Festive Sips and Nibbles Vegan Holiday Treats that Everyone Loves


by Judith Fertig

For those who like to eat plantbased meals most of the time, the holidays can present a challenge. Social occasions from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day abound, including multi-course dinners and potlucks; treetrimming and baking parties; neighborly hospitality; nibbling on treats while wrapping gifts; and gathering to watch a holiday movie.

Because so much is happening in such a short period of time, people often revert to serving traditional foods such as Aunt Mary’s cheese ball or Grandma Daisy’s three-layer chocolate bars. These vintage recipes, however, can be laden with processed ingredients. Foods that signaled holiday cheer ages ago need a tweak or two to satisfy today’s health-minded friends and family members. With traditional flavors of the season like aromatic spices, fresh rosemary and chocolate, plus a plantbased philosophy, family favorites can get a new twist.

Natural Awakenings asked cookbook authors, chefs and bloggers from around the country to help us celebrate wonderful holiday moments, big and small. Adding a plant-based nibble or sip not only helps party hosts stay on track, it also helps keep guests from over-indulging, so that everyone ends up enjoying themselves even more.

Judith Fertig writes cookbooks and foodie fiction from Overland Park, Kansas (JudithFertig.com).






Spiced Pepitas

These crunchy pumpkin seeds are
lemony, salty, spicy and zesty, all at the
same time. A handful of these toasted
tidbits whets the appetite.

Yields: 2 cups
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375° F.
In a medium bowl, toss together the
pumpkin seeds, lemon zest, lemon juice,
salt, cumin, pepper, coriander, chile
powder, cayenne and garlic powder.

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet
and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven
and shake to redistribute the seeds, and
then bake for another 3 minutes. Pull it
out to shake the pan again. Then finish
baking for 1 to 2 minutes or until the
pumpkin seeds are crispy and golden
without burning them.

Transfer to a cool baking sheet and
cool completely before storing in an
airtight container.

Courtesy of Sandra A. Gutierrez,
SandrasKitchenStudio.com; author of
Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of
Latin America.

Truffle Spiced Popcorn

This wicked, fresh, piping-hot popcorn
is kissed with a simple blend of
rosemary, onion and truffle oil.

Yields: 9 cups
2½ Tbsp grapeseed oil
A bit less than ½ cup popcorn kernels
1 Tbsp truffle oil
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
½ Tbsp onion granules
½ tsp fresh rosemary, minced
Sea salt to taste

On medium heat, warm the oil in a
large saucepan with a lid.

Remove from the stove and add all
kernels in an even layer on the bottom
of the pan.

Cover for 20 seconds to allow all
the kernels to become coated and
reach equal temperature so they all
pop at once.

Place the covered pan back on the heat
and shake it while it’s on the burner. The
kernels will slowly begin to pop; once
they start, crack the lid slightly to let out
a bit of steam.

Continue shaking the pan
over heat until the popping stops.
Remove from the stovetop immediately
and pour all popcorn into a large bowl.

Drizzle with truffle oil, nutritional yeast,
onion granules, minced rosemary and sea
salt. Shake and mix well before serving.

Courtesy of Chad and Derek Sarno,
WickedHealthyFood.com; Chad is
co-author of Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150
Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a
Mouthwatering Revolution.







Beer-Miso-Sriracha Roasted Chickpeas

Any favorite beer will work.
Yields: 2 to 4 servings

1 (15½ oz) can chickpeas or garbanzo
beans, drained and set aside
1 Tbsp sriracha
1 Tbsp organic miso paste (any color)
1/3 bottle of beer
Black and white sesame seeds
Dried chili to taste
Smoked salt for garnish to taste

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Whisk wet ingredients until mixed well.

Toss mixture with chickpeas.

Place mixture on baking pan and roast
for 20 to 30 minutes, shaking and
stirring periodically until mixture is
evaporated and chickpeas begin to
get color; beware of burning.

Garnish with sesame seeds and dried
chili, maybe a little smoked salt.

Courtesy of Chad and Derek Sarno,
WickedHealthyFood.com; Derek is the
former global executive chef for Whole
Foods Market.

Frothy Hot Chocolate with Pistachio Milk

Cozy up and indulge in this thick,
creamy and rich hot chocolate made
with whole food ingredients.
Yields: 2 servings

Pistachio Milk
½ cup raw shelled pistachios
2 cups filtered water
½ to ¾ cup unsweetened baking
cocoa or cacao powder
¼ to ½ cup date paste
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dash Himalayan pink salt

For the pistachio milk, soak the nuts
overnight in a bowl of water.

Rinse before placing them into a highspeed
blender with the 2 cups of water.

Blend until the mixture is completely
puréed and milky.

Strain mixture through a nut milk bag or
cheesecloth; then add the nut milk back
into the blender.

Add all other ingredients and blend at a
high speed until thick.

Note: If using a regular, slower blender,
re-warm the hot chocolate on the stove
top. It may not be as thick and frothy
but will taste good.

Courtesy of Sophia DeSantis, who blogs
her recipes at VeggiesDontBite.com



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