Meal Prep Monday: Thanksgiving Redux

I’m having fun with these meal prep posts, so I thought I’d make it more of a regular thing here on AlmostVegGirlie!

This week’s edition is a bit of a throwback to Thanksgiving, because I made a couple recipes that are pretty Thanksgiving-y, but the best part is that they don’t require T-day leftovers to make. You can make these recipes whenever you have a craving for some traditional Thanksgiving eats, and they’re pretty adaptable to any diet–vegan, gluten free, grain free and no added sugar!

Groceries

Pantry staple from Natural Grocers and Whole Foods.

Pantry staples from Natural Grocers and Whole Foods.

Luckily I was able to brave the below-freezing temperatures and snow to get to the grocery stores on Friday. I stopped at Natural Grocers for a few things and spent under $20, and then hit up Whole Foods and spent around $55. I finally restocked my bean pasta (I got the mung bean variety this time, and it’s just as good as the black bean), got my new favorite stevia chocolate chips and some weekly staples like no-salt added beans, fresh ground PB and raisins.

Produce from Whole Foods.

Produce from Whole Foods.

Whole Foods had some pretty great deals on produce this week, with avocados 4 for $5 (I got 2), organic pomegranates 2 for $5 (I got 1) and Ataulfo mangoes 2 for $3 (I got 2). And I got my usuals, like bananas, romaine hearts and yams.

Groceries for recipes.

Groceries for recipes.

I also stocked up on some things I needed for recipes I planned on making this weekend. I still have been eating mostly no-sugar-added by default (not saying this will last forever, or even for the 3 weeks I planned on doing it for) as it’s just what I’ve been feeling lately, so I finally bought some date sugar to try out in dessert recipes. I love sweetening things with dates anyway, and date sugar will work better in things that call for cane sugar, so I can’t wait to give it a try.

Meals

Grain free apple cran stuffing, made with the best grain free bread I've ever made.

Grain free apple cran stuffing, made with the best grain free bread I’ve ever made.

The Thanksgiving plate. Thanksgiving veggie burger topped with homemade cranberry chia jam on a bed of spinach. Side of grain free apple cran stuffing.

The Thanksgiving plate. Thanksgiving veggie burger topped with homemade cranberry chia jam on a bed of spinach. Side of grain free apple cran stuffing.

I know I said that Thanksgiving is a not-so-exciting holiday for plant-based eaters, but for some reason I was really craving Thanksgiving flavors this week. It all started when I bookmarked this recipe for paleo-friendly stuffing, and when I realized it could easily be made vegan, I decided to give it a shot. However, I changed it up a lot based on what I had on hand and what I could find in the store, so I’m going to share my recipe here, along with my recipe for a Thanksgiving-inspired veggie burger.

Grain Free Cran Apple Stuffing (vegan, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

Bread

1/3 cup almond meal

2 tbsp coconut flour

1 tsp xanthan gum (can sub guar gum)

1/4 cup tapioca starch (can sub arrowroot)

1/2 tsp baking soda

Himalayan pink sea salt, to taste (I only used a pinch)

1 tbsp almond oil (can sub olive oil, or another nut/seed oil)

1/2 cup water

Stuffing

1/4 cup apple-juice sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 6 oz box of 100% apple juice (like the kid’s size apple juice)

almond or coconut oil, for sauteeing

4 stalks celery, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

2 tsp fresh ginger, minced

cinnamon, pink sea salt and other spices, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F (at a higher altitude, heat to 425). Grease a sheet of foil with coconut oil, and place foil on cookie sheet. In a bowl, whisk almond meal, coconut flour, xanthan gum, tapioca starch, baking soda and sea salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together water and almond oil, and stir in with dry ingredients. Keep mixing until ingredients come together and are a bit sticky. Spread dough out onto greased foil, and spread thin, about 1/2 an inch thick. Drizzle a little almond oil on top, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until bread starts to brown. Set aside to cool and harden a little, for about 10 minutes.

Lower the oven’s heat to 350 F. Once bread has cooled, tear or chop into small chunks, and place in a coconut oil-greased baking dish. In a pan on the stove over medium heat, saute the almond oil with celery and garlic, until softened. Add in spices, dried cranberries and apple juice, and continue to cook until mixture is fragrant and starts to thicken. Remove from heat, and carefully pour over bread chunks. Mix all ingredients gently, then cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

So you understand just how good the bread part of this stuffing is, I made a second batch of it the next day, this time sprinkling it with cinnamon and date sugar before baking…and I ate several pieces of it the same day. I don’t know how, but this bread has the doughiness and taste of a regular bread without any grains in it at all! That’s why I love experimenting with grain free baking–it’s so different from regular baking (especially doing it without any eggs) but when I finally figure out something that works, it feels amazing. Total nerd status, but I just love cooking!

