Over 15 years ago early on in my professional soccer career, I learned of the devastating cruelty and abuse inherent in the dairy industry. I knew right away that I never wanted to contribute to that cruelty again. I did more research and learned of the health risks associated with consuming dairy products and how cutting out dairy could help improve both my health and athletic performance. From then on, I removed all animal products from my diet, and I’ve felt the benefits ever since. Now, serving delicious cruelty-free alternatives to friends and family has become both a passion and hobby of mine. And what better time than the holidays to invite those you love to explore all the amazing dairy-free options available today?
I’m hosting a Christmas Party this year and I can’t wait to serve all of these amazing dairy-free dishes to my guests! Put together a few festive beverages and you’re set!
Create Your Own Cheese Plate
One of my favorite vegan offerings to share is vegan cheese! It has come so far in the last few years, and the days of rubbery soy-based cheddar cheese are long gone. Today’s vegan cheese options are truly gourmet; they are made with nuts and aged to perfection, just like artisanal dairy cheese. Even the most skeptical cheese-lover will be impressed with the rich taste and texture of the vegan cheeses available today. To create a delicious and beautiful holiday cheese plate, pick four to five plant-based cheeses and assemble them on a tray with the pairings listed below. For the cheeses, try to have a selection of mild and pungent, soft and firm. Get creative, and have fun!
Candied and salted nuts
Preserves, jams, and savory chutneys
Raw veggie sticks
On to dessert! I love to bake, but I generally rely on the experts to create recipes. These three are a few of my favorites, and even the dairy-drinkers can’t get enough!
Peppermint Black Bean Brownies
These festive chocolatey treats are from the Minimalist Baker, one of my most trusted recipe resources. I’ve been hearing about black bean brownies for years now, but until this recipe came along, I was a bit hesitant to try them. Turns out, I was missing out! Not only do they taste amazing, they’re also high in protein and antioxidants thanks to the black beans. The addition of peppermint makes these over the top!
Get the recipe here.
Vanilla Bean Cranberry Swirl Bars
I made Bakerita’s No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit with the in-laws. Nothing says success like your father-in-law asking for seconds and thirds of a vegan cheesecake with no dairy and no refined sugar. These cranberry swirl bars have very similar ingredients to the cheesecake, so I’m confident they will disappear just as quickly. Plus, they’re no bake!
Get the recipe here.
Pecan Pie Tarts
These tarts are a hybrid I created from Making Thyme for Health’s pecan pie and the flaky vegan pastry crust from The Spruce Eats. One of my favorite holiday treats when I was a little kid was pecan pie. And for some reason, despite all the other amazing veganized desserts out there, finding a good vegan pecan pie has been tough. This one brings back the memories, though!
To make the tarts, I divided the recipes into small muffin tins and adjusted the baking time to 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Image Credits: Minimalist Baker, Bakerita, and Making Thyme for Health
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