Milwaukee Bites

Thanksgiving for “veg heads”

By - Nov 23rd, 2011 12:00 pm
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Thanksgiving is a day food lovers look forward to all year, but “Turkey Day” poses obvious problems for vegetarians and vegans. Although there are many of options beyond the main course – potatoes, casseroles, breads, cranberry sauce, desserts (mmm…) – there is often a hole on the plate where turkey would be.

Personally, my mom is great about making sure I have plenty of vegetarian options at Thanksgiving: vegetarian stuffing (made with vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth), vegetarian gravy (mushrooms can add a nice “meaty” flavor), casseroles with bacon/ham/etc. in a separate side dish for meat-lovers to add; you get the idea. I don’t go hungry.

But to help fill the turkey void, I found a couple recipes that will ensure you’ll be laying on the couch watching football (go Packers!) with the rest of your tryptophan-ed (yes, I made that a verb) family and friends.

Vegetarian Lentil Loaf

This is a great main-course option if there are multiple vegetarians or vegans in your Thanksgiving crew. It makes two loaves that could serve 10-15 people. Although it takes quite a bit of time to prepare and cook, it’s hearty, filling and full of great whole grains. I served a slice of the loaf on a piece of wheat bread and topped it with mashed potatoes and vegetarian gravy – yum!

This lentil loaf also makes for great leftovers. The night after I made it, I heated it up, topped it with BBQ sauce and made a faux-BBQ pork sandwich. The next night, I crumbled the loaf apart, put it in a frying pan with taco seasoning, added some cooked vegetables and made some delicious burritos. The versatility of this food is amazing, so you won’t miss out on the leftover factor either.


  • 1 1/2 cups lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups millet
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 9 cups water
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup cashews, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/12 tablespoons crumbled fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • salt to taste


Combine lentils, millet, rice and water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, decrease heat, and simmer until cooked. It will take about one hour. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pans. Add the remaining loaf ingredients and mix well. Transfer mixture to loaf pans and bake for one hour, or until lightly brown and the top is dry to the touch.

Barbecued or Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a good, easy-to-make option if fewer people are vegetarian or vegan (make this vegan by opting for margarine instead of butter and syrup instead of honey).

Mix a few ingredients in a bowl, cut the squashes open, empty out the squash guts and fill the “squash bowls” with the mixture. Since the oven is usually on all Thanksgiving day, just pop it in while other things are cooking* until the squash is tender. (*Beware of turkey juice.)


  • 3 acorn squash
  • 1 28 ounce can vegetarian baked beans, drained
  • 4 tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine


Cut each squash in half widthwise. Slice 1/4 inch off the rounded end of each half so the squash sits upright without wobbling. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard.

Mix baked beans, barbecue sauce, maple syrup and brown sugar in small mixing bowl. Divide mixture evenly among squash halves and top each half with 1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine. The squash can be prepared several hours ahead of time to this stage and refrigerated.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Cover lightly with foil if filling starts to dry.

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Pie 

Since dessert is just as important as the main course, here is a great and easy option for vegan dessert. Vegetarians don’t usually have to worry about whether they’ll have dessert options, but it can be much trickier for vegans. I used a sugar substitute to lower calories (be careful with ratios here) and pumpkin pie spice instead of the nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves because I had it and not cloves in my pantry. This pie is super rich and tasty – non-vegans will never know there is tofu in their dessert!


  • 1/2 pound firm or extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • 1 pre-made pie crust


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Process all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy, adding more soy milk if needed. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until set. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if desired and enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Dining, Life & Leisure

0 thoughts on “Milwaukee Bites: Thanksgiving for “veg heads””

  1. Anonymous says:

    That acorn squash dish looks delicious. Thanks for the recipes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    tryptophan-ed ? Really ?

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