Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It’s a time of celebration. Friends and family gather together to give thanks for the blessings in their lives. One blessing to honor and to be thankful for is your health so why not consider focusing this Thanksgiving’s menu on healthy vegan food.

Many people are under the impression that a vegan diet or healthy food means boring flavor. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, some of your favorite holiday recipes may in fact already be vegan. For example, your recipe for cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole and brussels sprouts may already be vegan friendly. But what about the main courses? This recipe for shepherd’s pie will likely please vegans and meat lovers alike.

Shepherd’s Pie

• 8 large potatoes
• 2 tablespoons butter substitute
• 1/2 cup rice milk
• Salt to taste
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 6 ounces cremini mushrooms
• Two 15-ounce cans lentils, lightly drained
• 2 tablespoons dry red wine
• 1 to 2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
• 2 to 3 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning blend like Mrs. Dash
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 3 tablespoons arrowroot
• 8 to 10 ounces baby spinach or arugula leaves
• salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Step One: Peel dice and boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain and add butter substitute and rice milk. Mash until creamy.
Step Two: Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Sauté onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onions are golden.
Step Three: Add lentils and the liquid. Bring to a boil. Add wine, soy sauce, seasoning blend and thyme. Simmer for five minutes. Add arrowroot and blend until dissolved and thickened. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
Step Four: Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Place mixture into a casserole dish and top with a layer of mashed potatoes. Bake for 40 minutes or until potato crust is golden. Let stand for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

And if you love stuffing (and who doesn’t) consider the following meatless recipe.

Stuffing with Apples and Walnuts

• 6 cups firmly packed diced whole grain bread
• 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
• 2 crisp apples, peeled and diced
• 3 scallions, thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon dried sage
• 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 1/2 cups apple juice

Preheat oven to 375
Step One: Place diced bread on cookie sheet and toast in oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Step Two: Heat oil in sauté pan, sauté onion over medium heat until translucent. Add diced apple and sauté for five minutes.
Step Three: Combine toasted bread and apple/onion mixture in a large bowl. Add scallions through walnuts. Slowly add apple juice as you toss the ingredients together. Salt and pepper to taste.
Step Four: Transfer to a baking dish coated in cooking spray. Bake for thirty minutes. Serve and enjoy!

You can serve these dishes alongside a traditional turkey or forgo the turkey this year. The choice is yours. Enjoy and have a happy, healthy, holiday.

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