The meat free masterpiece, exciting veg ideas and dont forget Santa's vegan cookies and milk!

If you’re looking to switch your turkey for a cruelty free alternative this christmas, then what are your options?

There are two ways you can go on this (as someone speaking from the experience of 2 vegan christmasses!)

The first option: a mock meat, as in something plant based that is made to look and taste like meat. For this I’d recommend a Tofurky Roast, or Vbites Celebration Roast – or you could try a fake gammon or beef roasting joint which in my opinion also tastes nice warmed up the next day.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous then you could also make your own mock meat alternative. A quick search online will bring up lots of bloggers offering recipies for homemade seitan roasting joints!

But if mock meats are not you thing and you want something that is less processed, or maybe you’re entertaining non vegan or veggie relatives who simply dont like the idea of a meat alternative, then I would suggest going for a nuts and veggies based dish.

This could be a tart, a friend of mine last year made a delicious roast chestnut and mushroom tart for a party.

Or you could go down the nut roast or mushroom wellington route.

Arjuna makes both nut roasts and wellingtons for your vegan main.

These are homemade in our kitchen. I can tell you they are amazing and even my meat eating family thought the mushroom wellington was delicious.

You can order these in advance over the phone (01223 364845) or at the till.

We always tend to run out so please order early to avoid disappointment. You can pick them up before Christmas, either fresh or frozen, whatever’s better for you.

The Mushroom Wellington is made with hazelnuts, cashews, brazils, walnuts, mushrooms, spices and tamari, amongst other delicious ingredients, and covered with our homemade pastry.

Nut Roast is made with courgettes, a selection of nuts, spices, lemon, peppers and herbs.

Nuts are so nutritious and these mains are real crowd pleasers. We know there are tonnes of jokes about nutroast being dry etc. but a few of our regulars have ordered these every year and said that even the non-veggies want to try them because they smell so good…and then they disappear 🙂

Far from being an ‘alternative’ for Christmas we think this is the best part!

So when it comes to the festive dinner of course you have the dinner centrepiece as discussed in one of our previous blogs, but then there is the dishes and dishes and even more dishes of vegetables that tend to go with it.

If your vegan or veggie the last thing you want is people making the sweeping statement about only eating boring vegetables, so we have put together some yummy ideas, some helpful hints and some links to different recipes.

Now of course these are not just for the veggie or vegan table and we think that whatever your eating habits they will be helpful.

PARSNIPS

These are one of my favourite winter veg so this method of cooking them up is actually one that I have perfected over the last few years and will give you THE perfect roasted parsnips.

  1. Wash and chop your parsnips into batons

  2. In a roasting dish pop your parsnips, then add boiling water until they are just covered, add agave nectar, coconut or brown sugar and sir gently without burning yourself

  3. Pop some tin foil over the top and pop them in the oven for 20 min

  4. Take out, remove the tin foil and gently pour away the water, add a little more sugar and agave to coat (but not so much that it will burn)

  5. Pop them back in the oven for approx 20 min or until they are nicely roasted

ROAST BEETS, CARROTS, TURNIP AND SPROUTS

So I get the impression that some people either love sprouts or hate them, I personally am a lover of sprouts. But for those that are a little less convinced that they like these mini cabbages, then its good to know there are other ways of cooking them up. This is a dish that a friend of mine recently put together for me on a wintery Sunday and it went down a treat, not to mention the saving on washing up as your cooking 4 veg in one dish .

  1. Get yourself some fresh beetroot, turnips, carrots and sprouts, if you want to be a little more adventurous why not try and get hold of some purple or rainbow carrots

  2. Wash your veg and cut it all up into chunks for roasting and pop into dish

  3. Coat with a light amount of sunflower oil, course salt and pepper, roast in the oven for approx 40min to 1 hour

You can also try adding pecans to the mix 10 min before they come out the oven or a nice nutty taste with your vegetable medley.

