Recipe: Healthy vegan side dishes for the holidays

Vanilla+mashed+sweet+potatoes+%28front%29+and+Dijon+rice+with+broccoli+are+sweet+and+savory%2C+but+all+in+all+mouth-watering+dishes.+Kick+off+your+holidays+with+these+healthy%2C+hassle-free+side+dishes.

Vanilla mashed sweet potatoes (front) and Dijon rice with broccoli are sweet and savory, but all in all mouth-watering dishes. Kick off your holidays with these healthy, hassle-free side dishes.

by Kaitlyn Gee

Every Thanksgiving dish does not have to involve hours of preparation, or even meat or dairy at all.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, it is easy to feel left out of the Turkey Day fun. Almost all traditional Thanksgiving dishes are meat-based or have some dairy ingredient.

With the exception of meat replacements, Vegan Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to test out fun and interesting recipes. Furthermore, the dairy-free cuisine is a healthier low-calorie option than the traditional meals. Here are some light, delicious vegan meals to enjoy for the holidays.

Vegan Pumpkin Sage Pasta:
262 Calories per serving. Great for reusing any leftover pumpkin from October! This quick and simple meal captures the essence of fall into a low calorie and tasty meal.

Ingredients:
4 ounces whole-wheat pasta
¾ cup vegetable broth
¾ cup canned pumpkin
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
⅛ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste Vegan Parmesan for garnish (optional)

Directions: makes two servings
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

2. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low heat for five minutes until thoroughly warm.

3. Taste, adding more sage if desired.

4. Cover and let sauce rest for five to 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to merge and the sauce to thicken slightly.

5. Toss cooked pasta with pumpkin sauce and taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with vegan Parmesan if desired.

Tip: For a one-pot meal, prepare sauce in the same pot used to cook pasta, setting the pasta aside as you make the sauce.

Dijon Rice With Broccoli:
150 Calories per serving. Dijon mustard and broccoli compliment each other beautifully with a side of rice, creating a flavorful and absolutely delectable dish.

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
2 to 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1½ teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
¼ to ½  teaspoon hot sauce and sugar, to taste (optional)

Directions: makes two servings
1. Steam broccoli or, if it is frozen, microwave as directed.

2. Meanwhile, whisk two teaspoons of Dijon mustard, low-sodium soy sauce and hot sauce (optional) together.

3. Taste, adding more hot sauce and Dijon mustard if needed. Depending on your taste, you can intensify the amount up to 1½ teaspoons of hot sauce and 3 to 4 teaspoons of Dijon. If the Dijon is too strong for your liking, add a few drops of agave nectar or a pinch of sugar to help cut the bite.

4. Mix with cooked rice. If you are using leftover rice, remember to add a splash of broth or water before reheating it).

5. Finally, mix in cooked broccoli and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potato:
224 Calories per serving. Sweet and simple, this dish pleases even non-sweet potato pie lovers. This recipe is a quick and refreshingly different approach for traditional Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

Ingredients:
¾ pounds sweet potatoes, cleaned and left a bit damp
¼ cup plus ¾  tablespoons silken tofu (heavy cream for the nonvegan reader)
1/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional, but tangerine and clementine zest can be substituted)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Salt and Pepper for seasoning

Directions: makes two servings
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender to a fork tip (depending on the oven, approximately an hour.) Remove from oven and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes until warm enough to handle. Peel and discard the skin. Put the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

2. While cooking the potatoes, pour the silken tofu or cream into a large pot, add the vanilla bean and orange zest and set it over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes.

3. Using tongs, find and discard the vanilla bean. Pour the mixture over the potatoes in the processor and add the butter.

3. Puree the potato mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, or to taste. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.