Best Thanksgiving Meal Plans for Everyone – Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free

Making a holiday feast that satisfies everyone’s dietary needs can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be! We’ve searched the internet for the best Thanksgiving Meal Plans for everyone, including plans for Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free and Dairy-Free.

Don’t forget dessert! We’ve also included our favorite picks for Sugar-Free and Vegan desserts to make the holiday meal complete.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any way and based on personal opinion. Here at Edible Ink, we want to help make your holidays as best (and simple) as they can be, with no strings attached!

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Vegan Thanksgiving Menus

Mel at A Virtual Vegan goes above and beyond with her Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner Menu, including a shopping list to make preparations for the big day a breeze! Plus a timeline to make cooking a full feast manageable. Dishes include:

Get the full printable Thanksgiving Dinner Menu with Timeline and Shopping List at A Virtual Vegan.

group of people making toast
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

No doubt, large gatherings have been a rare occurrence this year. If your holidays are less grand feasts and more intimate dinners for two, the Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner for 2 may be your ideal menu. Set up as a “choose your own adventure’ of a menu complete with cooking tips, this meal plan is great for small gatherings, or just you and your significant other. Dishes include:

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Menu

Packed full of gluten-free Thanksgiving options, this Easy, Gluten-free Thanksgiving Menu satisfies every celiac’s holiday food cravings! Here, turkey is still on the menu, with modifications to cornbread, biscuits and gravy. Dishes include:

alcoholic beverages close up cuisine cutlery
Photo by Flo Dahm on Pexels.com

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu

Vegetarian food blogger Cookie and Kate provides a list of 33 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes to make your own meat-less feast. No need for Tofurkey with delicious, whole food dishes like:

food grapes delicious snacks
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Dairy Free Thanksgiving Menu

Nothing makes a lactose intolerant person happier than a big bowl of dairy free mashed potatoes! This list from Cook Nourish Bliss includes a slew of dairy free classic Thanksgiving sides, as well as a few dairy free Thanksgiving desserts. Dishes include:

For more dairy-free Thanksgiving side dishes, check out 19 Dairy Free Thanksgiving Side dishes from the Nosher:

Easy Thanksgiving Menu

How about a super simple Thanksgiving Menu this year? Instead of roasting the whole turkey, try a juicy Turkey Breast from A Head of Thyme. More recipes include:

person holding a roasted turkey
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels.com

Sugar Free Thanksgiving Desserts

For the ultimate list of sugar-free desserts, check out this compilation from Diabetic Gourmet. Recipes include:

Vegan & Gluten Free Thanksgiving Desserts

Easy, vegan, and for some, gluten free! This list of 28 Easy Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts is sure to have something for everyone. So go ahead, make two! Recipes include:

What are your Thanksgiving plans this year? Are you using any of the meal plans listed here to craft your ultimate Thanksgiving feast? Let us know in the comments below! Like, share and subscribe and don’t forget to tag Edible Ink!

Happy Feasting!

pile of assorted varieties of vegetables

4 Reasons to Eat More Plant-Based (Even if You Still Eat Meat) | Lifestyle

We all know eating your veggies is good for you. Let’s focus on some other reasons to incorporate more plant-based foods and meals into your life, even if you aren’t giving up meat.

I’ve always been fascinated with plant-based cooking. Since I’m lactose intolerant, and therefore don’t eat dairy, I often use vegan recipes as a way to satisfy my cheesy, creamy cravings.

Even if you aren’t all about going meatless, eating more plant-based foods and the occasional plant-based meals bring plenty of benefits. Here are just a few.

A baby oak tree in a beam of sunlight.
We love plants!

1. It’s affordable

Let’s be real. What’s more affordable: fresh produce, bulk grains and some canned beans or fresh meat? Despite what you might see at a local restaurant (for some reason, vegan dishes always seem to be pricey) buying raw ingredients and preparing a meal at home is more affordable when the emphasis is on plants, grains and legumes as opposed to meat.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe I used to make chickpea salad for lunch. I eat it on a piece of toasted bread, with some extra mayo (can easily do vegan mayo, if you’d like) and some leafy greens.

