How to Enjoy a Healthy, High-Raw Vegan Thanksgiving
For many people, the holidays are a time to splurge mindlessly on food. This results in feeling overly bloated and full the next day. For others, it is a time to feel deeply saddened over the food choices of their families, avoid gatherings, stress over the temptations they will feel, and really dread the big family dinner ahead. A raw vegan Thanksgiving that is truly healthy includes balance, and does not include either of those two things.
I have experienced both, and both were completely unsatisfying to me. Gorging on food mindlessly is distracting from enjoying deep connection with family and friends. It was a way for me to ignore my feelings and fears, like anxiety around certain people in my family, or anxiety that the holidays won’t go as I planned. Eating mindlessly distracted me from dealing with issues around certain family members, and rather than dealing with these issues, it was a sort of temporary Band-Aid, and left me feeling so much worse for the rest of the week. And this mindless eating can also include a raw vegan Thanksgiving.
On the other hand, when I began to force myself to “stay perfectly on track” and eat exactly as I do during the rest of the year, holidays became all about suffering, and again, focusing on food rather than genuine connection and the happiness and gratitude for family and friends. Holidays became all about my success or failure at staying on track, measuring myself and my self-worth based on these things.
But there is an alternative to all of this. We can have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving, feel wonderful the next day, enjoy healthy food and healthy relationships with our family and friends also. I firmly believe that hiding our insecurities, anxieties, and fears with food only exacerbates them, because we will not get to the root of the problem this way. I know this post is getting much deeper than a “Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner Menu”, but I am so connected and understanding of all of the feelings that arise around the holidays!
Holiday Success Tips
Watch my YouTube video on my top tips for staying healthy during the holidays:
My main tips for enjoying a healthy, deeply nourishing raw vegan Thanksgiving holiday are:
- Prepare yourself emotionally in advance. If there are things that will trigger negative emotions during the Thanksgiving dinner itself, spend time thinking about them, journaling, and working to bridge the gap with other family members. Turn this into a nourishing activity, where you use the time before Thanksgiving to figure out what will make you truly happy on the holidays, and what you need to do to make it happen.
- Spend time meditating, or using guided meditations, before the holiday to increase your positive emotions and to connect more deeply with yourself. There are many guided meditations available on YouTube for free, and I love to do them twice daily – in the morning and evening.
- Choose your attitude, because the way the holiday will go is completely your choice. If you want it to be a great one, where you feel balanced, choose that attitude, and write down what you need to do to get there.
- Prepare in advance – decide what you will be making ahead of time, using suggested meal ideas below.
- Let your family members know that you will be bringing your own meal with you, and that you will have enough to share with everyone, but don’t preach to them that they should eat healthier during the meal. It will only upset and annoy them. Focus on you and your choices.
- Surround yourself with people who you love, and make you feel good. Focus on your relationships with those people during the meal, rather than being perfect and eating a perfectly healthy meal.
- Focus all of your efforts on feeling balanced, before, during, and after the Thanksgiving meal. Make sure the food you are eating makes you feel happy and healthy, and not too full. Make sure you are not using food to avoid certain feelings, or dealing with certain people. Let the holiday be a time for you to achieve self-love, love for others, and inner feelings of peace and tranquility.
Do I have to Eat Traditional Foods on Thanksgiving?
While many people crave traditional dishes on the holiday, I like to change it up with a new tradition. It’s fun to create new traditions by eating new foods and dishes, rather than creating vegan or raw vegan versions of holiday favorites. Of course, it is totally your choice – you can definitely easily mock your favorite holiday dishes and create healthy versions of them. It’s fun to keep your mind open to the new and the old, because transitioning to a healthy diet means discovering a whole new world of tastes and flavors.
A vegan diet includes abundant options of new dishes we have not explored before. In that spirit, it’s wonderful to show your friends and family new options and possibilities, and to enrich them with the amazing world of vegan options that exist.
