Keeping It Healthy: How to Get Through Christmas If You Are a Vegetarian

The Czech Republic is world famous for its traditional cuisine, replete with a variety of cooked, fried, and stewed meat along with juicy gravies. Goulas, svickova, pork knee with crispy crust, and whole roasted duck served together with lush knedilky dumplings and sauerkraut make the Czech Republic a mecca for meat lovers and a place to avoid at all costs for vegetarians. However, the country that seems like a nightmare for vegetarian’s ranks among the top for European vegetarian-friendly cities. Why is that?                   Lately, the trend of abstaining from meat, and even dairy products (called veganism, which is a more extreme form of vegetarianism) has made it to Europe after spreading in the United States. Following the mass spread of this trend, the Czech Republic is first among central and east European vegetarian-friendly countries, with 1.5% of its population adhering to a vegetarian way of life and the number keeps growing.              The reasons range from a loving care for animals to the idea that in this age of potential hormonal and chemical intoxication of the meat products, vegetarianism is far healthier. In 2016, Prague can already boast about one vegetarian establishment per 1580 inhabitants. This is in comparison to, say, Berlin, where for example there is one veggie friendly establishment per 2384 individuals.                                                                             When it comes to the environment, health, and animal rights activism, being a vegetarian, or vegan is a win on all sides. Many celebrities such as Adele, Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus, Ellen Page, and Tobey Maguire have already foregone meat consumption entirely, to live their jet-set lifestyles in this more eco-friendly manner.                                           Not only are many celebs abstaining from meat, but they also actively participate in animal rights campaigns. Thus, in a campaign by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) the “Game of Thrones” star, Peter Dinklage, shared his experience of being a vegan and said “it truly is less expensive and vegetarian restaurants are very easy to find”.

With Christmas not far off, it is a perfect time to try new alternatives to traditional seasonal festive meat dishes. Vegetarian cuisine has more to offer than just tofu and nut substitutes for meat. WEAREME.FASHION gathered some dainty yet exquisite recipe ideas that are easy to make for the Christmas dinner table. Stay healthy, fit and beautiful for the upcoming New Year and require less work on those New Year resolutions. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Vegetarian cracker starters

Ingredients:

  • 500g butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes;
  • 2 tbsps. olive oil; 3 tbsps. Honey; 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 200g feta cheese, cut into small cubes;
  • 200g hummus (shop-bought or homemade);
  • 200g blanched almonds; 100g shelled pistachios;
  • 50g dried cranberries; 24 sheets phyllo (filo) pastry;
  • Olive oil to brush the pastry, as needed;
  • Salt and pepper to season;
  • A little ground cinnamon to dust (optional);
  • Kitchen string to tie the crackers (optional).

Directions:                                                                                                                                      

In an oven preheated to 180C put a pan oiled in 2 tbsps. Butternut and add cut squash, so that the pan is covered. Sprinkle 2 tbsps. Honey and cumin over the squash. Roast 20 minutes or until it becomes soft. Then take it out and let it cool a bit.                   Meanwhile, chop almonds, pistachios, and cranberries and add them to a bowl together with hummus and feta. Mix well and then add the squash, then add another tbsp. of honey. Add additional seasoning according to your preferences and mix well again.     Place three phyllo sheets cut in squares and brushed with oil on top of each other and add a bit of the filling (3tbsps.) along the bottom edge of one side leaving some space from the either sides. Roll into the big candy form, brush the top of the phyllo paper with oil and fix both sides of the roll with kitchen strings.                                                                                Put the rolls on the baking paper you placed on the large tray leaving some space between them. Brush the rolls a bit with the olive oil from the top and put in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top turns to gold. If the ends keep roasting cover them with strips of foil. After the crackers are done leave them to cool down for 5 minutes before serving. Click here to find the full recipe

Nava’s Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie 

Ingredients:

  • 8 large or 10 medium potatoes; 2 tablespoons no hydrogenated margarine;
  • 1/2 cup rice milk; Salt to taste;
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 large onion, finely chopped;
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced; 6 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms;
  • Two 15-ounce cans lentils, lightly drained but not rinsed (or about 3 1/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid);
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine, optional;
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid;
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning blend (such as Spike or Mrs. Dash);
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme; Freshly, ground pepper to taste;
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot;
  • 8 to 10 ounces baby spinach or arugula leaves;
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs (gluten-free if needed).

