For years Christmas has been a traditional ‘meat-fest’ with vegetarians and vegans often feeling left out at the dinner table. But there is no longer the need to resign yourself to grazing on a side salad and a few roast potatoes.
Vegetarian food has never been more mainstream – or exciting – with our social media feeds now crammed full of drool-worthy banquets of inspiring plant powered dishes.
In part, this is thanks to the likes of Jamie Oliver and the rock-star of vegetarian cooking Yotam Ottolenghi, who have taken it upon themselves to inspire everyone to eat more vegetables. It’s also because of a new legion of veggie fans.
In fact, one of the biggest food trends in recent years has been Flexitarianism
– eating predominantly, but not strictly, vegetarian – with almost half a million New Zealanders stating their diets are ‘almost all’ or ‘all’ vegetarian, up 27% in the past four years.
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So whether it’s your first vegetarian Christmas or you’re simply looking to make veggies the star of more dishes at your festive dinner, we’ve got you covered. Here are our six top tips for a very veggie Christmas:
- ‘Tis the Season: Use what’s in season to inspire your menu. It will guarantee you have wonderfully fresh produce that is also better for your budget. Some veggies to keep an eye out for are asparagus, capsicum, avocados, butternut, snow peas, artichokes and courgettes. For fruit, of course there are Christmas cherries and berries, summer stonefruits and watermelon.
- Be adventurous: Complement the traditional roast vegetables with something more daring. Why not try a new cuisine, unusual ingredients like ancient grains or heirloom veggies like purple carrots? Alternatively, just mix it up when it comes to the family favourites. Even the humble cauliflower can be roasted whole, served up as steaks on a bed of creamy puree, or chopped finely as cauliflower rice. The sky is the limit and an adventurous dish is always a great conversation starter.
- No need to miss the carve: Try a meat alternative for a tasty roast with all the trimmings, like this Sweet Cranberry Herb Glazed Roast from our friends at Life Health Foods. Another great option for a hero dish that can be carved at the table is a veggie wellington or a savoury strudel.
- Budget beans: Grains and legumes are a delicious and budget-friendly way to bulk up dishes and make sure everyone reaches that button-popping level of full reserved especially for Christmas day. Grains make a great side to soak up a sauce, beans are ideal for a mash or puree and both can be added to almost any salad.
- Calling all stuffing fans: Here’s a simple way to include Grandma’s traditional turkey stuffing recipe into your scrumptious vegetarian feast. The delicious mix of grains, spices, dried fruits and nuts is also perfect to stuff veggies like capsicum, mushrooms, eggplant and tomatoes.
- Get into the spirit of spiralising: No matter how you cut it, spiralising veggies is a trend we’re all happy to embrace. Spiralised courgettes and carrots look gorgeous in a big bowl of veggie goodness and they are also a great alternative to pasta, if you are looking for gluten-free option. To top it off, the kids just can’t resist nibbling on the colourful noodle-like springs.
Most importantly, just breathe and remember no matter what you serve up, it is sharing a meal with family, friends and loved ones that really matters.
Looking for more plant-powered inspiration? Explore our Christmas recipe collection.