Thanks-vegan Fun!

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The holidays are already upon us!
And it’s time to give thanks for all we have and all we hold dear.  At Ask Dr Garland we’re thankful for YOU, our faithful customers, who have made it your personal goal to eat healthier.

We have a funny Thanksgiving story to share with you, as well as fantastic plant-strong recipes and several handy tips for cooking and baking plant-strong.

Do any of you enjoy Thanksgiving as much as I do?
This is my favorite time of the year! Time for cooking, spending precious time with family, friends, watching football games, playing board games and eating all the delicious foods which we’ve waited 364 days to enjoy.

No other holiday is so centrally based around food.

You can eat healthy over the holiday season without giving up great taste and packing on the pounds. The holidays are about celebration, not deprivation.  With planning and preparation there’s no need to give up delicious eats.

If you are new to plant-strong lifestyle…don’t worry we will get through this together. Relax! Breathe!

You can have an amazing holiday feast and eat vegetarian, all at the same time!  We would like to assist you with making a great meal that’s healthy and tasty for you and your family! Creating new food traditions now will hopefully propel your family to carry them on for generations to come.

Whether you believe it or not, most of our loved ones are not even aware we’ve used healthy alternatives while creating their favorite dishes. If we don’t say anything they won’t know.!

It tickles me to hear people “oohhhh” and “aahhh” over something I’ve made. Then, when they learn what it was you hear, “I never thought it would taste so good”.  I generally wait until my friends or family have had seconds before I disclose the ingredients!

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from the two generations before me is no matter what you cook, season your food to enhance the flavors.  It makes a difference to all dishes.

Remember… no one likes the taste of cardboard.

What’s your family’s favorite Thanksgiving recipe?  Send it to us and let us turn it into a fabulous healthier version. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving tradition?  We would love to hear your stories.

Here’s to our journey!

Editor of Our Community Kitchen

It’s Thanksgiving-Let the Fun Begin!
If you’re a long-standing vegetarian, you likely have favorite dishes for this holiday.  But what if you’re new to vegetarian-style eating? What are you supposed to do? – not cook a turkey? What are we going to eat? – just the side dishes?  That doesn’t sound like much of a holiday feast.

We encourage you to try re-creating your holiday feast – vegetarian style!  If it goes over great, wonderful!  If is fails miserably, you will have a really good, funny story to share about your first endeavor into the vegetarian holiday chaos. And it will be just your first endeavor, because as you eat more healthfully, you will discover amazing ways to re-create your holiday traditions. You don’t have to do it all at once! Gradually works just as well.

The Aychman Family’s First Vegetarian Thanksgiving Story
We’d been vegetarian for all of seven weeks, when the holiday rolled around. Naturally, I found myself wondering, “What am I going to feed my family?”

It was my moment of truth, do I stick to it or cave under the holiday pressure. I’m proud to say, I didn’t cave, well, kinda.

A photo of Laura AychmanI went to our local health food market and found the Tofurky Roasted thingy – and I hesitated.

What if this tastes awful? I’ll ruin Thanksgiving.

I bought it anyway. In an effort to hide my new healthy dinner, I put the roast way back in the freezer. Here’s a nifty hint ladies – defrost the roast for at least a few days prior to cooking.

So the Big Day arrives and I am the only one cooking at my house, so I pull out the roast, read the instructions and panic. Since the roast was so small, I thought it would defrost quickly in cold water in the sink.  Ummm, no. So while it sat in an ice bath, I went about getting all the side dishes ready.

I cooked the roast according to the directions (very important to also read how to slice it!) and made all the traditional sides with most of my new healthy guide-lines. I’ll admit, there was butter in the mashed potatoes, but over all, I did really well.

When it came time to eat, I came up with a brilliant idea; I plated the dinner – Food Network style. I sliced the roast, added some gravy, fresh cranberry relish, added all the sides and placed a plate in front of each of my children – there is no better food critic than a young kid.

I’ll admit, they mentioned that it tasted different and I told them I got a different kind of “turkey” this year. And that was the end of the conversation. They ate it. They had seconds. We made sandwiches. It was a non-issue, until…

About three days later, we were outside and our neighbor came over to chat. I asked about his Thanksgiving (what was I thinking?) and he asked about ours. He asked how it went? – meaning, did we do it vegetarian? My daughter was right next to me, so, I said it went great but, he wouldn’t let it go.  I finally confessed to having made Tofurky.

At that moment, my 9 year old’s eyes got wide and she said, that’s why it tasted different and she poked me.  I was quick to explain that I hadn’t lied and that she liked it any way.  She admitted this and the neighbor seemed genuinely surprised.

