By Christina Frazier and DRG
How better to celebrate Thanksgiving IndieFit-style than with a savory holiday veggie-loaf?
To stay on the up-and-up, I should tell you that most of us here at IndieFit Central are all about the turkey. That said, we also know that some people – especially those of us who sweat it out in the kitchen while Uncle Joe and Aunt Trudy chomp Brazil nuts and sip Cold Duck in the living room – get bored cooking the same old traditional turkey and dressing we’ve eaten every Thanksgiving since we were kids. We’ve mixed it up in the past by declaring, cuisine-wise, an Italian or Mexican or Chinese-themed holiday. But, in the end, these solutions fell flat. Despite our best attempts to guide our families and friends towards new culinary terrain, we missed the aroma of fresh sage and rosemary.
The solution? Even if you’re a rampant carnivore the other 364 days a year, this Thanksgiving go veggie! After all, its harvest season, and autumn vegetables and aromatics are at their peak in local markets. It’s a fun way to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal that’s healthy, steeped in holiday flavors and aromas you’d otherwise miss, and definitely a change from the usual focus on the bird. (The American wild turkey’s scientific name, if you were wondering, is Meleagris gallapavo). Also if you would rather eat no meat for the holidays than a cheap factory produced turkey raised on a diet of antibiotic-laced corn (factory turkeys eat corn not only to fatten up but also because workers chop off their beaks soon after they exit the incubator), a vegan loaf is a sustainable alternative that’s a lot less expensive than a high quality organic turkey that you might have to order weeks in advance.
First some loaf history. The original vegetarian holiday loaf – Tofurkey – was introduced to America in 1955 as a quick, tasty way for vegetarians to enjoy the holidays. Tofurkey’s inventor, Seth Tibbott, emulated the texture of turkey meat with the magical properties of soybeans, rather than using vital wheat gluten, the more common meat substitute of the day. The original Tofurkey sold for an eyepopping $30 and featured not two but eight faux gobbler legs! Over time the legs came off, stuffing and gravy mixes were added to the kit, and the price was slashed. Tofurkey’s still the king of vegan birds, but today it has competitors. What follows is a guide to several glorious veggie main courses that might be just what you need to wow (or worry) your Thanksgiving feasters, depending on their proclivity for the loaf.
The Magical Loaf Studio
Our first entry is not a loaf but an entire loaf studio! Regardless of your dietary requirements, the Magical Loaf Studio website (www.veganlunchbox.com/loaf_ studio.html), created by Jennifer McCann, has a loaf for you. Simply click through the screens of a short interview about ingredients (you’ll be asked to select your carbohydrate, protein, binder, and so forth) and voila! Out comes your customized loaf recipe.
Turk’y Roast by Quorn
The “meat” of this roast, and all Quorn products, is created by using a special mico-protein derived from fungus. (Like with sausage making, I think the less I know about how some of these products are made the better). Of all our loaves, this one has the most realistic meat texture. The flavor is mild – like real turkey – so you may need to jazz it up with spices and gravy. Leftover Turk’y can be used convincingly for sandwiches. It’s not vegan (they use egg whites and milk protein), but it’s a good choice for people avoiding gluten. Serves four.
Holiday Roast by Gardein
Gardein is a plant-based product developed 25 years ago by a French chef, although it’s relatively new to the US. Their Holiday Roast is made from a combination of non-GMO soy protein and grains (including wheat). The roast has a turkey-like exterior that’s filled with a hearty cranberry stuffing. The Gardein faux meat is, again, similar to turkey, and hence flavor-neutral, but with the two gravy packets and delicious stuffing it makes a fine roast. Serves four.
The original traditional faux turkey with the silly name is a holiday staple for many vegetarian homes. Tofurkey is a non-GMO, wheat and tofu based loaf with a flavorful rice-based stuffing that will infuse your kitchen with the herbaceous aroma of Thanksgiving at your grandmother’s house. This loaf comes with gravy, and optionally, an Amy’s Kitchen Chocolate Cake. The flavor is mild. Serves about four people.
Celebration Roast by Field Roast
Field Roast is the new kid on the block. Originating in 1997 in Seattle, Washington, out of all our loaves, the Celebration Roast best evokes the abundance of a true holiday cornucopia. The Field Roast is loaded with vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, spices, and even fruit (apples). The base is seitan (wheat gluten). Along with the savory stuffing, this dish is not bland, but some people think it’s a little too salty. The one-pound roast is small and serves two-three people.