Zel Allen Offers Whole Foods, Plant-Based Recipes To Delight Your Guests
Expectations are high for holiday meals. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years – and all the parties and house guests in between – vegans may wonder how to satisfy friends, family, and co-workers while staying animal-free at the table. Health conscious eaters may be resigned to fatty, salty foods that lead to weight gain, heartburn, and a rush of guilt on New Year’s Day.
Enter Zel Allen with her original, satisfying, healthy recipes in Vegan For the Holidays. Zel, a cofounder of the popular site Vegetarians in Paradise, includes whole food, plant-based holiday recipes that will satisfy everyone who tastes them.
After a short discussion of each seasonal holiday, Zel offers a variety of ideas for a complete meal, from appetizers and soup through main dishes, side dishes, and dessert. Her use of spices is masterful. She includes suggestions for pretty garnishes to make the dishes visually appealing. Pages of beautiful color photos of many of the recipes show better than any words how stunning this food is.
Take a Culinary Holiday Journey
Some recipes are quick and simple, while others require the concentration and time you’d expect for the most special dinner of the year. In every case, Zel uses ingredients that are easy to shop for. Her instructions are clear and complete.
You can use Vegan For the Holidays as your guide for a culinary journey through November and December. Not familiar with Kwanzaa traditions? Plunge into the Kwanzaa recipes, such as Curried Pumpkin-Peanut Soup or Okra Creole. Want to celebrate a couple of the eight nights of Hanukkah? Try Mushroom-Barley Cholent, Carrot and Sweet Potato Tzimmes, or Beet Latkes. With such tempting recipes, you might end up cooking every night and beyond.
In fact, many of the Vegan For the Holidays recipe ingredients are available all winter. So don’t put the book aside right after your New Year’s celebration with New Year Logs in Spicy Pecan Gremolata. Keep on enjoying through the spring.
Married to the Same Man More Than a Half Century
I spoke with Zel, who has lived in California since the age of ten, about her background and how she came to write Vegan For the Holidays. Her husband Reuben has been her inspiration during her entire culinary career. “It surprises people to learn I’ve been married for 53 years. They often ask, “To the same person?” I always answer, “Yes, my sweetie is so special I consider him my soul-mate.” We have four fabulous kids,” Zel shares.
She grew up eating a “typical American diet” with lots of dairy, and ended up overweight. For health reasons, Zel and Reuben became vegan 22 years ago. Zel tells me the happy result. “To our delight, we both saw our weight and cholesterol plummet rather quickly and our energy levels increase almost immediately. The good news is that I am no longer plump!
Today, we often hear our friends and relatives talk about health problems, multiple doctor visits, and all the pills they need to take. We don’t
have the high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, digestive problems, constipation, and other ills that interfere with their quality of life.”
Zel and Reuben are totally committed to their nutritious vegan diet of veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds. They love all fruits and vegetables, and enjoy a wide variety of foods.
Launching Vegetarians in Paradise
I asked Zel about their Vegetarians in Paradise newsletter, which is also a rich source of fantastic recipes. “When Reuben and I started our vegan path, we began to feel a bit like oddballs. No one wanted to invite us for dinner because they didn’t have the foggiest idea of what to make for us. We knew it was time to seek others in the veg community and develop strong connections. We started our Vegetarians in Paradise web magazine in January 1999 with a few features like restaurant reviews, farmers’ markets, book reviews, and food history. As interest grew, so did our magazine features. Today we have an average of 100,000 visitors monthly and our subscriber list of 12,500 grows steadily.”
Zel shared her goals for her new book. “I love the challenge of inventing dishes that are unique, awesomely delicious, and also look irresistible. In creating Vegan for the Holidays, my ultimate goal was to give vegans a wealth of holiday dishes they can feel proud to bring to their holiday tables. We vegans need a few classic centerpiece recipes like Thanksgiving Phyllo Pie, Shiitake Tornadoes in
Cashew-Cream Sauce, and Pistachio and Sweet Pea Torte with Roasted-Tomato Aioli that take the place of the Thanksgiving turkey or the Christmas ham. I use water-sautéeing in many of the recipes to keep the fat content down. I began using this technique in the 1990s. My everyday cooking tends to be oil-free, with the exception of a small number of baked items that contain oil. Vegan for the Holidays is 80% oil-free. The few recipes made with oil fall mostly into the dessert category.”
Now you can meet Zel through the special recipes she has to share. Link to these pages with three of Zel’s delicious, healthy holiday recipes. Don’t miss out!
Intrigued? Now you can use our Whole Foods Blog Finder to target informative, fun postings on whole foods, plant-based diets. Quick information at no cost!
Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. The book describes an easy-to-follow diet built on a plant-based eating plan that can prevent, and even reverse, most chronic disease. Janice will have a lot of fun with Zel’s recipes.
Tags: Christmas, Hanukkah recipes, Kwanzaa recipes, New Year recipes, panforte, Reuben Allen, Thanksgiving recipes, Vegan for the Holidays, vegan recipes, Vegetarians in Paradise, whole foods plant-based recipes, Zel Allen