Now, the story has become more about my “deception” than the fact that we had Tofurky for Thanksgiving.

So, between you and me… we are the ones buying the food, we are the ones preparing the food, so it is up to us to make sure that our families are healthy! And who hasn’t hidden a few vegetables in a dish here and there.

We changed our eating habits a little over 2 years ago and just last week, my 13 year old son made a comment about an Asian lentil stew I’d made. He said, “ Mom, I really like this, but it needs more vegetables.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Laura Aychman

Tips for Vegetarian Thanksgiving Cooking
Cooking should be a fun experience… not a chore. Remember, you can make any recipe yours by including ingredients that you and your family enjoy. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Free your recipes from being held captive!  Only worry about precision when you’re baking. A little more or less of a spice will not make or break a recipe.

Next time you’re missing an ingredient in a recipe, don’t panic. Many recipes are flexible and will still come out delicious when you improvise. Plus, many non-vegetarian recipes can be tweaked to create a new vegetarian version.

When making tweaks, try keeping ingredients within the same ethnic category. Ethnic flavor combinations have been developed over centuries and blend together naturally. Let’s say for example, you’re making over a Mexican dish without meat, use traditional Mexican proteins and starches such as pinto beans, black beans, and posole (hominy), not Asian mung beans or Indian lentils.

Dissect the basic flavors of the dish. If you’re missing a certain flavoring, ask yourself if it is basically sweet, salty, sour, bitter, or spicy? Think of something from your cupboard in the same category. Substituting starches and proteins makes less of a difference in overall taste than spices and flavorings.

Additional Suggestions

  • It is important to read your recipes thoroughly before starting to cook, paying close attention to the directions and looking up unfamiliar ingredients and cooking methods.
  • Clean a space where you can work. Make sure the pots, pans and other tools you’ll need are clean and set them up if necessary.
  • Gather all the ingredients and prep them as directed. Having everything right at your fingertips before you start is invaluable.
  • Keep staples such as flours, oils, beans, and grains on hand so you don’t have to run out to the store at the last minute.


  • Be careful about how many changes and adaptations you make in a recipe. When making a change or substitution think about the big picture and ask yourself. “What does that ingredient do?” Some recipes can handle a lot of substitutions and changes, others cannot.
  • Ask yourself – “Is the ingredient essential? Does my substitution look, taste, weigh, feel and have the same moisture and texture as the original ingredient?”
  • Stay in the same spice family.

Baking Tips:

  • Don’t over mix your batter. It can become gummy or tough because of the protein/gluten in your flour gets overdeveloped.
  • Whereas cooking allows for flexibility, baking calls for accurate measurements. Use the proper measuring spoons and cups.
  • Don’t pack dry ingredients into the measuring cups, always spoon into the measuring cup.
  • Dark pans absorb more heat and may speed up the baking process, so I always check my baked goods about 10 minutes before the directions suggest. Lighter pans reflect the heat and may need the full baking time or even a little longer. To be on the safe side I still set the timer early.
  • Parchment paper is a wonderful way to eliminate extra fat and calories and makes cleanup a breeze. It’s specially designed for oven use, so it doesn’t burn. It works great on cookies sheets, cakes, cupcake and loaf pans.
  • Done test works best with a good old fashion toothpick. Stick it in the center of your cakes and quick breads, if it comes out clean and dry your goods are done.

Ginger Garlic Tofurky Roast Recipe
(Courtesy of

1 1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp. grated or minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp. almond oil or olive oil
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 Tofurky Roast

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix together all ingredients (except Tofurky) in a small bowl. Place Tofurky roast on aluminum foil in a baking or roasting dish. Spoon the mixed sauce over the Tofurky roast. Wrap tightly with foil and roast for 2 hours.

Enjoy your garlic roasted Tofurky!

*Be as creative with the seasoning as you would with the old turkey recipes. Make sure the Tofurky Roast is defrosted before cooking – allow 24 hours.
Additional recipes and instructions available at

Pumpkin Pear Soup
(altered from Clean Eating magazine)

This is a great soup when you want some creamy goodness without the cream. You can make this soup up to three days before the big day – just stop after you blend it.

2 firm ripe pears
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 1/2 pound cooking pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (about 7 cups)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper (more to taste)
5 cups chicken broth*
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1.  In a medium stock-pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
2.  Add in the pumpkin and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
3.  Add onion and cook, stirring for 4 minutes.
4.  Stir in the diced pear, sage, allspice, salt & pepper and cook until vegetables are crisp tender. Stir occasionally. (About 4 more minutes.)
5.  Add broth, scrape the bottom of the pot to get the browned bits up. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, cooking until the pumpkin and pear are very tender. (6-8 minutes)
6.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (Or put in a blender and blend in batches careful to vent the blender and allow steam to escape.)