Directions:     

First, it’s time to get the mashed potatoes ready. You will peel the potatoes, put them into a pot and add enough water to cover them up entirely. Once this is done, keep them simmering until they become quite soft, which should take about 20 minutes. Next, add margarine and let it melt, then add some milk warmed up from the microwave and mash everything together until it becomes a fluffy substance. The mashed potatoes are done and for now, you can cover the skillet and then put them aside.                                         Next, heat the oil in a medium skillet and fry the onion until it becomes transparent. After that, add the garlic and mushrooms and keep them on a medium heat setting until the onion becomes a golden color, then add the lentil and liquids (amino/soy) and bring the dish to a simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Once the mushroom and onion are done, dissolve the cornstarch in some water in a small container and add to the lentil mix. Finally, add some spinach until it wilts down and add spices in the flavor.                                                         For the final preparations of this dish, first, you oil the deep-dish pie plate, and then evenly spread the breadcrumbs over the bottom. After this, first, pour the lentil mixture and then spread all of this mixture over the mashed potatoes. Finally, put it in the oven for 30-50 minutes until the potatoes start turning gold.  Click here to find the full recipe 

Whole roasted cauliflower by Jamie Oliver

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves of garlic; 1 teaspoon smoked paprika;
  • ½ a small bunch of fresh thyme; olive oil; sea salt;
  • freshly ground black pepper; 1 lemon, zest and juice of;
  • 1 large cauliflower, (1kg) with outer leaves left on;
  • 4 tablespoons dry sherry; 1 x 400 g tin of plum tomatoes;
  • 40 g flaked almonds; ½ a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley;
  • extra virgin olive oil.

Directions:                                                                                                                                       First, peel the garlic and add to a mortar and pestle with the paprika and half the thyme leaves and mash well together. Get rid of the leaves from the cauliflower, cut the stalk and cut out a cross into the base. Then rub the cauliflower with the paprika paste, sprinkle over the cauliflower with the sherry and then squeeze the lemon juice over it. Put everything into a deep plate, cover it and then put in an oven preheated to 180C for an hour and 20 minutes. TIP: Remove the lid for the final 20 minutes. After the cauliflower gets tender, take it out add the sliced plum tomatoes, sprinkle it over with the lemon zest and season with the remaining thyme leaves. Finally put the plate back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes. The cauliflower will be golden colored when finished. While the cauliflower is finishing, roast almonds on a medium heat setting until they become gold and add them to the cauliflower when the cauliflower is ready. Finish up by drizzling over the cauliflower dish with olive oil and scatter the parsley leaves on top. One rather beloved chef recommends serving it with rice pilaf and steamed greens. Click here to find the full recipe                                                                                                     

Butternut Squash stuffed with Chickpea, Sage & Bulghur Wheat

Ingredients:

  • 1 mini butternut squash; 1tsp smoked paprika;
  • 1 tsp thyme; 1 tsps. Olive Oil; Salt to taste.

and for the Stuffing:

  • 100g Bulghar wheat; 1/2 tin or 200g cooked chickpeas;
  • 1/4 cup white wine; 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped; 1 teaspoon bouillon/stock powder
  • 9-10 fresh sage leaves; Salt & Pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 260C. Halve the squash to get rid of the seeds and grease them with the paprika, thyme olive oil and salt. Put the baking paper on the tray and put the squash into the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Sauté on a frying pan garlic and onion sprinkled in oil until they become transparent, add sage leave and sauté until crispy. Add the bulgur wheat and coat with oil, then add some white wine, the bouillon, and 50ml of water, then wait until the bulgur absorbs the liquid. Finally, add the chick peas and keep them at a simmer for a few more minutes. Take out the squash and stuff it with the bulgur mix then put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes until it becomes squishy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Click here to find the full recipe

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