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3 Delicious Vegan Turkey Recipes for the Holidays

I enjoy sharing traditional recipes that have been modified ro meet the health requirements of those who are gluten-sensitive and vegan!

Don't worry turkeys, we're not coming for you.

Don't worry turkeys, we're not coming for you.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dilemma

If you are vegetarian or vegan, the holidays present a dilemma if you are having people over to dine, or joining others elsewhere. Vegetarian turkey recipes are everywhere now, as are rather pricey store-bought versions of faux turkey.

If you are joining family or friends for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or another holiday, why not try some of the recipes here and offer to bring your own fake bird along to share? If you are hosting a dinner that will include vegetarians, you might want to leave some space on your table for Tom's tofu twin.

Have fun trying out a couple of the following turkey analogue recipes before the big event! I would suggest that you cut the recipe ingredients in half or even to a quarter for a trial run. Have a family panel give you some feedback on what they think of the experiments before you bake them up on the big day.

"Freedom From Want," painted in 1943 by Norman Rockwell

"Freedom From Want," painted in 1943 by Norman Rockwell

Why Eat Turkey at Thanksgiving, Anyhow?

We have all heard that the Pilgrims had a great nosh-up of wild turkey when they celebrated their first, and subsequent, thanksgivings in New England. And this is why we eat turkey every year at Thanksgiving. Well, according to what I read online, in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians sat down together at the table for their first Thanksgiving feast, they had the possibility of a whole hoard of critters to gorge on: wild turkey, yes, but also lobster, seal, eel, goose, duck and codfish.

Are we absolutely certain that they didn't just fill their tummies with Indian corn pudding and wild goose? Goose is said to have been the contemporary celebratory fowl—Queen Elizabeth the first is rumored to have gobbled down goose as the Spanish Armada sank, and when she was given the 'good news' of this, she ordered a second goose.

Turkey Day

The speculation that the roasted turkey replaced the English roasted goose seems logical since the turkey was just so much more abundant in the New World.

In 1943, Norman Rockwell painted the picture called Freedom from Want that appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. It seems that Herbert Hoover's 1928 presidential slogan promising "a chicken in every pot" got bloated up a little as this grand turkey on every family's holiday table. Americans related to the turkey imagery as a sure sign of "abundance" in their nation, something to be thankful for. Europeans, however, saw the turkey as a symbol of American imperialism and over-consumption of world resources.

For Americans, and Canadians as well, the turkey at Thanksgiving was a touchstone in all family gatherings. There were games and rituals that just focused on the turkey (such as 'getting the Pope's nose' and 'pulling the wishbone') until, seemingly, the spiritual associations between the turkey and Thanksgiving for plenty just morphed into this thing called "Turkey Day".

Wheat Gluten, or Seitan

The use of protein from wheat—or gluten—is documented in food use back in 6th-century China. In the United States, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium began advertising the use of gluten in 1882 for consumption by vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists. I became an Adventist in 1993 and was introduced to gluten at a vegetarian 'cooking school.' The process I saw involved 'washing' the wheat flour to separate the starch from the protein, and then eventually boiling it in a broth to firm it up and give it a meaty flavour. Seitan is the name given the wheat protein analogue by the Japanese macrobiotic cooking founder, George Ohsawa.

Most vegetarians who cook with gluten today use a high gluten flour ("vital gluten") to make their gluten meats. It is a much quicker, simpler process. I recommend watching the videos by Kyung Weathersby who is a health-conscious traditional Adventist cook. The following recipe is for a gluten roll stuffed with the dressing like many of us would associate with the stuffing in the Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey. It is a delicious combination that has the familiar aroma and flavours of the bird without the cost, labour and ethical/health concerns that would prevent vegetarian and vegan folks from eating this.

The video below just shows the turkey analogue recipe, but the stuffing can also be found on the same channel (Kyong Weathersby): vegan stuffing.

1. Vegan Stuffed Turkey Roll Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 1 hour 30 min

Ready in: 2 hours 30 min

Yields: 6 to 10 servings

Ingredients

For the gluten roll:

  • 3/4 cup / 115 grams cashews or cashew pieces
  • 2 cups / 500 ml / 1 pint water
  • 1/4 cup / 10 grams nutritional yeast flakes (NOT baker's yeast or brewer's yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon / 5.7 grams sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon / 25 grams vegan chicken-like seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon / 5.7 grams onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams garlic powder
  • 2 cups / 256 grams vital gluten flour
  • 2 tablespoons / 16.2 grams whole wheat flour
  • 1 recipe of vegan cooked stuffing (see link above)

For the chicken-like seasoning:

