If you're on a plant-based diet and looking for low-fat, plant-based, whole-food Christmas dinner recipes, we've got you covered! The holidays can be a tough time to stay on track with your diet.
The abundance of food around the neighborhood is there to tempt us, and it's hard not to indulge when everyone else is eating ham roasts and turkey dinners (especially if that's what you grew up on!)
That's why we put together this roundup full of low-fat, plant-based holiday dinner options so that you'll have no problem staying on track during the holidays while still enjoying all the fun festivities!
The Challenge of A Plant-Based Christmas Dinner
It's no secret that plant-based diets and classic Christmas don't exactly play nice together. When you think about a plant-based Christmas dinner, what comes to mind? Maybe a few slices of bread and some veggies for the side.
Well, it doesn't have to be that way! Eating plant-based does not mean giving up all your favorite foods; you just need to learn how to make them healthier for yourself!
The Hungry Holiday Season
But that's easier said than done. Think about how much of the holiday season is centered around food. From office parties to family gatherings, there's always something cooking! And whether it’s ham, cheeses, butter, turkeys, or pies, it's all Mastering Diabetes-unfriendly!
Getting Over Old Traditions
And that's without even getting into the fact that you might have grown up enjoying ice cream and gravy and whipped cream on your Christmas dessert. How can you possibly give that up and replace it with some plant-based version of those same things?
That's a big reason why most people struggle with sticking to a plant-based diet around Christmas. It's gotta be sacrilegious, right??
Well, it's not easy to let old habits pass by, but it is possible! You don't have to deprive yourself or feel left out during the holiday season. That's why we've put together this plant-based Christmas dinner menu – so you can enjoy all the deliciousness of the holiday while sticking to your plant-based diet!
Why Are We Even Doing This Anyway?
This question may have popped into your head, and it's worth taking a moment to remind yourself why exactly you're eating plant-based in the first place!
Historically Proven to Be Better For You
You can give back to yourself by eating plant-based meals. Dozens of studies have shown that there are some major risks associated with eating meat, including heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
And in fact, there have been dozens of studies showing that heavily plant-based diets improve your overall health and longevity, and you've got some strong reasons to stay plant-based!
Carbohydrates Are Delicious
One benefit of choosing to follow a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet is the fact that you can enjoy carbohydrate-rich foods. Ingredients such as apples, pomegranates, persimmons, sweet potatoes, kabocha squash, red lentils, quinoa and so many more are back on the menu.
Especially Important if You've Living With Diabetes
And if you're living with diabetes, going plant-based can be a literal lifesaver! The research has consistently shown that the secret to reducing your insulin resistance (the underlying cause of most diabetes complications) is a low-fat, plant-based diet high in natural carbohydrates. If you're eating plant-based, you're already most of the way there!
But That Doesn't Mean It's Not Hard!
And we get that! It's easy to feel like you're missing out over Christmas watching a festive feast filled with dairy and meats and sugars. Even Christmas pudding haters can start to feel jealous -- after all, you're telling yourself you can't have something, so of course, that makes you want it!
That's why we like to focus on an interesting part of eating plant-based -- no need for portion control!
The Green Light to Chow Down
Here at Mastering Diabetes, we've come up with a series of diet guidelines to help eat a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet that will help you reverse insulin resistance, improve your cardiovascular health, and provide a number of other health benefits.
We call it our green light, yellow light, red light series of guidelines, with one big emphasis -- you can eat green light foods ad libitum. That means as much as you want, whenever you want!
The Theory Behind Green Light
The theory behind green light foods is to give you the green light to enjoy them as much as you want. Too often, dietary guidelines are focused on being very restrictive, with a massive focus on calorie counting and portion control.
Fortunately, with the items on the green light list (which a VAST majority of plant-based item are), you don't need to worry! You can just snack away to your heart's content because each of these green light foods is fantastic for you!
