Favorite Vegetarian Holiday Dishes from Some of Canada’s Top Cooks

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Favourite Vegetarian Holiday Dishes from Some of Toronto’s Top Cooks

The holidays are a time when friends and family gather around the table to break bread together and catch up on news and gossip. Traditional holiday menus tend to be heavy on the meat, but with the rise in popularity of meat-free and plant-based meals, we thought it would be fun to offer some yummy recipes from some of Canada’s top cooks.

So here is a selection of favorite main courses and side dishes to delight your friends and family, and satisfy even the most discriminating guests.

Recipe: Stuffed Squash or Pumpkin

by Nettie Cronish, chef, author, and teacher

Recipe: Stuffed Squash or Pumpkin

Winter Squash stuffed with quinoa, mushrooms and onions.

The roots of harvest festivals go back to when people first grew food. Jewish people celebrated the Feast of the Tabernacles, ancient Greeks feasted in honour of the harvest goddess Demeter, and ancient Romans celebrated the goddess of grain, Ceres.

Holidays can be tough if you are a vegetarian or vegan. People associate specific foods with certain holidays, and those foods are as much a part of the holiday season as any other part of the observance. But, you can create new traditions! What’s new today will, in time, become tomorrow’s tradition.

The following dish can be served as a main course, or as a side dish alongside other vegetarian mains.


  • 3 acorn or butternut squashes, or small pumpkins
  • Olive oil (for basting)

1) Slice squashes in half vertically; remove seeds, fibres.

2) Baste with olive oil.

3) Place squash halves, cut side down, in a 13” x 9” inch parchment paper-lined baking pan.

4) Cover with parchment paper, and bake in a 400°F oven for 40 minutes, until fork tender.

5) While squash is baking, prepare stuffing.

Stuffing Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced, washed leeks
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup organic corn kernels
  • ½ cup tamari
  • 5 cups cubed wholewheat or gluten-free bread
  • ½ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, and thyme)

1) In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook leeks for 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, celery, and mushrooms; cook for 5 minutes.

2) Stir in corn, 2 Tbsp of the herb mixture, and tamari. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Stir in bread cubes and remainder of fresh herb mixture; toss until moistened.

3) Spoon stuffing into four baked squash halves, and serve.

Recipe: Alkaline Vegan Holiday Lasagna

by Natalie Prhat, CHN, author, blogger, and entrepreneur

Recipe: Alkaline Vegan Holiday Lasagna

Vegan Holiday Lasagna

It was my love for lasagna and transforming traditional meat-based dishes into vegan that inspired this recipe. And because most store-bought vegan cheese is not the most tasty, I decided it was best to omit the cheese completely and focus on flavour. This dish is a family favourite and always has my guests laughing in disbelief when they find out it’s 100% plant-based. This recipe is divided into four parts: 1) the chickpea walnut bolognese (the filling); 2) the sauce; 3) the lasagna noodles; and 4) the nutty lasagna topping.

Chickpea Walnut Bolognese Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¾ cup raw walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup of fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

In 375°F oven, toast walnuts for about 4 to 6 minutes. In a food processor, add cooked chickpeas, toasted walnuts, lime juice, onion powder, dried basil, sea salt, fresh parsley and olive oil. Pulse until mixture looks roughly ground. Set aside. (This mixture can be used as a ground beef substitute in any dish – I use it for tacos, pasta, or nachos.)

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 pack button mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 2 jars of Pure Edible’s Mediterranean Garden Pasta Sauce (730 mL each)
  • 1 package of Artisan Acres’ Kamut Lasagna Noodles (Cook noodles according to instructions on the package.)

To make the sauce, heat oil in a cast-iron pan, and add mushrooms and salt. Sauté for about 4 minutes on medium heat or until slightly golden brown. Add Chickpea Walnut Bolognese and Mediterranean Sauce and mix well. Let this mixture simmer for a few minutes on low heat. Set aside.


  • 1 package of Artisan Acres’ Kamut Lasagna Noodles (Cook noodles according to instructions on the package.)

In a lasagna pan, add ½ cup water plus one scoop of sauce to the bottom of pan. Then add a layer of lasagna noodles, then top that with 2 to 3 scoops of sauce. Then place a layer of noodles on top, then a layer of sauce and a layer of noodles, until you have 4 layers of noodles and sauce. Use up all the sauce. Then cover the dish and bake in a 400°F preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 10 more minutes uncovered, totalling 55 minutes in the oven. Before serving, add this yummy mix to the top:

Nutty Topping Ingredients:

  • ½ cup brazil nuts
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt

In a food processor combine brazil nuts, nutritional yeast, and salt. Sprinkle nut mixture over top of lasagna, along with a fresh basil leaf, and a drizzle of good-quality olive oil.

Recipe: Messy Gingered Sweet Potatoes

by Julie Daniluk, RHN, author, blogger, speaker, and cooking instructor

Recipe: Messy Gingered Sweet Potatoes

Messy Gingered Sweet Potatoes

These two delicious and easy recipes are from my bestselling book Hot Detox. The book details the healing benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda food theory. The three Hot Detox principles to keep in mind include: 1) Warm your food when it is cold outside; 2) Use warming spices (i.e., ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric) to heal the gut; 3) Enjoy more energetically warming foods (i.e., root vegetables and seeds). (Makes 6 servings).


  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 4 cups grated unpeeled sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp organic lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ – ½ tsp Herbamare herbed sea salt

1) Place the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat, and sauté the onions and ginger until soft, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the grated sweet potatoes and lemon juice. Reduce the heat to low and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sweet potatoes start to soften.

3) Season with the cinnamon and salt to taste. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve warm.