  • 1 tablespoon / 7.5 grams corn or potato starch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons / 10.35 grams onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon / 2 grams turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams anise powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Measure out all ingredients beforehand and have them ready to go. You might need to combine the ingredients for the chicken-like Seasoning together in a jar. You will only be using a tablespoon of this but will need them to be combined.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F / 163°C.
  3. You will need one recipe of cooked stuffing ready to go into the roll. (see link above).
  4. Add to the blender: water, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, sea salt, chicken-like seasoning, garlic, and onion powder. Blend until fully smooth.
  5. Whisk together gluten flour and whole wheat flour in a bowl.
  6. Add blended liquid to the dry ingredients and wearing plastic gloves, mix together as shown in video.
  7. Cut a piece of parchment paper into about 15" x 20" and turn the dough onto the paper. Gently shape it into a rectangle that is about 14" x 10".
  8. Spoon on the stuffing down the middle of the turkey roll. Using the parchment paper, fold the roll over the stuffing, both sides of the rectangle/roll. Twist the roll on both ends and cover with foil, as shown in the video.
  9. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Cool slightly and slice about 1-inch pieces of the roll.

A Taste of Heaven

Kyong has written a cookbook highlighting gluten-free plant-based recipes with similar flavours and aromas as her previous gluten-containing recipes. You can purchase it on Amazon as a spiral book called A Taste of Heaven, Book 3: Vegan Vegetarian Cookbook.

2. Vegan Tofu Turkey Recipe

Another Great Tofu Turkey Recipe

3. Raw Vegan "Couldbee Turkey" (No Tofu or Gluten)

This is an adaptation of the Almost Turkey recipe in Recipes for Life from God's Kitchen, by Rhonda J. Malkmus (published by Hallelujah Acres Publishing in 2002).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup / 140 grams almonds
  • 1 cup / 250 grams almond butter
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cup / 150 grams zucchini
  • 2 cups / 200 grams celery
  • 2 cups / 100 grams carrots
  • 1 cup 150 grams yellow squash
  • 1/4 teaspoon / .17 grams sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 2 grams kelp (or other sea vegetable powder)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • Extra-virgin coconut oil (for oiling the pan)

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, whirl up 1 cup of almonds into meal. Combine with the almond butter in mixing bowl.
  2. Peel and finely chop the tomatoes into the bowl.
  3. Shred carrots, squash and zucchini into the bowl.
  4. Dice the celery fine, and put 1 cup into the mixing bowl and 1 cup into your blender and liquefy. You may strain through a nut-milk bag, or just add puree to the bowl with all other ingredients.
  5. Knead together until it resembles a stiff dough-like consistency. Add more almonds or flaxseed meal if the dough is too thin.
  6. Press the mixture into a coconut-oiled pan and chill. Slice and serve on a bed of lettuce with cranberry sauce.
Beautiful cranberries!

Beautiful cranberries!

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

What would turkey be without cranberry sauce? I feel just the same way about fake turkey—it should still have a lovely cranberry sauce or cranberry relish to go with it. The humble cranberry is a healing berry. Did you know that the flavenoids in cranberries is said to inhibit bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder? (but if you are drinking cranberry juice, consume only the unsweetened variety because refined sugar, high fructose corn sugars, and sugar facsimiles will only promote more bacteria to form). There is also some indication that cranberries have a compound in them that will prevent the build-up of plaques in the arterial walls, thus preventing cardiovascular disease.

This recipe is tangy and delicious, on tofurky, etc., but also as a pancake sauce!

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 oz.) package frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
  • 1 large apple of any variety
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange pieces, including the peel, washed
  • 1/3 cup liquid raw honey or drops of stevia to taste (or other sweetener)

Instructions

  1. Place frozen berries in a blender and whirl up, a few at a time (so they don't get pureed entirely). Pour blended berries into a bowl and set aside
  2. Place all the orange slices in the blender and add the sweetener. Whirl up together with cranberries
  3. Peel and grate the apple into the orange-cranberry mix
  4. Put the sauce in the fridge and chill for at least 1 hour

What Do Vegans Eat?

In case you are not sure, a vegetarian can be someone who eats no animal products or by-products (including dairy, eggs, fish, chicken, shrimp, or animal products in dressings, cakes, etc. ) in which case they are called vegan (pronounced vee-gun or vay-gn) whereas there are quite a few variations in vegetarians-- some may eat eggs and dairy (called ovo-lacto vegetarians) and some may actually eat a little fish or chicken along with their largely vegetarian fare.

Raw vegans do not eat vegan fare that has been heated above 118 degrees. Like vegetarians, 'raw vegans' have their range of differences as well—some will not eat any condiments, for example, and some will partake of olive oil and honey. Some are closer to being 'fruitarian' which means they eat a lot of fruits (example: the usual fruits as well as avocado, cucumber, pumpkin, seeds, and nuts, and other produce that is considered the "fruit" of the plant it goes on). It is probably a good idea to check with your guests at time of inviting to see who eats what these days—potlucks can generally take some of the challenge out of the situation, but it's nice if the hostess can provide some of the larger, expected foods at the table (for example, the turkey and the fake turkey).