  • 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 3 tablespoons mayo of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon mustard of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish (optional)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 tsp of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Use a pastry cutter or potato masher to smash in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.

That’s it! Seriously!

How easy is that? It takes five minutes, and I use it as a quick and easy lunch while I’m working during the week. It’s full of protein (thanks chickpeas) and veggies. It’s an easy swap to make — instead of tuna, chicken or egg, use chickpeas!

2. It’s better for the environment

Believe it or not, eating more plant-based helps the environment. Here’s one example, a comparison of the resources used to produce dairy milk verses popular plant-based milk alternatives. By far, dairy milk produces more emissions, uses more land and more water than any of the plant-based milk alternatives.

It’s not hard to tell — animals take more resources to raise than plants. By eating less meat, and being selective about where and how you obtain that meat, you can help support a more economical food cycle.

To further optimize your plant-based eating, consider starting a compost pile. Particularly useful if you have a garden, compost is a great way to eliminate waste. Read more about how compost helps you and the environment in my post “Zero Waste Kitchen”.

3. It’s delicious – despite what some people say

All that said, plant-based dishes CAN be and ARE delicious. There are a multitude of ways to learn to cook vegetables in delicious ways. Some of my favorite real-life inspiration comes from a restaurant in my area called Industrial Eats. They can take a humble vegetable and elevate it into a dish unto itself, not a mere side.

Perhaps that’s the key — we must treat plants like the stars that they are, instead of an obligatory side dish “for our health.” YES vegetables are good for you, but that doesn’t mean they have to taste bad! It’s okay to enjoy a vegetable dish, to fancy it up.

A plant-based dish from Industrial Eats. Vadouvan, cashews, spinach, cauliflower.

It’s time to break the association of a vegetable as simply being a tasteless item you eat for the sake of health. Where’s the fun, the enjoyment in that? Vegetables can (and often are) as delicious as any other dish you can have. Though make no mistake — I’m not suggesting you throw out all your dry pasta and replace it with spaghetti squash. It’s about integrating vegetables into your meals, so maybe adding some extra eggplant, zuchinni, mushrooms or tomatoes to your pasta instead. Or, enjoy your pasta exactly as you’d like it, with a tasty roasted vegetable dish on the side.

4. Plant-based is a great practice in mindful eating

Strengthen your immune system, fill your body with essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients without spending hundreds of dollars on fancy powders, shakes and diets. Diet culture will try to tell you that you need to purchase special products to be healthy. That’s not true. Unless specifically directed by a doctor or dietitian to follow a certain diet, and include/exclude certain foods, eating more plant-based is only going to help, not harm, you.

Of course, we know that everyone is different. That’s good! This is not about being extreme or exclusive. It’s about being concious about what you’re consuming, how you’re consuming it and what it took to produce it.

Grocery shopping can be a dissociative experience. We don’t see the months that went into growing that head of cauliflower, all we see are dozens of individually wrapped heads of cauliflower in the produce section. Just like we don’t see the slaughterhouse, all we see is the ruby red steaks. Being mindful of our food, where it comes from, and how that process ultimately effects what we put in our body requires a conscious effort. Though I believe, it’s one that begets a deeper appreciation for the farm workers who are out 6 days a week, in rain, heat and falling ash (I’m in California, ok) to put food on our tables.

How to get started eating more plant-based

Sometimes the best way to make a lasting change is to start slowly. Adding more vegetables to your meals, making them the centerpiece instead of meat, is one simple change. Here are some other ways.

Infographic by Edible Ink. Information Source Harvard Health

Vegan blogs that will change your cooking and your life

Here are four of my favorite vegan guides to get started incorporating more plant-based eating into your life. Cooking vegan dishes will broaden your knowledge of cooking, ingredients, flavors and how to make the most out of what you have. Take a look at each of their websites. I’ve highlighted a dish from each that looked particularly appealing!

A Virtual Vegan — Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

So many delicious comfort food recipes. Inventive and tasty. Also see these Sweet Potato Biscuits.

