11 Vegan Thanksgiving Staples for the Holiday Kitchen

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Oh, the holiday season. How we love this time of year... except for, you know, being the token vegan at the holiday table centered around a stuffed dead bird. But fear not with these vegan Thanksgiving staples.

Whether you’re a vegan cooking up some holiday feasts for the first or fiftieth time, or you’re going to be hosting vegans this year, there are some vegan Thanksgiving staples to make your meals scrumptious for everyone.

  1. Vegetables: It’s a “duh” kind of list item, but between the turkeys, hams, boxed stuffing and pies, some tables are actually void of vegetable dishes. ‘Tis the season for yummy veggies, though, and it could be a meal-saver for a vegan. Whether you roast up some Brussels sprouts, make cauliflower steaks or smash a squash or sweet potato, making a simple, vegan vegetable dish is a must.
  2. Protein: You can find vegan holiday roasts at most major supermarkets these days. Really. Tofurky, Gardein and Field Roast all make vegan feasts that cook quickly and taste amazing. For the culinary-inclined, check out my recipe for making your own vegan roast. Or simply have some grilled tempeh or tofu steaks on hand. We’ll even take a bean dish. We're not hard to please, really!
  3. Whole grains: Keep vegan bellies full with healthy whole grains like quinoa, barley or brown rice. A simple veggie pilaf can be loaded with protein and all the fiber in whole grains will fill up vegan bellies even if you don’t have a vegan roast or centerpiece.
  4. Thickener: Want to make vegan gravy, pumpkin or sweet potato pie? Cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca can do the trick.
  5. Vegan butter: It seems counterintuitive, but a non-dairy spread can take the place of butter 1:1 in a number of recipes from baked goods to casseroles to your grandma’s famous stuffing recipe. Earth Balance makes a delicious one. You can also use a refined coconut oil that doesn't have the coconut flavor.
  6. Nondairy milk: You can add almond, soy, coconut or rice milk to mashed potatoes, pies, soups and casseroles. Doubly beneficial for the dairy-allergic guests too.
  7. Veggie broth: It’s okay if you don’t make your own veggie stock these days because there are so many good store-bought options available. Perfect for your stuffing, gravy and more.
  8. Tamari: A traditional soy sauce livens up roasted veggies, gravies, soups and stuffing. It’s a must for any kitchen, vegan or not!
  9. Flax seeds: Baking is a science, but there are tricks around conventional recipes. For example, using ground flax seeds (mixed with water) can replace eggs in certain recipes. It’s a healthy source of omega-fatty acids, too.
  10. Nutritional yeast: Baking your own vegan roast, making gravy or a vegan cheese sauce is a cinch with the B vitamin-rich and oh-so-flavorful addition of nutritional yeast. Buy it in bulk and use year-round in a number of vegan recipes.
  11. Miso paste: This traditional fermented vegan food hails from Japan and can make a lovely soup starter or a scrumptious salad dressing. A little goes a long way and is full of umami flavor. Opt for white miso for a smooth, mellow flavor that will work with a number of dishes.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Stacy Spensley

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