Protein is a nutrient needed for growth and maintenance; and amino acids are its’ building blocks. Of the 20 amino acids, 11 can be made by the human body; the remaining must be derived from food. These nine are known as “essential” amino acids. Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are classified as complete proteins.

All food that comes from animals is complete proteins. Plant-based complete proteins include: soy, quinoa, buckwheat, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds. Combining nuts/grains, grains/legumes or nuts/legumes also create complete vegan sources of protein. With this knowledge, the classic question “are you getting enough protein” to vegans and vegetarians can be answered, yes.

Holidays like Thanksgiving where carnivorous fare dominates can make a vegan or vegetarian feel left out. Having one or two vegan or vegetarian guests over for thanksgiving dinner may also prove to be challenging for the host. My sister is a vegan and I once served a commercially prepared “turkey” product and regretted every moment of it as I watched her chew and swallow with strained, polite effort.


The next year I was determined to make something fantastic, where she didn’t feel like she was subjected to eating just the side dishes and I wasn’t in the kitchen for an extra 2 hours along with my good intentions. Here are last five years of my vegan Thanksgiving endeavors for my sister. She also got all her essential amino acids; these recipes are all complete proteins.

“Turkey” TVP meatloaf with portobello mushroom gravy (serves 8)


– 3 cups Textured vegetable protein (TVP) 2 cups vegetable broth 1/2 cup onion, diced 1 medium to large carrot, shredded 1 rib celery, finely diced
– 2 cloves of garlic, pureed or finely chopped
– ¼ cup olive oil ½ cup Whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour) Salt to taste
– Pepper to taste
– ¼ teaspoon ground sage
– ½ teaspoon ground rosemary
– 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce 2 tablespoons Tomato paste
– 1 cup of navy beans, boiled and skins removed
– 3 cups of water
– 1 cup tomato puree
– Additional water, if needed.


1. Bring the navy beans to a boil in 3 cups of salted water. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat and let cool while remaining in the water.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil. Remove from heat and add TVP kernels and Worcestershire Sauce. Let stand for 10 minutes until the TVP reconstitutes.

3. In a skillet, sauté the onion, celery and carrot in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until the onion turns translucent.
4. Add sautéed vegetables to the TVP and broth mixture.

5. Pour navy beans into a colander and rinse with cold water. Skins from the beans will be loose. Remove skins by hand or simply rinse them away.

6. Place beans with the tomato paste and all but 1 teaspoon of the oil in a food processor. Puree until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until mixture resembles a nut butter in its texture.

7. Fold the pureed beans mixture into the TVP mixture. Add the flour. Mix together well.

8. Grease a loaf pan with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil.

9. Pack TVP/bean puree mix into the bread pan.

10. Pour tomato puree over the “meatloaf”.

11. Bake at 350° F for 60 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then turn over onto a serving plate.

12. Slice and cover with Portobello Mushroom Gravy.

Portobello mushroom gravy


– 10 Portobello mushrooms, sliced
– 1 cup white wine
– 1 cup vegetable broth
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 2 teaspoons all purpose flour

vegetarian thanksgiving recipes2


1. Over medium heat, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic and stir while cooking; about 5 minutes. The mushrooms will soften and shrink.

2. Add the white wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Some of the wine will evaporate.

3. Add vegetable broth and cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat.

4. Strain away ½ cup of the liquid without the mushrooms into a bowl and set aside.

5. Pour mushrooms, broth and wine mixture into food processor. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Puree until smooth.

6. After the reserved liquid has cooled, add the flour and whisk until dissolved. Pour into the mushroom gravy. Stir well. Gravy will thicken more as it cools.

Succotash (makes 8 portions)


– 1 large garlic clove, minced
– 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
– 4 ears of corn, kernels sliced off
– 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 red pepper, diced
– 1 cup onion, diced
– 2 cups lima beans, boiled and rinsed
– 5 cups of water
– ½ cup sliced almonds
– Salt and pepper to taste
– ¼ cup white wine
– 3 tablespoons of crème fraiche (omit if vegan)


1. Boil lima beans in 5 cups of water for 15 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached. Rinse well. Set aside.

