It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow and you’ve been invited to a potluck dinner. You’re panicking because a few months ago you adopted a vegan lifestyle and you don’t know what food to bring to the potluck for your omnivore friends. Sound familiar?Relax! It’s the holidays and you probably have enough stress in your life right now. No need to stress over food.
Every year I have a vegan potluck board game night at my home. This year, only one other guest was vegan; however, all the food was vegan. And, it was all eaten! We had butternut squash soup, wild rice salad, two types of hummus with rice crackers and raw veggies, corn chips with salsa and guacamole, chili, and several desserts: apple crumble, rice pudding, and chocolate truffles. As a Celiac, I challenged my friends to not only create vegan dishes, but to also make them gluten-free. And they succeeded! To top it off, we had vegan red wine. What? Not all wine is vegan??? More on that another time.
For now, to get you prepared for your potluck, here are three of my favourite home-made foods that I typically make for both vegans and omnivores.
Apple crumble. I love living where there are so many apple orchards. September to December is my favourite time to cook and bake with local apples. I just love the smell of apples baking. I’m a food and beverage manager for my full-time career and during the holiday season, apple crumble (or apple crisp, as it is also known), is the most popular dessert enjoyed by our guests. What is perfect about apple crumble is that you can make it vegan and gluten-free and omnivores won’t even know! My go-to recipe is from Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook, but the internet is overflowing with lots of options. Just search “gluten-free vegan apple crumble” and select one! I love how Angela’s recipe includes shredded coconut and chia seeds. There is so much you can add (try cranberries!) or remove from the recipes you find. Give it a try!
Wild rice salad. One of my favourite salads all year round. Honestly, I make this salad for almost every holiday dinner I go to. The recipe I love is from the Vegetarian Times and includes ingredients indigenous to North America: maple syrup, wild rice, cranberries, mint…
Ok so it may be expected that a vegan brings a salad to a potluck, but this salad is not “boring.” Trust me, it’s better than showing up with hummus and chips! Other than cooking the rice, it’s a quick recipe. I cook the rice the night before which gives it time to cool off before adding the rest of the ingredients. I do exclude the green onions, as part of me believes that raw onions just are not something you bring to a party. But it's your choice!
Rice pudding. Most vegan versions of this disputably Indian-origin dish contain coconut milk rather than dairy. My favourite recipe is from the cookbook The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O’Brien which calls for coconut milk. I’ve made the recipe with both canned condensed coconut milk, and coconut milk “drink” which comes in pour-able cartons. After trying both, I’ve stuck with using the drink-type coconut milk, because I always make more than needed and have leftovers which I leave in the fridge for a yummy breakfast for the next few days. The condensed coconut milk made the leftovers dry and I found that the pudding needed to be warmed up to get it creamy again. What I also love about this recipe is the use of fresh ginger and dates. There are many options for what type of rice to use. O’Brien’s recipe calls for Arborio, which creates a soft, thick and creamy taste. I haven’t tried other rice but do a quick internet search using the words “gluten-free, vegan, white rice pudding,” and you’ll see that others use different rice, including Basmati. Bring this dessert to the potluck cold, but, if you’re not shy, ask for a pot and use of the stove, and warm up the pudding on low. Add the cinnamon when you get there, which will produce a nice aroma in the kitchen. Have fun and enjoy watching your friends enjoy your creations. You don’t even have to tell them that it’s all gluten-free and vegan. They don’t need to know. Just enjoy the feeling that you cooked and baked with your vegan beliefs.
Rice pudding in the making! I love the smells in my kitchen when cooking.
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Angela Dawn Parker, MSc
Animal Geographer. Photographer. Adventurer. Perfectly Imperfect. Director of Roy and Cher's Rescue Farm