I was going to share the recipe for the Thanksgiving veggie burger, but while the taste was spot-on, the texture was not. I’ve yet to make a perfect veggie burger–one that tastes good AND holds together without the use of an egg or breadcrumbs. I definitely don’t mind veggie burger crumbs, but they don’t exactly make a great recipe. I can direct you to the recipe I adapted for mine though, on the Post Punk Kitchen site. That one uses lentils as the base, which I would have done if I wasn’t lazy and had time to cook some lentils from scratch.

What’s your favorite flavor of Thanksgiving (traditional or not)? Any tips for making a good veggie burger that holds together well?

Confessions

Confession #1: I haven’t posted on here in…ummmm…almost a month. The time has just gotten away from me, between waiting for my computer to get fixed (the one downfall of having a tablet without a bluetooth keyboard is that writing blog posts was torture), getting through the first 3 weeks of my last semester of school and all the craziness that’s ensued since that. But I’ll discuss that below! Point is, I’ve missed blogging regularly BUT I can’t promise I’ll be back to it anytime soon.

Confession #2: I’ve been doing a LOT of online shopping lately. It’s my weakness, but as long as I don’t let it get out of control (and try to keep it to the ‘necessities’) then I don’t see anything wrong with a little retail therapy.

My first order from Nuts.com! They have a lot of awesome raw snacks and superfood-type stuff for cheaper than in stores.

My first order from Nuts.com! They have a lot of awesome raw snacks and superfood-type stuff for cheaper than in stores.

Confession #3: I think I may be (almost) ready for fall weather. Since early last week, it’s been a little cooler and a lot rainier than average for this time of the year, and it’s been nice to not be sweating in my apartment when the A/C hasn’t kicked in yet. I still love summer, but I want to start wearing boots and scarves! The cold weather and snow can stay far away though, I’m happy with sunny skies and 70 degrees.

Confession #4: I feel so so guilty for the floods in my state. If you haven’t heard, Colorado has been dealing with extreme flooding since late last week. It’s hit most of the state, including my hometown and where I’m living for school, but I’m incredibly lucky to not have experienced any loss or damage from the floods. It just makes me so sad to hear about the hundreds of people still unaccounted for, the people who have unfortunately died in the aftermath and the damage caused to some of my favorite places in this beautiful state I call home. I’ve been blessed enough to have escaped three natural disasters in my area in the past 2 years, and seeing all this destruction and loss really hits home for me how precious life is. Please keep Colorado in your thoughts and remember to tell your family and friends how loved they are, because you never know what could happen at a moment’s notice.

One of my favorite vacation spots in CO is under a lot of water.

One of my favorite vacation spots in CO is under a lot of water.

Confession #5: Senioritis has been hitting me HARD. I didn’t really have it much my senior year of high school, but now that I’m on my last semester of school ever, I’m so unmotivated, yet more inspired at the same time. Like I’m getting more frustrated in group projects when people don’t do their part, because I need to graduate in December, yet I really dread doing readings and taking notes. Just 3 more months…I can do this!

Confession #6: I’ve technically been a vegetarian for the past 2 weeks. I announced via Twitter a few weeks back that I wanted to reintroduce eggs into my diet. I’ve never liked eggs, like ever, but I know that they’re basically a nutrient powerhouse, and I was sick of missing out on certain recipes because they contained eggs. However, after these 2 weeks, I think I’ll probably go back to veganism. I’ve tried egg whites in a few recipes that ended up as total flops (coconut flour waffles = epic fail) and even the one that did work tasted really eggy to me. Ehhh, you win some, you lose some. However, I have yet to try eggs straight up, but I plan on buying some local, free range eggs this weekend from Whole Foods and I’ll let you know the verdict! (P.S. Julian Bakery paleo bread will probably be my one exception to the veganism thing–it’s so good, fiber-full and packed with protein and simple ingredients).

See those egg whites hiding in my Whole Foods haul?

See those egg whites hiding in my Whole Foods haul?

Confession #6: I love my hipster glasses. Best $15 investment. Ever.

I'm guilty of the car selfies (not while driving).

I’m guilty of the car selfies (not while driving).

Confession #7: I still haven’t gotten around to transitioning this blog over to my new one. Whoops. I also have several recipes I want to post (and I don’t want to miss out on Vegan MoFo completely) but I’ve just been too busy. I never want to promise posts or recipes because I know I might not deliver on that promise, but I need something to motivate me to actually do it!

What are your confessions?