No Christmas Portion Control Needed
So while it may not be rich in butter and fats and meats, that doesn't mean you can't make a sweet, delicious feast full of festive flavors that'll leave you stuffed to high heaven! And with these dairy-free, delicious recipes, you'll be able to clean off the Christmas table knowing that your Christmas menu was guilt-free, and good for your overall health!
Some of Our Impossibly Delicious Plant-Based Christmas Dinner Ideas
So without further ado, let's take a look at some of our favorite plant-based Christmas dinner recipes! Ready for the perfectChristmas dinner, one that'll make you lose yourself in the holiday celebration without ever feeling like you're missing something?
We even have low-fat, plant-based Christmas desserts!
Plant-Based Christmas Starters
To us, there's nothing that gets a holiday gathering started better than super creamy soup to cut the edge off of the cool weather outside and get you in the mood for a Christmas Party. And funnily enough, you can make some incredibly tasty, creamy soup with just sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and carrots -- no dairy milk needed.
Check out some of our favorites!
Squash and Sweet Potato Corn Chowder
The subtle sweetness of the squash, corn and sweet potatoes give this savory soup extra depth of flavor. It's a creamy, tasty option that will have your whole family asking for more!
Carrot and Ginger Soup
This easy-to-make one-pot soup is one of our favorites to prepare at any time of the year, but it's fresh, creamy flavor is an awesome start to a plant-based Christmas. The creaminess of the potato paired with the brightness of the citrus makes for a deliciously refreshing soup and can be served hot or cold.
Curried Red Lentil Soup
Shaking things up just a bit, this red lentil stew has the perfect balance of being spicy and subtly sweet, and it's best served on top of a bed of spinach. Who said you couldn't start off Christmas dinner with a little bit of a kick!
Plant-Based Christmas Recipes for Side Dishes
It's not hard to think of some classic plant-based side dishes -- mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, salads... But oftentimes without even realizing it these treats sneak in some red-light foods, like cream in the mashed potatoes, cheese in the salad, or bacon in the brussels sprouts.
And while your mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and salads can still be a great option with the right recipe, we've also included some items for the holiday table that will blow your mind!
Butternut Buddha Bowl with Black Beans
Buddha bowls are one of our favorite salad replacements. Rather than needing a heavy dressing or sneaky red-light additions to give them flavor, these delicious plant-based bowls use punchy butternut squash, roasted cauliflower, nut roasts, and interesting salad dressing alternatives for good food that non-plant-based and plant-based family members will both love!
Smoky Lentils with Kabocha Squash
Ever realized that "smoky" isn't just for meats? This warm, savory dish packs a punch with protein and fiber to keep you feeling satisfied for hours without feeling weighed down by meat and oil. And if you've never tried kabocha squash or smoked paprika, you're in for a real treat. You may want to make this dish all winter long!
Roasted Root Vegetables
Tasty, stackable, crunchy texture, and completely addictive. All you want for a great side and delicious plant-based comfort food! This recipe is full of roasted potatoes, roasted carrots (maybe even roasted garlic if you're feeling adventurous!) and makes for a robust side dish, main course, or even a snack as an easy starter.
Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
And we'd be remiss if we didn't include a classic salad option! This quinoa salad is simple yet satisfying, and it's a perfect dish to make in advance and serve chilled later! Add in homemade salad dressings and you've got a nice space to fill the salad most people expect at a Christmas party.
Plant-Based Christmas Dinner Recipes
Now here's where you're really going to be impressed. Everyone knows that when it comes to starters and sides, it's a little bit easier to make do with green light ingredients. But when it comes to serving a truly impressive plant-based Christmas dinner packed with festive flavors... well, that's where the expertise comes in!
And believe us, with these hearty plant-based Christmas recipes, you'll forget you ever thought about caving and eating meatloaf!
Sweet Potatoes and Lentil Stew
Lentil stew has the comfort of warm soup, made extra hearty and filling by the lentil base. Add in sweet potatoes and you've got a starchy, sweet, and delicious meal that'll stick to the ribs! Finally, the fresh rosemary and thyme in this recipe make it especially aromatic.