BALSAMIC BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Here’s another one for those who are not to certain on the sprouts, this is a recipe that I found on the blog by My Darling Vegan and it sounds absolutely divine! So the link is HERE

MAPLE ROASTED CAROTS

So this is a recipe that one of my co-workers suggested and I think would go well with parsnips to! Its so simple that I don’t even have to write a list of instructions you simply cut up your carrots into batons, pop in a roasting tin and coat with maple syrup then roast!

CAULIFLOWER CHEESE

Now cauliflower cheese is one of my all time favourites for the dinner table at Christmas, and I am sure you all know how to make it using dairy cheese, so now im going to tell you how to make it vegan!

  1. so first you need to boil your cauliflower, and you can also use this recipe to make broccoli cheese bake to! Once very almost cooked drain the water and pop in a glass roasting dish

  2. Now for the sauce I would recommend using a vegan cheese sauce powder which can be found in many health food shops (we stock it at arjun!), or a cashew based cheese sauce like this ONE

  3. You don’t want your sauce to be to thick as it will thicken in the oven when heated, so add more plant based milk if necessary

  4. Pour your sauce over the cauliflower and into the dish, you want to cover about 1/3 or ½ way up the cauliflower but not submerge it

  5. I would then recommend using violife plain or smoked cheese and grating a good helping onto the top

  6. Pop into the oven and roast until the cheese on top is browned and yummy

ROASTED BROCCOLI

In my experience most people simply boil or steam their broccoli, but at Arjuna we sometimes bake or roast broccoli to top on our salads.

You don’t have to pre boil your broccoli, you simply chop up into florets, then coat them in a light layer of oil and add nigella seed, that is it! Then just pop them in to roast for about 30 min!

SWEET POTATO MASH COVERED IN MARSHMELLOW

So I asked my co-worker about some dishes that they serve with roasts during the festive season, I have been told this is actually something that is served for thanksgiving, so yep lets put it on the blog! Now I have not actually made this so I have gone online and found a recipe for it HERE.

Obviously we would recommend using vegetarian marshmallows and if you wanted to make it vegan they use a dairy free butter alternative. So I guess this is something you could serve if you want to throw in something a little more unusual that people may not have had before.

Do you have any great vegetable recipes for the festive dinner table? If so we would love to hear them.

Has your Santa gone vegan?!?!?

As a child, I remember leaving cookies or a mince pie out for Santa with a glass of milk and a carrot for Rudolph.

We thought we would give you a run down of some of the tasty plant based milks available that Santa might enjoy this year.

Our number one staff favourite is Oatly barista; it’s no longer acceptable to put anything other than that into our staff fridge.

Not only is it possibly the thickest and creamiest of the plant based milks but it also has another amazing trick up its sleeve, it doesn’t separate in coffee or tea!

And unlike some of the other options available it also tastes good straight from the carton. Oatly also do other varieties including an organic, original and chocolate. They recently released 3 new ones that are made to mimic milk in the sense that they have a skimmed, semi, and whole version.

There are other good options on the market beside Oatly, for example, cashew and hazelnut milk are particularly delicious for making hot chocolate!

Almond milk has a subtle nutty taste that goes nicely on cereal and good old soy milk is my personal favourite for baking cakes, pancakes and Yorkshire puddings.

Now let’s talk cookies

We have a variety of cookies here at Arjuna!

We have some with a raspberry filling by Biona that are organic, and we also have delicious individually wrapped vegan cookies by Kookie Kat.

If Santa has told you he has a gluten intolerance then we have varieties by Doves Farm that come in ginger, lemon and chocolate and are good for dunking.

But if you want a ‘real’ cookie then I’d suggest going for out Fair Trade cookies that come in the chocolate chunk and ginger flavours, both of these are what we like to call ‘accidentally vegan’.

This means they’re not labelled as vegan but contain no animal by-products, and they are a super yummy crumbly chunky cookie!

As awlays we hope this blog has been useful! Please do tell us about any yummy festive dishes you have made in the comment section.