When serving, cut remaining half of pear into matchstick and toss with lemon juice. Re-heat the soup if necessary. Season with additional salt & pepper if desired and garnish with pear matchsticks.

For an extra protein boost, you can also garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. (1 tbsp adds 4.8g of protein).

*Our local health food store has bouillon cubes that are “no-chicken” cubes, so it is flavored for chicken stock, but no chicken in it. Or you can use “Better than Bouillon” paste when making your own “chicken” stock/broth.

Garlicky Mashed Sweet Potatoes
(altered from Vegetarian Times)

Serves 8

The mellow flavor of roasted garlic is such a nice complement to naturally sweet tubers that there’s no need for butter.

Photo of Garlicky Mashed Sweet Potatoes1 large head garlic
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (8 cups)
2 large apples, peeled and diced (2 cups)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1.  Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut top off garlic head, exposing cloves. Place on piece of foil, and top with chopped rosemary.
2.  Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap loosely with foil, and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until soft and golden.
3.  Place sweet potatoes and apples in pot with enough water to cover. Add salt, cover pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft.
4.  Drain, and reserve 1 cup cooking water. Transfer to serving bowl.
5.  Squeeze roasted garlic cloves into sweet potatoes and apples. Add balsamic vinegar, and mash, adding cooking water as necessary to adjust texture for creaminess. Season with pepper, and serve hot.

Kids Korner

Hello, it’s Lisa!

Often we look at holidays in light of the traditions that the world has taught us we should follow; things like:  what to eat, what to wear and what to give!

I believe Thanksgiving would be a great time to start “bucking” tradition and worry, not so much about what others think, but what might be best for our children, particularly in the area of nutritional food.

They say it takes a child 10 tries to develop a new taste for something. I would venture to guess that we, as adults, are not far behind in that statistic. I know that my taste buds still crave the “naughty” things to eat, when fruit and vegetables lay in front of me. It takes diligence to press on towards the goal of healthy eating.

So often parents tell me, “I cannot get ‘Johnny’ to eat vegetables”. I know what it means to be in the battle with your children, when it comes to food. They want what they want, and will put up a fight to the end, so that they don’t have to eat something healthy.

Often, we simply just let them win.

If we don’t “cater” to their wants, but instead say things like, “here is your after-school snack”… period, they will, in time, develop those healthy habits.  Soon, we’ll be amazed at their responses. Little-by-little we can change “Johnny’s” eating habits.

With these things in mind, I offer you some traditional kid-friendly side-dishes with a “twist” for your 2012 Thanksgiving dinner. How about serving Mashed Cauliflower instead of traditional mashed potatoes?

We do NOT have to be traditional to enjoy Thanksgiving. How about starting a new “tradition” around your thanksgiving this year! Your family will thank you in the years to come when they see the healthy eating you modeled and promoted to them.

Until next time… Love your kids from the inside-out!


Mashed Cauliflower

1 small or medium head of cauliflower, washed, trimmed, and chopped roughly
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp almond or rice milk (soy creamer if you want this super decadent)
2 tbsp Earth Balance
Dash black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme

1.  Boil or steam cauliflower until tender.

2.  Drain (allow some time here to remove all water) and transfer to a food processor.

3.  Pulse until the cauliflower is broken down in the processor.

4.  Add the garlic, salt, earth balance and with the motor now running, add two tablespoons of almond milk.

If the mix isn’t blending, scrape the sidewalls, then add a touch more almond milk. In the end, you want it to be this light and smooth.


Refreshing Fruit Dip

Courtesy of Taste of Home
Yields 2-1/2 cups

16 oz frozen peach slices
10 oz frozen strawberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp almond extract

Assorted fresh fruit for dipping!

1.  In a food processor, combine all ingredients.
2.  Cover and process until smooth.
3.  Serve with in-season fresh fruits!

How about serving assorted sliced fruits and a vegan fruit dip for dessert while the kiddos play or watch movies?  You just wait!  You’ll see their little “paws” won’t be able to help themselves when there is no other option!  😉

Do you have specific questions about getting started, cooking or preparing plant strong meals? Have a favorite recipe you would like to makeover?

Email us your recipe and the story of your journey. We will be happy to help you create your own healthy dishes. Your recipe and story may be printed in a future newsletter for everyone to enjoy.

Until we eat again!

Laura, Connie, Lisa, Greg, Pamela, Dale and Wayne

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