This is the perfect meal for a chilly Christmas, and has the style and substance to stand on its own as a fantastic centerpiece!
Pumpkin and White Bean Stew
This thick and hearty stew full of rich winter flavors is an iconic classic that's also perfect for a cold Christmas day. It goes especially well in a one-two punch with any of our other plant-based Christmas recipes, serving as a sweet and savory base to bounce some of the more punchy flavors off of!
Warming Winter Squash, Potatoes, and Lentils
And speaking of vibrant, interesting flavors, the warming winter squash, potatoes, and lentils above are the perfect base for some exciting spices! You'd be surprised how many natural spices are not only green light but also amazing for you!
A hearty, sweet, savory, and spicy bowl full of rich slow-cooked deliciousness? That's what we're talking about!
Stuffed Delicata Squash
And we get it, sometimes Christmas is as much about the presentation as it is about the palette. Delicata squash is absolutely the perfect base for plant-based Christmas recipes because that gap inside is just waiting to be stuffed with all sorts of delicious plant-based Christmas goodness.
Quinoa or sweet roasted potatoes are a great start for filling this fun main course, though a little bit of roasted garlic, carrots, bell pepper, and more can all be exactly what the doctor ordered!
Plant-Based Christmas Desserts
And it wouldn't be the best plant-based Christmas dinner you've ever had without some awesome, tasty treats with a healthy twist! Here are three of our ideas for how to bring your Christmas feast home with a bang!
And why not just enjoy them all?
Oatmeal Christmas Cookies
They're not shaped like Santa Claus or reindeer, but these cookies will definitely have you in the Christmas spirit! In fact, thanks to the natural sweeteners in fresh fruits, you might find that you love these plant-based options even more than their sugar-filled counterparts!
And don't worry if you're not a seasoned baker! These killer cookies are simple to make and bake in only 12 minutes -- one of the shortest prep times of any of our plant-based Christmas recipes.
Banana Nice Cream
And what should go on top of those cookies? Well, nothing else than the first of our creamy, delicious plant-based Christmas recipes for nice cream!
Banana nice cream is the PERFECT dessert. It tastes dreamily decadent, but it's 100% healthy. You can check out the variations we list below, or get creative with your own spin!
Mint Chocolate Nice Cream
And our second homage to ice cream (that tastes just as good as any classic American or traditional Italian dessert like ice cream/gelato) is our Mint Chocolate Nice cream. That's right, cacao -- and hot chocolate if you make it right -- are green light foods!
Tons of our friends that are plant-based eat what feels like buckets of this stuff at the end of their plant-based Christmas dinner!
And Our Community Is Just Getting Started
And this is just a start! Our favorite part about founding the Mastering Diabetes Method and helping assemble this community was that people around us have taken off, and given these dishes a life of their own.
We've seen options like:
It's so inspiring to see so many people coming together and discovering that even though they've chosen to eat plant-based, whether that's for weight-loss, heart disease, other conditions, or to fight diabetes, that there's a whole world of delicious foods to try!
Stay Tuned and Join the Community
If you'd like to learn more, you can check out the many articles below, or read more about the science behind our method.
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Mastering Diabetes has strict guidelines for scientific references in our articles. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, governmental organizations, and reputable medical organizations. We do our best to avoid using non evidence-based references in all articles. The references in this article are listed below.
Battaglia Richi, Evelyne, Beatrice Baumer, Beatrice Conrad, Roger Darioli, Alexandra Schmid, and Ulrich Keller. “Health Risks Associated with Meat Consumption: A Review of Epidemiological Studies.” International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. Internationale Zeitschrift Fur Vitamin- Und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal International De Vitaminologie Et De Nutrition 85, no. 1–2 (2015): 70–78. https://doi.org/10.1024/0300-9831/a000224.
“The Effects of Plant-Based Diets on the Body and the Brain: A Systematic Review.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6742661/.