Vegans have made the choice for the way they eat for different reasons. Many are concerned about the welfare of animals in general, and at Thanksgiving, they are especially concerned about the plight of turkeys in factory farms like you see in this brief (thankfully) video by PETA. Believing "you are what you eat", other vegans are more focused on the health benefits of eating an organically grown, locally farmed, plant-based diet. Most vegans have at least some philosophical belief in the connection between vegan diet and lifestyle and the sustainability of our planet.

I Miss Turkey Leftovers! (Not)

I was a young matron in the day of 1001 ways to use up leftover turkey, and I have some distinct recollections of feeling ill after the turkey tetrazzini, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup run of trial recipes. We stopped cooking turkey back when one son claimed to be allergic to chicken and turkey and the other one went vegan. Now that I have seen that sad video about the factory-farmed turkeys, I know that I definitely won't be lapsing and snarfing a turkey sandwich when out for lunch.

Too, one is more apt to get a food-bourne disease from turkey that has been left out on the counter overnight (listeria or salmonella for example) than from a nut-carrot based turkeyless turkey. (not that I am suggesting that you should leave any food out in a room overnight).

However you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, have a happy, safe and connected time with your family and friends!

Comments

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 07, 2016:

Hi Veganfitspiration-- glad you liked the recipes! Let me know what you think of the almond turkey recipe when you make it

-- if you are celebrating this weekend, Happy Thanksgiving!

Amy from Colorado Springs on October 06, 2016:

Oooh what a great collection of recipes! My husband and I are vegan and we are very excited to try the almond turkey recipe! Thanks :)

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on March 12, 2016:

I believe one pays for the brand, Besarian... it's like buying Kleenex instead of the regular store brand of tissues-- you pay through the nose when you buy the Kleenex brand, pun intended. Thank you for your comments, and I would have you over to my house for Tofurky anytime! ~Cynthia

Besarien from South Florida on March 12, 2016:

I had Tofurkey at a friend's house one year. She made a turkey breast and a tofurkey because one guest who was supposed to show but didn't was vegan. I tried both (most people there wouldn't) and honestly preferred the tofurkey. I could eat it any day and be happy. Wheat and soy though, why so expensive? Vegans get a very raw deal, it seems.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 06, 2014:

heheh... I hear you Au fait... we are vegan-flexitarian meaning that 95% of the time we eat vegan, but there are times when we eat a little of the other kingdom. My husband learned about Ayurvedic foods when taking a longevity course at the local Elder College and we have started to use ghee (clarified butter) in a lot of our soups, etc.

You might want to check out the non-tofu (raw) turkey-ish recipes above, if you are feeling experimental... or not. It's sometimes fun to show our kids how innovative and unpredictably creative we really are:P

Thank you for checking out this page, and for your comments!

~Cynthia

C E Clark from North Texas on December 06, 2014:

You have a lot of good information here.

Daughter is a vegetarian. She reads the ingredient list on everything before deciding if she will eat it. We have had 'tofurky' every Thanksgiving for several years now. We don't usually have turkey or tofurkey for Christmas.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 27, 2013:

thank you for your comments Joanna! I love veggie turkey myself, and I love seitan. Let me know if you have it for Thanksgiving!

Joanna Slodownik from New Jersey on September 25, 2013:

I love your hub. Yeah, Thanksgiving will be here before we know it... What I was thinking about was trying to make seitan dish - I had it in a restaurant in mushroom sauce and it was delicious - very meaty-like, a good substitute of white-meat for meat eaters.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on November 24, 2011:

thanks for your comments Livelonger... maybe you want to try the turkeyless version for Christmas? I don't think it is restricted to Thanksgiving Only... although it is kind of nice to have certain designated celebratory dishes, to build new "traditions" for example. Let me know how your turkeyless cooking ventures go...

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on November 21, 2011:

I *really* wish I had read this Hub about 2 weeks ago. I couldn't find anything out there that wasn't tofu-based, so we settled on a mushroom pot pie (made with chanterelles) as our main veggie dish. However, I'm really excited about trying the Couldbee and/or Turkeyless versions next year.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 28, 2010:

hey, glassvisage, thanks for checking this hub out... I can tell you that the tofurkey cooks well and tastes delish... I think all the youtubes would be an asset in prep. If you do give it a try, let me know what you think! In Thanksgiving, Cynthia

glassvisage from Northern California on October 26, 2010:

Vegetarian turkey!!! I'm a vegetarian and I still haven't jumped on the Tofurkey train. I hear good things and I know I'd love it, but I wonder how it is to cook :) Thanks for the Hub!

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