What My Family Eats on Holidays
I am lucky to have a vegan family – partner, mom, and dad. We get together and enjoy delicious food that is healthy and compassionate. This holiday season we made a wonderful dinner that was mostly raw vegan, aside from one dish. We did splurge a bit – we created very hearty and fatty dishes, unlike what we normally eat. On a daily basis, my family likes to eat relatively low fat and simple meals. But on the holidays, we create more complicated and flavorful dishes.
Each member of the family got an assignment of a yummy dish to make, or just the dishes ;). We planned the dinner ahead of time, and it was so fun to get together and enjoy so many amazing recipes. It was a feast of flavors! Another wonderful thing was having my good friend with us at mealtime too. She is very spiritual and unique, and the conversation between us was very deep. My focus was on the conversation and loving bonds, rather than the food, and this was the key to my happy belly the next morning.
My family was not always vegan. When I lived in Jerusalem, we often enjoyed holiday dinners with my partner’s family, most of whom were not vegan. We would bring many dishes with us, and even invited them to our place. We never told them what to make – they had their own food, and we brought food to share. Over the years, they got to love our recipes and dishes. They even joined us for fully raw vegan dinners at our home! It took time, patience, and love.
Below are some of my favorite dishes to have at the dinner table for the holidays. Of course you can choose to make more traditional dishes, but these are sure to please your family too!
A Delicious, Healthy Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Menu
This truly delicious raw vegan Thanksgiving menu combines my Middle-Eastern influences from beautiful Jerusalem, with delicious, hearty main dishes, and a festive dessert. I recommend starting with dessert for better digestion, but it’s totally up to you. Enjoy and be good to yourself!
Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Appetizer: Hummus Dipping Sauce
You can find two delicious hummus versions here. The bottom is my absolutely favorite! Enjoy your hummus with raw flax crackers, or some cut up vegetables for dipping.
Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Salad: Raw Vegan Pomegranate Tabbouleh
You can find my delicious festive pomegranate tabbouleh recipe here.
Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Main Dish: Raw Vegan Ravioli
This has got to be one of my family’s favorite dishes. It uses a simple, thinly sliced vegetable wrapper, with a delectable cashew cream sauce to create an amazing raw ravioli. You will not taste the difference! While quick to make, this is a very festive dish.
Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Main Dish: Raw Vegan Noodles
I have several amazing noodle dishes on my blog. You can see many of them here. My favorite has got to be the raw vegan fusion Alfredo pasta! It includes an amazing Alfredo sauce, made with cashews and steamed cauliflower. By the way, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable. It is a great idea to include both cooked and raw cruciferous vegetables in your diet to get all of the health benefits they offer.
Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Dessert: Coconut Parfait with Festive Persimmon Chocolate
This dessert is unbelievable, and is very festive because persimmons resemble the flavor of pumpkin pie. It is even better than pumpkin pie, believe me!
Coconut Parfait with Festive Persimmon Chocolate
For the coconut cream
- Meat from 5 young Thai coconuts about 4-5 cups of coconut meat
- 1/4 cup coconut water or enough for blending
- 10-20 medjoul dates to taste
For the persimmon chocolate
- 1-2 very soft juicy ripe persimmons
- 10 medjoul dates
- 2 teaspoons raw cacao or carob powder
For the coconut cream
- Blend all ingredients together until very smooth.
- To get the coconut meat and water out of the young Thai coconut, I like to use a meat cleaver to open the coconut, and a "coconut buddie" to scoop out the meat. You can see how I do this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi0mhAZ0wRE.
- After blending until very smooth, place the mixture in a silicone cookie tray in the freezer. Pour a small amount into each cookie holder, until the whole tray is filled, and freeze for about 8 hours, or until very hard and firm.
For the persimmon chocolate
- Blend all ingredients together, using as little water as possible to make a thick and creamy pudding-like consistency.
For the final assembly
- Take the frozen coconut mixture out of the freezer, and place all the "cupcakes" into the food processor. Process until completely smooth (this make take about 20 minutes).
- Scoop a small amount of the cream into a glass cup, then a layer of the persimmon chocolate, and top with another coconut layer.
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