Photo: Family Opening Christmas Presents

by Down to Earth

With political turmoil and heightened emotions causing so much anxiety these days, it will be good to pause for a moment and think about how you want to enter this year’s Christmas season. What positive experiences do you want and what can you do to make that happen? Lessons handed down by spiritual leaders for millenniums ring true today as ever before. Enter this year’s Christmas season with a spirit of love and compassion—indeed “good will.” We love it when we are treated in this way, and we know it is what makes this time of year so special. Why not pass it forward?

Paraphrasing the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, "…change begins within us," we cannot expect change in the world if we do not first change ourselves. Be the change you want to see. Extend your compassion and respect to all living entities. Not only to those you love and your friends or people with whom you agree, but also to those with whom you disagree.

Take this spirit of compassion one step further and apply it to your lifestyle, even your diet. A compassionate, peaceful diet is one that does not involve cruelty to animals as they are needlessly raised under torturous conditions and killed for food.

A common refrain is to question, “If not animals, where do I get my protein?” Well, plants of course. Think about it. The biggest land animals are plant eaters. In prehistoric times, this included a wide variety of huge dinosaurs. Today, the ten biggest land animals are all herbivores e.g. the elephant, white rhinoceros, hippo, giraffe, horses, bulls and cows. One remarkable thing about them is that despite their size, they’re all peaceful!

So, in conclusion, one of the most profoundly compassionate ways we can celebrate Christmas this year is by treating others with respect and kindness, and moving towards a plant-based vegetarian diet. Start with Christmas dinner!

The recipes we suggested for Thanksgiving were so well received that we present them again here for your consideration.  What follows are a few ideas from our online recipes page to get your wheels spinning and your mouth watering.  If you look at only one recipe, you must check out the recipe for the Tofu Turkey pictured below. This recipe is the first one on the Mains list below.  It looks great, tastes great, and is always a hearty party favorite. Add the Mock Turkey Gravy (below) and you'll rock! 

Merry Christmas! And, as always, from the team at Down to Earth, Love Life! Eat Healthy, Be Happy!

Vegetables and Side Dishes

Flavor vegetables with herbs, spices, vinaigrettes, and drizzles of olive oil. There are many ways to steam, sauté or bake side dishes without slathering them with butter or cheese sauces. Some fun holiday side recipes are below:

Mains

Plant-based versions of traditional holiday fare are a great way to trim the calories and cholesterol while adding more disease-fighting plant nutrients! Try these recipes that are a win for everyone:

Potatoes

Substitute butter with unsweetened almond or hemp milk, low fat or skim milk, light cream or coconut milk. Add garlic and herbs to enhance flavor. Try sweet potatoes instead -- they are high in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants! Here are some easy, tasty alternatives:

Desserts

Cut the calories by cutting smaller slices! Sweeten desserts with natural sugars such as organic raw cane sugar, raw honey, agave, coconut sugar, or even real fruit. Use phyllo dough, whole grain flours, or ground nuts and seeds for a healthier crust! Below are some traditional -- as well as raw, vegan, and even gluten-free -- versions of yummy holiday treats:

Gluten-Free

A special section just for our gluten intolerant or sensitive friends. Enjoy all the holiday flavors without any gluten in sight! Many of these recipes are naturally gluten-free or have been adapted. These dishes are so tasty, no will know or care that they’re gluten-free!

Search Down to Earth recipes

If you’re tired of the same old recipes you make every year or tired of guessing at substitutions that fit your diet, check out the Recipe page on the Down to Earth website.

You can easily find recipes that accommodate a vegan, gluten-free, nut-free or soy-free diet.  To find recipes for meals that are easy to prepare, you can search by special categories such as Quick and Healthy, One Pot Meals, Budget Friendly Meals, and Cooking with Kids.  There’s even a “Holiday” category to make it easy to find recipes for special ocassions.

Whatever your individual recipe requirements, our recipe page makes it easy to take the next step. Put in your keywords, adjust your criteria, and then hit “search”. Instantly, you’ll have a list of possibilities tailored to your unique needs.