It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken — Stuffed Acorn Squash

My go-to source for plant-based cheeses. The mac-n-cheese powder is a staple for me!

variety of vegetables
Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

Vegan Richa — Cajun Spiced Black Bean Quinoa Burger

I’m a big fan of a good veggie burger. See also this Za’atar Spiced Chickpea burger!

burger on blue ceramic plate
Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

Cookie and Kate — Veggie Sesame Noodles

A vegetarian blog that produces lots of great plant-based recipes as well. Check out this Layered Panzanella, to eat your veggies and your bread too!

close up photo of cooked pasta
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Plant-based cooking requires a wide knowledge of ingredients and creativity in the kitchen. Cooking plant-based limits what you can use but it also expands your abilities, making you use the most of what you have in new ways. You may surprise yourself with what you can create when your options change from what you are accustomed to!

How do you feel about eating plant-based? What did you learn today? Let me know in the comments below!

Pasta with Kale and Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) | Recipe

Light and refreshing, Chickpea & Kale Pasta contains no dairy OR tomato sauce (only a dab or two of tomato paste). Olive oil and seasonings allow the pan-fried chickpeas and kale to shine in this dish.

The Bean with Two Names

a bag of chickpeas aka garbanzo beans

Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) contain a plethora of nutritional benefits. In one cup (200 grams) of chickpeas you’ll get:

  • Protein – 39 grams (78% Daily Value)
  • Dietary Fiber – 35 grams (140% Daily Value)
  • Magnesium – 57% Daily Value
  • Vitamin B-6 – 55% Daily Value
  • Iron – 69% Daily Value

Chickpeas are particularly desirable in that they contain carbohydrates, protein and fiber — which means they actually fill you up while giving your body a boost of nutrients.

Such an impressive, versatile bean seems worthy of two names. Garbanzo comes from the Spanish name for the bean; while chickpea has Latin roots in the word “cicer.”

More on chickpeas here.

Kale the Leafy Green Giant

Kale is often associated as being a “superfood,” simply meaning it contains a slew of nutrients and vitamins essential to our diets. One cup (67 grams) of chopped kale packs quite the punch:

A bundle of kale.
  • Vitamin A – 206% Daily Value
  • Vitamin C – 134% Daily Value
  • Vitamin K – 684% Daily Value
  • Magnese – 26% Daily Value

Previous iterations of kale blended in a smoothie or served as a salad may have deterred you from enjoying this leafy green powerhouse. Fortunately, this recipe serves the kale up sauteed in spices, which helps to break down its fibrous tough texture and allows it to absorb the flavors of the dish.

If this pasta recipe isn’t enough to convince you kale is not the enemy, read up on the full benefits of kale here.

Kale and Chickpea pasta in the pan

One Pot Pasta — The Right Way

This Chickpea & Kale pasta is nearly a one pot meal. Sauté the kale and chickpeas in a cast iron skillet (or stainless steel pan) to cultivate the flavors and begin the simple sauce. The pasta boils in a separate pot, and is added directly to the skillet with the vegetables.

The dish comes together easily and makes enough to serve 2 people as a main course. I recommend serving with a side of mixed greens for a complete meal!

Though dairy-free, this pasta does not lack flavor. Nutritional Yeast (parmesan cheese can be used as a dairy-ful substitute) lends its cheesy flavor and chickpeas their creamy texture balanced by the brightness of lemon zest and the fresh green of kale.

INGREDIENTS

Kale and Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Pasta

A delicious one-pan pasta that makes for a quick vegetarian weeknight meal packed with essential vitamins and nutrients.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small can (15 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • cups dried pasta shells, bowties or elbows
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed.
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast substitute ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups tightly packed kale, trimmed and de-ribbed
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as needed.
  • Zest of one small lemon.

