Throw a plant-based holiday party, or just have the tastiest treats 'round for the holidays. Find out which sweet and savory foods top our "best of" list for this joyous time of year. As a bonus, I'll match each recipe to a homemade holiday decoration that I've made out of recycled materials. In 2017, say "YES" to sustainable living. We'll be here to help, and we wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday season.
Forkful of Love's best of holiday cheer menu:
1. No Bake Raw Cookie Balls & Save the Polar Bears Ornament
These cookies combine four amazing whole plant food for health: carrots, walnuts, raisins and dates. Combined in a food processor and rolled out into balls, the cookies are also raw, maximizing nutritional benefit. To highlight a few, carrots contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, and support liver function, which is main detoxing and fat metabolizing organ. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats which help to lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.
Like everything on this list, these cookies are vegetarian, vegan (dairy-free), gluten-free, oil-free, and made of whole, plant-based foods that protect human health. Beyond health, eating this way is important because it rejects industrial animal agriculture, which is a main precursor to our current environmental crisis. Occupying much of the world's land and water resources, driving greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and pollution, factory farming has also threatened the the extinction of many animals including polar bears.
To spread awareness of this issue, I've made a polar bear Christmas tree ornament by cutting bear shape out of cardboard, covering with scrap paper that has a nice print, and attaching a ribbon, all items that I could reuse from other packaging. See it there above? V cute!
2. Plant-based Snickerdoodles & Multipurpose Advent Calendar
These cookies I made to look like the snickerdoodles that my Mom taught me how to make as a kid. High in fiber and protein, the main ingredients are garbanzo beans and almond butter. You might find this an interesting combination, but the results are a nutty and comforting cookie, just perfect for this time of year. With some smart vanilla, cinnamon, and coconut sugar seasoning, you can get a variation very similar to snickerdoodles.
Also a childhood memory, my parents used to make with us advent calendars out of paper rings. Each night we'd rip off a construction paper ring that we had previously glued together during craft-time while listening to Christmas records. I've always admired beautiful advent calendars and decided to make my own using some found wire, store-bought clips, and a felt Santa to move along the countdown. Although I bought the clips, I found a second use for them as I also use this advent calendar as the holder for all of my holiday cards. Reusing and finding multi-purpose use is a good way to limit the amount of materials we throw out.
3. Pomegrante Salad & Seasonal Wall Art
My go-to party food for years, a pomegranate fruit salad is a crowd-pleaser that is beautiful and cheery. Pomegranates are amazing artery-cleansers that are good to incorporate during times when you tend to eat a bit heavier, or less than ideal, foods. It's your pomegranate insurance policy. Bright red blulbs explode in the mouth leaving a refreshing and cool feeling.
Much of my homemade decor is framed holiday cards or cutouts I've made from scrap cards and printed paper or handmade drawings. All of your year-round frames can be reused by just replacing pictures with your new holiday look.
4. Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins & Pinecone Centerpieces
Plant-based muffins are easy to make, warm the home, and offer a fun baking experience. While all sorts of plant-based foods can be used such as apples, zucchini, pumpkin, or pear; a raspberries muffin comes out red spotted as if you were baking with holly berries. Adding in some vegan, natural chocolate is a wonderful treat. It's technically not a cookie, but Santa would still be very happy. Leave it for him with some almond milk!
Treat your table with a beautiful centerpiece. Use any wide, clear vase or glass container and fill with pinecones, which can be found on any hiking trail or in your backyard in most areas. If you can't find any pinecones, any natural twigs or tree matter that has fallen can be used to make awesome holiday crafts.
5. Gluten Free Veggie Pizza & Burlap Wreath
Pizza always gets a cheer! Make a pizza and give it a try without cheese and add fresh red sauce and tons of veggies. Choose organic veggies whenever possible. This is a recipe that can be made for dinner for 2-4 people and paired with a salad, or it can cut into little squares as the perfect party appetizer.
Pizza is warm and welcoming. A plant-based pizza works for most everyone. Plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian eaters have a great option, while everyone else gets to eat something they know and love, and is just as delicious.
Just like the wreath on your door, this pizza says, "oh hello." I made this wreath out of a round, metal form, and burlap ribbon. Each year, I take the burgundy base and repurpose it. I've decorated it in previous years with the tan ribbon wrapped to look like two roses, once I hung a tree ornament in the center, and I've used dried berries and flowers. Make something old new, and you'll reinvent your decor and challenge your creativity.
Thanks for coming along on this sleigh ride through sustainable living. I know that to go against the grain is very hard. I know how strong the pressure is to eat thoughtlessly and buy, buy, buy. But you, as the consumer, have the most power. Additionally as a family member, a friend, a colleague, YOU have the power to impact so many people and their decisions, because they know and admire you.
So hang in there, and congrats! Living with compassion for others and animals, living strategically for our planet, and living smartly for our health, is one of the best gifts you can give or receive this holiday season.