- Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin and vision.
- This recipe is a great alternative to traditional pasta dishes. Because sweet potato gnocchi contains no wheat flour, it’s also gluten-free.
- This dish is easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time—you can even freeze it! It’s also versatile: try serving it with any sauce you want (tomato sauce, pesto or cheese).
Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups
- Prepare your lasagna filling by mixing together the spinach, ricotta cheese and egg in a medium bowl.
- Place a sheet of no-boil lasagna noodles on a dry surface (preferably parchment paper) and spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling down the length of each noodle, leaving about 1/4″ space at both ends. Roll up like a cigar and place seam side down in an 8×8 baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray or covered with foil; set aside while you repeat with remaining ingredients (you should end up with 14 rolls).3. Pour marinara sauce over top and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly hot around edges and centre is warm (or microwave according to package instructions). Serve immediately!
You can buy mushroom varieties that are already stuffed, but if you’re feeling ambitious, making your own is a great way to get creative with this recipe.
The secret to a good stuffed mushroom is stuffing it with something delicious—like cheese or vegetables—and then baking them in the oven until they’re golden brown and bubbly. Making the filling is easy: just chop up some vegetables (we recommend mushrooms, onions and garlic), mix them together with some spices (such as cumin), add cheese if you want and bake until golden brown on top! It’s one of our favourite vegetarian holiday dishes because it’s so easy to make without needing any extra ingredients other than what you have lying around your kitchen already.
Green Bean Casserole, made with homemade cream of mushroom soup.
- Cream of mushroom soup is a classic dish, but you can make it even better by using fresh mushrooms instead of canned. Fresh mushrooms have a much better flavour and texture than canned ones.
- Try any kind of mushroom you like!
Mashed cauliflower is a versatile side dish for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. It’s low in calories and high in fibre, so it can be a great option when you’re trying to lose weight without sacrificing flavour. The recipe below uses milk, but if you prefer your mashed cauliflower dryer and fluffier, simply omit the milk altogether.
You can easily make this dish with a hand blender or food processor; just pour hot water into the pot of blended cauliflower, then add butter and cheese until smooth.
You can make healthy delicious holiday meals that don’t involve meat!
Don’t be fooled by the misconception that vegetarian meals are not as delicious or as filling as meaty ones. You can easily make delicious and healthy vegetarian dishes for yourself on your own time, without relying on meat. Here are some ideas:
- Make a salad with leafy greens, avocados and nuts for a filling meal.
- Try a pasta dish with mushrooms in it instead of ground beef or chicken.
- Bake some sweet potatoes with chili powder or cinnamon sugar on top! Delicious!