Spring is upon us and that means we are approaching a little warmer weather, the days are getting longer and again another holiday is approaching. Walk into any store and the isles are lined up with Easter egg coloring kits that will dye kids’ fingers for a week, plastic woven pastel colored baskets, big white and pink stuffed bunnies with floppy ears, colored cellophane and grass that you will be forever picking up all over the house, chocolate bunnies of all shapes and sizes, jelly beans with the latest exotic flavors (like cotton candy), plastic Easter eggs to fill up with treats for outdoor egg hunts, jump ropes, toy cars and other little trinkets to fill Easter baskets with.
So, my husband and I are both vegan, and as many other vegans can relate, one of the challenges that we face when holidays approach is figuring out what to do when there are simply no options available at relatives’ houses on holidays. When I first became vegan it was difficult at holidays. Upon walking in the door, I was greeted by my cheerful family who excitedly gave me hugs and kisses. The house had an aroma of food that had been cooking all morning— glazed ham, mashed potatoes with butter and milk, and all the other fixings that were glistening with golden butter.
There were always some appetizers set out to munch on before dinner was served—a beautiful display of crackers neatly lined up with gourmet cheeses, sliced pepperoni, chips with creamy dips, stuffed mushrooms made with a meat stuffing, and a veggie platter with a pre-made packaged dip—the kind where the cellophane simply tears off. So I would look at the display of food on the table, my stomach beginning to growl, and grab a few pieces of broccoli and carrots to munch on. Not being sure about the crackers or chips I would just leave them alone. When dinner was ready, there were simply no choices for me. So rather than sitting there drinking a glass of water (or wine) and maybe having a small salad while feeling a little frustrated, I thought of how I could accommodate the holidays with food that I could eat.
I have learned over the years that it can be difficult for family and friends to always accommodate your vegan lifestyle (or even know how to). So, in order to enjoy your holiday without your stomach making those grumbling hungry noises the entire time you are there, here is what you can do. My husband and I prepare our own dishes that we know are vegan and healthy, and bring them along with us. We usually call and ask, “oh what can we bring?” and often our family is more than happy to have us bring a dish. I want to share this recipe that’s perfect for Easter Sunday dinner—something you know that you can eat and maybe others would love to try. Below is a recipe for stuffed tomatoes, which I made last Easter and it was a hit! It is not limited to only stuffing tomatoes; you can also use the filling to stuff peppers, portobello mushrooms, or acorn squash.
4 to 6 organic ripened tomatoes
2 cups brown rice (or you can use quinoa)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green pepper
½ cup chopped carrot
1 cup of frozen corn
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ cup nutritional yeast
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup non-dairy cheese (I used Daiya mozzarella)
1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil.
2. Slice tops of tomatoes off and chop up the usable part and set aside. Using a spoon scoop out the inside but, keep the tomato and put it aside (not the seeds) and drain any excess fluid.
3. Cook brown rice according to package directions (cook in veg broth for more flavors). Then, mix together in a medium size bowl all the other ingredients including spices. Take the tomato that was scooped out and add that to the rice and season with salt and pepper.
4. Stuff Tomatoes with mixture
5. Put tomatoes in casserole dish and in the oven, cook for 30 minutes. Once the tomatoes are soft they are done. The time may vary depending on the size of the tomato.
6. Remove tomatoes from the oven. Turn oven to a broil.
7. Sprinkle cheese on top of bean and rice mixture. Return to oven and Broil for 5 more minutes, making sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn or until cheese is melted then serve.
MAKE YOUR OWN VERSION OF REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS
Line a cupcake pan with liners. Then melt some vegan chocolate once melted, fill cup ¼ up then add some peanut butter (crunchy works best). Then fill the remaining on top. Sprinkle some sea salt on the top and put in the freezer to set for about 15 minutes.
OTHER IDEAS FOR VEGANS
1. Offer to make an appetizer or buy your own chips and salsa that you know are vegan and healthy.
2. Make yourself a smoothie or snack to have before you go to your relatives so you are not starved
3. Bring along your own granola, bar or juice to keep as a backup.
4. Ask your relatives to put some veggies aside for you before they add butter on them,
5. Offer to have dinner at your house the following year and make your own healthier choices as well as options for relatives.
Image sources: Katiescooking.com, Sciencelakes.com