Healthy Holiday Indulgence

10 December 2012

This is the time of year when we get together with family and friends who are probably less aware of, and surely less sensitive to, the dietary choices we’ve made in regards to the impact food has on our overall health. During this time cravings for the unhealthy foods we’re offered everywhere we go can be a powerful challenge to our coping skills. It can also be somewhat troubling to know how to properly respond to questions (or even criticism) without trying to convert those around you.

Although we know better, we can still have unhealthy cravings. And there’s a thin line between craving and addiction (see THIS POST). It’s critical to keep in mind that healthy eating habits are an advantage, not a deprivation over the holidays. Knowing that you are choosing not to pollute your body with the toxic food ingredients that surround us all during these festive occasions will keep you on track and may even be an inspiration to others – who knows, perhaps they’ll learn to embrace these differences rather than resent them.

You gotta love the old adage, “Nothing tastes as good as health feels”, which prompts us to remember that yucky, lethargic feeling we used to get after indulging ourselves with sugary, salty, fatting, msg-laden foods.

In an ideal world, we would be surrounded by delicious, healthy, nutritious, hypo-allergic foods; especially at holiday time when everyone wants to feel their very best in order to make the most of their celebrations with loved ones. So in the spirit of the holidays, over the next couple weeks this blog will feature a variety of nutritious and satisfying plant based recipes that will help us stay on the path to optimal health and wellness.

We’ll start with these recipes, but stay tuned there’s more to come.

Appetizer – Mushroom-Almond Pate (serves 4 – 8)


  • 1 cup almonds, ground
  • 2 oz. (approx ½ stick of Earth Balance vegan butter substitute)
  • ½ lb. portabella mushrooms, finely chopped
  • ½ tbs. salt
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • pepper to taste
  • ½ cup water


  • Melt the Earth Balance, add the thyme and sauté the mushrooms.
  • Add the water and allow the mixture to season and cook off a bit.
  • When the liquid is about halved, remove from the heat add the ground almonds and puree to a fine pate.

Serve with warm pita triangles or crackers of your choice.

Lentil, Walnut & Celery Salad (serves 4)


  • 8 ounces lentils
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • cumin to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Cook the lentils with the salt, cumin and a bay leaf until just tender but not too soft depending on what sort of lentils they are.
  • Drain and cool (discard the bay leaf).
  • In a small bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and add to the lentils.
  • Shake together the vinegar and oil and pour over the lentils.

Can be served warm or cold.

Entrée – Tempeh Bourgogne (serves 4)


  • tbs. olive oil
  • pkg. (approx 9 oz.) tempeh, sliced in bite sized pieces
  • package (8 oz.) mushrooms, sliced
  • large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine or more if needed
  • 2 tbs. Braggs Aminos
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (optional), cut in small pieces
  • 1 tbs. arrowroot flour or cornstarch


  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
  • Add the onions and saute until semi-clear.
  • Add the chopped red bell pepper and sliced mushrooms.
  • Lightly saute the vegetables.
  • Add the tempeh pieces and saute until golden brown.
  • Add the wine, Braggs and seasonings.
  • Shortly before serving, mix the cornstarch in a bit of red wine and add slowly this to the mixture in the frying pan, stirring until the sauce thickens.

Serve this with cooked potatoes, either mashed, or boiled.

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