2. While beans are boiling, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the onions; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cane sugar and continue to cook, stirring well, about 5-7 minutes more or until onions turn a rich brown colour. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add red pepper and sprinkle with salt. Sauté for 5 minutes then add the garlic; stir together for about 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, corn, wine and lima beans. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until corn and lima beans are tender and tomatoes are soft, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Meanwhile in small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil on medium heat. Once oil is hot, add sliced almonds, stirring constantly as almonds brown; 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel so that any excess oil is absorbed.

5. Add 3 tablespoons of crème fraiche to the corn and lima bean mixture, stir well over heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour caramelized onions into the succotash and mix together well.

6. Top with toasted almonds when ready to serve.

Lentil loaf (serves 4)


– 1 cup dry lentils
– 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
– 3 tablespoons chia meal (ground chia seeds)
– 1 egg
– beaten (omit if vegan)
– 1/3 cup water
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 3 garlic cloves
– minced 1 medium onion
– diced 2 ribs celery
– diced 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
– 1/4 teaspoon paprika
– ½ teaspoon dried thyme
– ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
– ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
– salt and pepper to taste
– 6 tablespoons tomato paste
– ½ cup water
– 2 tablespoons
– soy sauce
– 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
– ½ teaspoon garlic powder


1. Wash the lentils.

2. In large pot bring 2 1/2 cups water and lentils to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat and leave lentils to stand in their water. Set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. In a small bowl combine ground chia seeds and 1/3 cup water, set aside.

6. In medium frying pan heat oil medium heat, add garlic, onion, and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring so garlic does not burn. When done, set aside.

7. Puree 2/3 of the lentil/water mixture in a food processor until smooth.

8. In a large mixing bowl, combine sautéed vegetables with the remaining whole lentils, lentil puree, chopped parsley, flour, chia mixture, egg, and spices. Mix well. Add pepper and salt as needed.

9. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Oil parchment paper well. Add lentil loaf mixture. Cover with tin foil.

10. Bake in oven for about 50-60 minutes.

11. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing. Loaf will solidify more.

12. Slice loaf and arrange slices on serving tray. Pour glaze on slices and serve.

Tofu and vegetable shepherd’s pie (Serves 8)


– 32 ounces super or extra firm tofu
– ½ cup olive oil
– 2 small onions
– diced 2 celery ribs
– diced 2 carrots
– diced 2 cloves garlic
– crushed
– 1 clove garlic pureed
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 2 cups vegetable broth
– 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
– 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 8-10 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

vegetarian thanksgiving recipes3


1. Cut tofu into small cubes and blot with paper towels to absorb any excess water.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat and cook tofu until golden. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Remove tofu from skillet and set aside.

3. Fill a large pot with water and add ¼ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes and boil for 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are soft and easily mashed.

4. Drain water from potatoes and use and electric hand mixer to whip potatoes into a mash, adding 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth in increments as you blend as well as the pureed garlic clove.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

6. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil in the same skillet. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent.

7. Add flour and stir into the vegetables.

8. Add remaining 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth and stir until mixture is smooth.

9. Add tofu, peas, sage and thyme and stir well.

10. Fill the bottom of a large baking dish with tofu mixture.

11. Top with mashed potatoes and smooth out the top.

12. Bake for 45 minutes or until the sides of the pie start to turn golden brown.

13. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Vegan mac and cheese casserole (serves 4)


– 2 1/2 cups cauliflower, chopped
– 1 cup raw cashews
– 1/3 cup chick pea flour
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– ½ cup olive oil
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 cups uncooked macaroni
– ½ cup breadcrumbs
– 2 tablespoons truffle oil


1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

2. Add cauliflower, garlic and cashews. Cook until cauliflower is very soft and easily pureed.

3. Remove from heat and drain.

4. Place boiled cauliflower, cashews and garlic along with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt into a food processor and puree until smooth adding the chick pea flour in increments to thicken. Set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.

7. In a large bowl, mix together macaroni and “cheese”.

8. Add breadcrumbs and mix well.

9. Pour mixture into a baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown.

10. Drizzle with truffle oil and serve.

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