Plant-based Healthy Holiday Cooking

One of our chefs Nadia shares her tips and recipes for plant-based healthy holiday cooking. Check out Nadia’s profile here and try out her tips and recipes below. Nadia is a trained plant-based nutritionist, so if you’re looking for healthy holiday foods, get in touch with her! Her cooking class would be a great start.

The holidays are a happy time of year where we share and create happy memories with our loved ones. For those who eat a plant-based diet, it’s also an amazing time to share the delicious comfort foods you eat.

A plant-based diet includes a variety of vegetables, greens, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The diet limits or excludes meat, dairy, oils, sugar, and processed foods. There is decades worth of evidence-based research from countless sources showing that this diet lowers the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.  There are also many who choose to eat plant-based or vegan for ethical and environmental reasons. 

Holidays and family gatherings tend to be centered around food. Whether it’s turkey, mashed potatoes, or holiday cookies, it is all laden with tons of butter, dairy, and sugar. For anyone trying to eat healthy and not wanting to pack on those holiday pounds, it is a tough few months!  

To help you successfully stay on track this holiday season, here are a few of my favorite tips:

  • Bring a delicious healthy meal to share. Show others that eating a healthier meal doesn’t mean depriving yourself. 
  • A few easy food swaps include using coconut milk instead of dairy, vegetable broth instead of a meat-based broth, and using the leftover boiled potato “water” instead of butter in mashed potatoes.
  • If you’re going to a holiday party, eat something before you go so that you’re less likely to indulge.
  • Keep a positive mindset. Focus on what you can eat, not on what you can’t eat!
  • Start a new fun family tradition like entering a Thanksgiving, or “Turkey Trot” 5K

Need some food inspiration? Check out two of my favorite plant-based recipes for the holidays!

Apple Pecan Salad

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1/4-1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 7 ounces arugula
  • 1 tart apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 sweet red apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 pinch each sea salt and black pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 F.
  2. On a baking sheet, add raw pecans and bake for 8-10 minutes. This will bake much faster in a air fryer or toaster oven so watch carefully that the pecans don’t burn. In the air fryer/toaster oven, it may be done in 2-3 minutes.
  3. Bake until pecans are a deep brown and fragrant (but not burned!). Remove from oven and then immediately remove from pan.
  4. While your pecans are baking, in a large serving bowl, add arugula, sliced apples, sliced onions, and cranberries.
  5. In a jar, add dressing ingredients to a jar and shake until well combined.
  6. Add pecans to salad and dressing. Toss to combine.
  7. Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors meld together. Enjoy!

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Minimalist Baker


  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown or green lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 4 cups low-salt vegetable stock (oil-free if possible)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 10-ounce bag frozen mixed veggies: peas, carrots, green beans, and corn

Mashed Potatoes:

  • 3 pounds yukon gold potatoes, partially peeled and washed
  • 3-4 Tbsp vegan butter, leftover potato “water”, or almond milk (use more for creamier consistency)
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper (to taste)


  1. Cube potatoes, place in a large pot and fill with water until potatoes are covered.
  2. Bring to a boil, add salt, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Check for doneness after 20 minutes by inserting a fork or knife through potatoes. If the knife doesn’t insert easily, cook longer until done.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly oil a 2 quart baking dish with avocado oil or vegan butter.
  4. On the stovetop, heat ¼ cup water on medium in a large pan. Saute onions and garlic for 5-8 minutes until lightly browned.
  5. Add lentils, vegetable stock, thyme, sea salt, and pepper to pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover pot. After 25 minutes, add frozen vegetables. Total cook time is 35-40 minutes until lentils are cooked through and tender. 
  6. Once potatoes are cooked, remove potatoes but save the potato water for step 7.
  7. Add potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add vegan butter or potato water (if oil-free), salt, and pepper. Use a masher or fork until you get the consistency and taste you’re happy with. Adjust seasonings and butter/water.
  8. When lentils and potatoes are done, add lentil mixture to your baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes. Use a fork to smooth it down. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
  9. Place dish on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until mashed potatoes are lightly browned.

Nadia Quraishi, CL.N. of Nourished by Nadia is a Holistic Nutritionist and also Plant-based Certified from eCornell and T. Colin Campbell for Nutrition Studies. Her mission is to spread awareness about the benefits of a whole foods diet.  Using evidence-based nutrition, she helps her clients transition to eating a healthier lifestyle. Nadia also teaches fun plant-based cooking classes in New Jersey. These classes are perfect for a fun night out or a corporate team-building activity. 
To learn more about Nadia’s services and products, please visit For her upcoming monthly cooking classes, visit

Published by nivi

Founder - Chef Mi Casa, problem solver, food lover

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