4) To add a protein punch to this recipe, add two eggs to the grated sweet potatoes and omit the lemon juice. Recipe will resemble latkes.

(Recipe reprinted with permission by Julie Daniluk RHN & HarperCollins © Hot Detox 2016.)

Recipe: Beet Cashew Dip

by Julie Daniluk, RHN

Recipe: Beet Cashew Dip

Julie Daniluk’s Beet Cashew Dip

Packed with vitamins A and C, this dip is a good source of dietary fibre, as well as iron and potassium. Due to its high fibre content, beetroot is great for supporting the digestive system, helping to prevent constipation and keep bowels healthy and regular. The iron content in beetroot means it’s good for those with anaemia and fatigue.


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups filtered water, for soaking the nuts and seeds
  • 2 cups cooked sliced beets
  • ½ cup organic lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup filtered water
  • 2 Tbsp organic balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp raw liquid honey
  • 2½ tsp Herbamare organic non-GMO herbed sea salt

1) Soak the cashews and sunflower seeds in 2 cups of water for 4 hours. Drain and rinse well.

2) Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.

(Recipe reprinted with permission by Julie Daniluk RHN & HarperCollins © Hot Detox 2016.)

Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

This soup and the Beet Apple Salad recipes were provided by the Veggie Challenge team at the Toronto Vegetarian Association, and Nimisha Raja, cooking instructor, writer, and speaker. Get your beta carotene and other antioxidants with this bright, warming soup. The ginger and spices will bring welcome aromas to the kitchen on a cold winter’s evening. This recipe freezes well, so can be made ahead of time. (Serves 4 – 6).


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced (include the peel)
  • Water or vegetable broth (2 to 3 cups)
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice (one lemon)
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish (optional)

1) In a large pot, heat a thin layer of water. When water is very hot, add onions and sauté for about 2 minutes until soft. Add cubed squash, carrots, apple and enough water or broth to cover an inch above the veggies, about 2 – 3 cups.

2) Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until vegetables are soft (test with a fork). Add coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon, garlic and lemon juice.

3) Purée with immersion hand blender until smooth.

4) Garnish with cilantro or parsley if using.

Recipe: Beet Apple Salad

This is a nice variation to a green salad. Beets are rich in iron and antioxidants. The lemon and orange juice in this recipe will help the diner absorb the iron in the beets. (Serves 4 – 6).


  • 1 lb (4 to 5 medium loose) beets, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup raw chopped walnuts
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 2 large navel oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice (one lemon)
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1) Mix grated beets, walnuts, apples, oranges, raisins and onion in a large bowl.

2) In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, salt, and pepper and pour over salad. If time allows, chill for a half hour or longer before serving. This salad gets better the longer it sits – so it’s a great make-ahead recipe for potlucks or visits with friends and family.

3) Variations: Substitute raw almonds, pecans, or sunflower seeds for walnuts. Add fresh chopped parsley as a garnish.


  • Nettie Cronish is a vegetarian chef, cookbook author and culinary instructor. Her sixth cookbook, Nourish, Whole Food Recipes featuring Seeds, Nuts & Beans (co-authored with Cara Rosenbloom, RD ) won Silver at the Canadian Cookbook Awards in the Health and Wellness category. She has taught cooking classes at The Big Carrot for 25 years and is a past board member of Fairtrade Canada. For more information visit her at: https://www.nettiecronish.com/
  • Natalie Prhat, Certified Holistic Nutritionist and owner of https://www.natalieprhat.com/ works with a passion and plan to help businesses deliver a plant-based experience to their customers. To teach people how easy it is for vegan food to have taste, Natalie’s projects and experience have inspired her to put together a plant-based cook book. Natalie’s ultimate vision is to uphold a limitless vacation experience with plant-based cuisine accessible worldwide. For this reason, Natalie works to inspire change in the travel industry in order for businesses to maximize on opportunity by responding to the exploding global demand for plant-based options. For more information on Natalie’s activities, visit:  https://www.natalieprhat.com/services-home-chefs
  • Nutritionist Julie Daniluk, RHN, is a graduate of the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. She hosts The Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in Canada, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Julie’s new book, Hot Detox, provides an easy and delicious way to cleanse. Combining groundbreaking science with ancient Asian wisdom, Hot Detox walks you through a 3-, 10-, or 21-day detox plan with amazing results. She has a 21-day course and extra book bonuses at www.HotDetox.com  Her bestselling book, Meals that Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free eating that tastes great and assists the body in the healing process. Julie is also an in-house nutrition expert on the Marilyn Denis Show (CTV). Connect with Julie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JulieDaniluk and check out her recipes and nutrition tips at www.juliedaniluk.com
  • The Toronto Vegetarian Association is Toronto’s go-to resource for all things veg. They host the Annual Veg Food Fest and the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off, they have a drop-in bookstore and library, and they run the Veggie Challenge program: a free, online 7-day program that provides a meal plan, nutritional tips, and recipes like these. Sign up for the 7-day Veggie Challenge on their website: www.veggiechallenge.com Or you can learn more about the outreach and volunteer programs offered at the Toronto Vegetarian Association by visiting their website at www.veg.ca

Julia Woodford founded Vitality Magazine in 1989, and has been its Editor-in-Chief for the past 35 years. Prior to a career in publishing, her studies included Political Economics at York University, Journalism at Ryerson, and Psychology, PhysEd, and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She remains a lifelong student of herbalism, nutritional medicine, and the healing arts to this day. You can read her columns on the Vitality website. She is also the former Show Manager for Whole Life Expo, Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and green living. In 2018 she received a “Hall of Fame” award from National Nutrition. In 2019, she was nominated for a “Person of the Year” award by National Nutrition.

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