A V-ery Veggie Christmas to you

by Gazette Reporter

Louisa Moss shares some practical tips on how to cope if a couple of your Christmas dinner guests tell you that they are now vegan.

It’s your turn to cook Christmas dinner and the pressure is on!  You haven’t been entertaining as much as usual because well, none of us have been entertaining as much as what was normal but you have a handle on it, you’ve planned your menu, you have great aunt Mary’s embroidered table cloth specially dry cleaned, you have made the Christmas cake and followed the recipe perfectly, it looks amazing and then your sister rings to tell you she will be there but herself and her partner are now VEGAN. 

You can feel the blood drain from your face as you think about having them at your table refusing your food and making everyone feel guilty.  But fear not, I have a handy guide to help you get through the preparations, making it easy for you and keeping everyone happy and well fed!

First things first, if you think about it, most of what goes on to a Christmas dinner plate is vegetables – potatoes, parsnips, carrot, brussels sprouts and it is very prepare all those vegetables, so they are suitable for everyone. Jut make sure that roast potatoes and parsnips are cooked in a vegetable oil and in a roasting tray separate to the turkey.  Cooking carrots and brussels sprouts – just keep them dairy free and don’t be tempted to add anything extra of the animal variety to the sprouts -they are much tastier and healthier on their own!

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Bought boxed stuffing is often suitable for vegans and vegetarians – do check the ingredients – when you make it up, if you add fat, make sure to use a vegetable fat like Flora original instead of butter

If you are making gravy from scratch, don’t use any of the fat from the turkey.  Keep it dairy and animal fat free ad everyone will enjoy it from the same jug

Cranberry sauce is usually suitable for vegans

For the protein part of the vegan meal, there are lots of off the supermarket shop options available. Starting with vegan sausages available from all supermarkets from around 1.49 for 6, there are nut roasts available at competitive pricing.  I am going to share a very simple nut roast recipe further on – it is so delicious that you might find that it disappears quicker than the turkey!

Starter wise – if you are having soup as a starter, use vegetable stock and vegetable oil – if you would usually add cream maybe let your guests add this themselves at the table

Vegan desserts are surprisingly easy to make.  I think the best option here is to ask your vegan guests to bring a dessert that maybe everyone could share.  If that isn’t an option vegan Christmas puddings are available from supermarkets as are vegan custard, soya cream and ice cream.

I am going to share an easy chocolate sponge recipe below that everyone will love, and no-one will know it is vegan!

How to cope with vegan guests at Christmas

  • Don’t panic
  • Make all the sides suitable for everyone
  • Buy a suitable for vegan spread like Flora original, some plant milk (Oat Milk from Tesco 1.29), some nice chocolate (we like Booja Booja and Vego) 
  • Don’t ask them if they miss the turkey!
  • Make everything on the table as shareable by everyone as possible so everyone feels included
  • Buy some accidentally vegan snacks like plain hula hoops, ready salted kettle crisps, salted peanuts, Starburst, Jellytots
  • Last but not least, you might not have thought about this because wine is made from grapes, and it must be vegan, right?  Well yes, but some wines aren’t suitable for vegans, but the good news is that all of the leading supermarkets have wine that is suitable for vegans.  Aldi always marks their wine as vegan (Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 3.99) as does Marks and Spencer.  SuperValu is always well stocked, but you may have to ask which wines are vegan.  Barnivore.com is a useful resource for checking which alcoholic drinks are okay

Favourite Christmas Roast

  • Vegetable oil for frying onion and garlic
  • Large onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 20 g wholemeal flour
  • 80g oats, pulsed in a blender
  • 80g dried cranberries soaked in 60ml hot water
  • 280ml stock made with a vegetable stock cube
  • 180g chopped cashew nuts
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment – 2lb loaf tin, greaseproof paper, blender

Pre-heat oven to 190C or 180C Fan oven or Make and Freeze in advance

  • Toast your cashew pieces lightly in your frying pan without any oil, for 1-2 minutes until the nuts begin to brown gently. Tip them out and put to one side
  • Fry the onion in the oil for a few minutes then add garlic. Cook for a few more minutes until soft but not browned
  • Sprinkle the oats and flour on top. Stir well. Add the stock and water used to soak the cranberries stirring all the time. Simmer slowly for two or three minutes.
  • Stir in the nuts, cranberries, vinegar and seasoning.

Spoon the mix into a greased 2lb loaf tin. Bake for around 25 mins.  Leave for a few minutes before turning out of the tin and slicing

If making in advance, cool then cover and freeze in the tin.  Take out of the freezer the night before you want to use it

Easy-peasy Chocolate Cake

  • 215 g self-raising flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • Juice of 1 and ½ lemons
  • 150 ml light vegetable or groundnut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence

Buttercream

  • 100g vegan butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 tbls cocoa powder

Turn oven on to 180C, grease and bottom line two round 7 inch cake tins

  • Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda into a large bowl.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix
  • Mix all the wet ingredients together in a jug
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ad mix together
  • Pour the cake mix into the two tins, dividing equally
  • Bang the tins on the worktop to get some air bubbles out of the mix
  • Bake for about 35 mins and cool on a wire rack.
  • When cool, sandwich and top with the buttercream made by beating together all the ingredients, adding a little hot water to get the consistency you want

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