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Turkey Alternatives for Vegetarian Families

Alyssa Simon • Oct 11, 2015

For Thanksgiving dinner, every family has their own traditions and ways of celebrating, but there are a few food items that most families have in common including pie, potatoes, cranberry sauces, and of course, the turkey.  Since many thanksgiving dishes revolve around the turkey, those who are vegetarian may feel that they are missing out on the main course and the primary source of protein. While the other thanksgiving dishes offer carbohydrates and fat, many lack protein, which makes up about 25% of the USDA MyPlate and is needed for a healthy, well balanced diet.

Luckily, there are many meatless alternatives for protein that vegetarian as well as their omnivore friends and family members can enjoy. Read below for some healthy meatless main-dishes for Thanksgiving!

  • Stuffed acorn squash. Acorn squash is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including fiber and potassium, an electrolyte that helps regulate blood pressure. Acorn squash can be eaten by itself, or it can be baked and “stuffed” with protein sources such as black beans, cheese, or soy. It also pairs great with Thanksgiving foods such as cranberry sauce and green bean casserole!

Apple, pecan, and soy stuffed acorn squash recipe:

  • Vegetarian shepherds pie. Traditional shepherds pie uses red meat as its source of protein, but vegetarian shepherds pies can pack protein as well! Alternatives to red meat can include soy crumbles, or soft beans such as lentils. Vegetarian shepherds pie already includes mashed potatoes, and would make a great addition to a Thanksgiving dinner.

Vegetarian shepherds pie recipe:

  • Quinoa-stuffed peppers. Although quinoa is a grain, it is also a source of protein. One cup of quinoa can have 8g of protein, and can easily be mixed with protein-packed beans and cheeses. Quinoa-stuffed peppers would pair well with Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

Quinoa-stuffed pepper recipe:    

  • Black bean, corn, and pumpkin stew. Pumpkin is usually found in pies on Thanksgiving, but the orange squash can also make a great addition to a stew or casserole! Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A, which is important for healthy eyes. Like the stuffed acorn squash, pumpkin can easily be mixed with black beans for a protein-packed entrée.

Black bean, corn, and pumpkin stew recipe:

  • Vegetarian pumpkin chili. Another use for pumpkin, aside from pie and stew, is in a chili. Chili’s are typically made with ground meat such as beef or turkey, but can easily be made vegetarian by using a variety of beans including kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils. Vegetarian pumpkin chili would be an excellent addition to Thanksgiving dinner and would pair great with rolls and green beans.

Vegetarian pumpkin chili recipe:

  • Barley, wild rice, and cranberry pilaf. Barley is a whole grain that, like quinoa, also provides protein. Combine barley with walnuts and dried cranberries for nutritious and Thanksgiving appropriate entrée! You can also use this pilaf as an addition to a stuffed squash, pepper, or portabella mushroom.

Barley, wild rice, and cranberry pilaf recipe:

If you or your family members are vegetarian and feel that they are missing out on the traditional turkey, there are also options for a vegetarian or vegan soy “turkey” that can be found in the frozen section of the grocery store.









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Written by Alyssa SimonWritten on Oct 11, 2015Last updated on Nov 04, 2015




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