Instructions
 

  • Peel and chop the garlic. Wash and derib the kale and roughly chop. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Zest the lemon. Set aside all ingredients until ready to use.
  • Fill a pot with water for the paste. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Have your pasta ready to add to the water once it boils. While waiting for the water to boil, proceed with the steps below. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron, but stainless steel also works) over medium heat coat with olive oil. Add rosemary. Sauté for 3 minutes, then add tomato paste and chopped garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add chickpeas to the pan, along with salt, pepper, kale, capers, optional hot sauce and ¼ cup water. Lower heat and cover, allowing to simmer for 10 minutes and stirring occassionally. The kale should wilt and get brighter in color.
  • Add pasta to the pan with kale and chickpeas. Sprinkle Nutritional Yeast, or parmesan cheese, depending on your preference. Add lemon zest. Drizzle with olive oil and mix until well-combined.
  • Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, if desired.

Notes

*KALE: I used Kale for Cooking from Trader Joe’s. I like using this because it’s prechopped and prepackaged. It requires minimal effort, just some picking out of larger stems. However, you are welcome to use any kale you choose, just don’t forget to wash and derib before adding to recipe. 
*TOMATO PASTE: You definitely won’t use an entire can of tomato paste in this recipe. I recommend buying the tomato paste that comes in a tube, since it’s easier to store and use as needed. Or, use this simple hack: Empty out an ice cube tray. Scoop tomato paste into ice cube tray. Freeze overnight. Break tomato paste out of ice cube tray and store in a plastic bag in the freezer until ready to use. You’ll never waste your tomato paste again!
Keyword chickpeas, dairy free pasta, easy pasta recipe, easy weeknight dinner, garbanzo beans, kale, pasta recipe, vegetarian pasta

Meal Prep, Veggie-Packed, Spring Harvest Rice | Recipe

Warning: This recipe is a large batch.

Of course, that’s the point! Make this recipe on a Sunday and snack on this delicious rice throughout the week.

This is a meal prep recipe that can easily be adapted to supplement different proteins and side dishes throughout the week, or to be used as is for a delicious and healthy meal prep lunch!

It’s flavor profile is flexible and truly can be made into a side dish or entree with anything. Similar to Spanish Rice, Spring Harvest Rice uses fresh tomatoes and a plethora of vegetables and spices.

See the recipe notes below for three ideas to turn this star side dish into the main event.

Make as is and this will yield about 10 cups of nutrient-rich rice.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups cooked white or brown rice (3 cups uncooked).
  • 3 tablespoons Oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Sunflower Oil).
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced.
  • 1 yellow onion, diced.
  • 1 tablespoon salt.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 4 cups fresh tomato, diced (substitute: canned).
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced.
  • 1 lb frozen peas.
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence (substitute: 1/2 tsp oregano and 1/2 tsp basil).
  • 1 tsp black pepper.
  • 1 tsp parsley, dried.
  • 1 tsp onion powder.
  • 1 tsp garlic powder.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika.
  • 1/4 tsp cumin.

DIRECTIONS

1. First, cook your rice. I prefer cooking rice in my Instant Pot, but you are welcome to use any method you like, including microwaved steamed rice! For this recipe, make sure it’s unseasoned rice. Brown or white is fine. You can also substitute couscous, farro or barley (cook according to package directions).

2. In a large pot, heat the 3 Tablespoons oil. Add diced onion, garlic, red and green bell peppers. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes. Simmer uncovered over medium heat about 30-40 minutes, until tomatoes are cooked down and there is minimal liquid left in pot. Simply put, it should look less like tomato sauce and more like a big pot of sautéed vegetables.

4. Add all the spices and mix well to incorporate. Turn the heat from medium high to medium and add the bag of frozen peas. Mix to incorporate and defrost the peas.

5. Add the rice 1-2 cups at a time, mixing well to incorporate. Be sure to break up the chunks of rice to blend with the vegetables. Repeat the process until all of the cooked rice is added to the vegetables. Complete!

SPRING HARVEST RICE THREE WAYS:

1. Serve with shredded rotisserie chicken for an easy weeknight dinner.

2. Wrap rice with black or refried beans in a flour tortilla topped with shredded cheese for an easy vegetarian burrito.

3. Fry up a few cups of rice in a hot oiled pan. Add two to three scrambled eggs. Serve as vegetable fried rice alongside cooked steak.