I know I passed the Halloween mark with this recipe, but I’m sharing it with you guys in time for YOU to share it with YOUR family for Thanksgiving. Last year (2017), was my first vegan Thanksgiving and it was the best Thanksgiving I have had so far. I am super excited for this year because I have found so many new recipes throughout the year that I am excited to share with my family, like this one.

Before we get into the recipe, let’s talk a little bit about eating plant-based during the holidays. This can be one of the hardest times of the year to stick to your values. There are many reasons for this so if you find yourself having trouble, don’t worry… it’s normal, especially if you’re new at this. Here are some of the reasons it can be difficult to not jump back into your old eating habits:

We eat for social reasons. A lot of the times we find ourselves in social situations where food is involved. The biggest ones? The holidays! Have you ever been at a holiday event and theres appetizers out on the table and you’re munching on them even though you’re not hungry? Yup, social eating. To help avoid social eating problems, make sure you bring snacks, entrees, etc. that you can eat. Bring enough to share, so people can try your delicious food and you’re not the only one eating “different.”

We eat for emotional and traditional reasons. By emotional, I don’t mean crying over a tub of ice cream… I mean that we have emotions rooted in our childhood, teenage years, adulthood, etc. that are tied to food. This is especially true around the holidays. Personally, we have some foods in our family that we eat every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. One example is turkey, this may be the same for many people. You might associate turkey with happy memories every year at Thanksgiving. I was never really a fan of turkey, but I loved stuffing and looked forward to having it every year for Thanksgiving. But guess what? It is so easy to recreate recipes to make them vegan and healthy! It will take a little work at first, but start swapping out ingredients. Turkey may be the trickiest to make plant-based, but (although I haven’t tried it) they make alternatives like tofurkey. Just do a little research.

Pressure from your loved ones. This may be one of the most difficult things to do deal with around the holidays. Not everyone will understand the reasons behind the choices you make for your health and the food you eat. Since food is such a big part of the holidays, it will more likely than not, be a topic of conversation around the dinner table when your plate isn’t filled with what everyone else is eating. Your loved ones may make comments (some may be not so nice) about your eating choices and it may pressure you to eat what everyone else is. But its important to stand your ground. The best advice I have heard when it comes to talking to others about your eating choices is to make it focused on YOU, not them. By this I mean, let them know how YOU enjoy eating this way, and how YOU feel good. Don’t point fingers and say “well, that turkey is not good for you.” Then change the subject.

Be prepared. You’re going to want to make sure you bring food with you to holiday events so you have something to eat while everyone else is eating. Try to bring extra so people can try it if they want. They may say no to your tofurkey, but they’re not going to say no to a delicious salad, sweet potato streusel or these delicious Pumpkin Spiced Balls.

Pumpkin Spiced Balls

(makes about 12 balls)

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds

4 dates, pitted

1/2 tbs coconut oil

1/2 cup pumpkin (from BPA free can)

2 tbs rolled oats

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp pumpkin spice

1 tbs maple syrup (or more to taste)

cinnamon to garnish

  1. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Blend all ingredients in a blender. You may need to scrap down the sides with a spatula to make sure everything blend evenly. Taste and add more maple syrup if desired.
  2. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop some of the mixture and form into balls. Place on lined baking sheets. Chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving. Sprinkle with some cinnamon before serving.
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