Low-fat, low-sodium, vegan Christmas dinner food?
November 28, 2007 1:54 PM   Subscribe

What are some great vegan, low-fat and low-sodium recipes suitable for a Christmas dinner?

My family has a tradition of doing up Christmas dinner. My sister and I get into town a week beforehand and immediately start planning a menu, and for a couple days we cook and cook until we've got a feast ready for Christmas night. Most of the family is vegan, so we always make everything vegan, but up to now it's been pretty much a salt-and-fat-fest otherwise.

Problem is, last year my dad had a close call with his heart, and now he needs to be on a low-fat, low-sodium diet. (He is allowed to have a little of each, but nowhere near as much as we would ordinarily use.) What can we make under those constraints? Any other tips on how to cook decadent food in heart-healthy ways?

Our family has a lot of good cooks --- my sister is a professional baker, for instance --- and we're pretty good at adapting non-vegan recipes, so don't worry if something looks complicated or isn't quite vegan. Really I'm just not experienced in how to cook good food without salt or fat, on top of the other constraints.
posted by jacobm to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I love taking a big butternut squash and drizzling it with olive oil and cracked pepper and then filling in the seed cavity with walnuts that have been lightly caramelized in brown sugar and then baking the whole thing in the oven and serving it as a main course.

Then, you can take a really glorious melon, I like doing this with watermelon, and cutting out great big chunks and letting them dry out overnight. Then take those big wedges and but them in a pan heated with a little oil, some garlic, onions, and thyme. They taste really lovely.
posted by parmanparman at 2:05 PM on November 28, 2007

Fatfree Vegan is a good resource for the low-fat side of things. I don't really know how her recipes are with the sodium, though.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 2:06 PM on November 28, 2007

A variation on This theme is served as a main dish in our house normally, but could make a great side for a holiday family feast!!
posted by sneakyalien at 2:26 PM on November 28, 2007

Oh, and another vote for Butternut squash...
posted by sneakyalien at 2:27 PM on November 28, 2007

Steamed asparagus with lemon juice. I constantly recommend it because it's so _right_.

Lemon juice or other acidic flavors are a common and flavorful substitute for salt.

Warm liquids, like soup, are good substitutes for fat, but I'm not sure of the best way to do this without making it too salty. An onion/celery base, perhaps with other herbs (savory in particular) might be a good way to start a low-salt soup. I recommend trying lots of crushed celery seed.
posted by amtho at 2:42 PM on November 28, 2007

Mushrooms are also interesting flavor-wise, and sometimes underappreciated.
posted by amtho at 2:51 PM on November 28, 2007

you could use a salt substitute and only have to worry about lessening the fat content of some of your favorites. The salt substitute is potassium chloride (not sure of the label/trade names) and the taste is fairly similar, certainly worth a test dinner.
posted by estronaut at 2:55 PM on November 28, 2007

Roasted cauliflower is quite seasonal and could be made low-fat and low-sodium. There are many variations on the web, but here's my favorite recipe. (You would have to cut down the salt, and depending on how little fat you're going for, be sparing with the olive oil.)
posted by jocelmeow at 3:31 PM on November 28, 2007

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!

(Just because desserts shouldn't be too healthy.)

You can find said book on Amazon.
posted by santojulieta at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2007

Good (balsamic, if you like) vinegar is really nice instead of salt, for example on roasted vegetables. Fresh lemon juice also works in some dishes. Also: use more of other spices, ginger, garlic etc. If there are no people with MSG sensitivities that works wonderful as a low sodium taste enhancer (make sure to try in advance how much is needed).

Sometimes simple is good too. I like this casserole, with lemon juice instead of water, more fresh garlic, caramelized onion (this can be done in a non stick skillet with a very small amount of oil, or even in water (keep stirring!), see FatFreeVegan for more advice), and fresh spices. It has tahini, but totals up to only 15% fat per serving.

Seitan is the lowest fat "meat substitute". You can make great fake meats with it, if you like that. The vegan forums are full with fake turkey recipes this time of the year. A low sodium version may be a bit bland, but you could make up for that with a great sauce.

I also second FatFreeVegan.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World rules, but there is no reason desserts should not be healthy. Two wonderful books with low fat vegan desserts are Simple Treats and Lickin The Beaters (if you can find it). Both books are search-insideabe on Amazon.
posted by davar at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2007

Like all the past recipes I've posted, these are raw/vegan.

Not sure if this recipe fits the criteria but since Squash has been mentioned... absolutely delish!

Also, I don't know what constitutes "low" sodium/fat, so if this isn't appropriate, I apologize.

If the nuts in the above recipe make it too fat, here's a nut free version:

1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
2 tbs yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt

Put small batches of squash in food procesor and process 'til small and "rice" like in size.

Put processed squash in large mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix well.

I also have a recipe for a vegan lasagna but it uses cashews and pistachios along with the veggies. If those nuts are edible to your eaters, let me know and I'll post it.
posted by dobbs at 7:03 PM on November 28, 2007

If you add lemon juice to tomato it tastes very salty, so no need to even add a salt substitute. Also, home made swiss roll doesn't use any fat for the cake, just eggs, flour and sugar. I think you should not bother with the decadent part for the main course, as that's kinda why such food is full of fat and salt. I'd suggest vegetable tarts (chopped onions fried in a very small amount of oil, pasata, finely chopped courgettes, finely chopped bell pepper, black pepper and lemon juice to season. Pile onto a pre-cooked filo pastry base and bake for another 5 minutes.) Pudding is a different matter of course. Blending bananas, mashed cooked basmati rice and cocoa powder makes a nice sticky pudding.
posted by gatchaman at 3:00 PM on December 1, 2007

here are a few soup ideas. i don't really have recipes for these, i just throw them together in varying quantities, and they are always delicious.

carrot cashew
carrots, cashews, low-sodium veggie stock (or your own stock), ginger (optional)
chop carrots, add everything to a pot, boil, blend, garnish with black pepper to taste, serve.

root vegetable soup
turnips, parsnips, celariac (celery root), sweet potato or squash or pumpkin, potatoes, any other root veggies you like (except beets...), low-sodium veggie stock (or homemade stock), spices (optional: thyme, majoram, sage, white pepper)
chop everything, add everything to a pot, boil, blend, serve

creamy potato soup
peeled chopped potatoes, mori-nu tofu (the kind in aseptic packaging), water, salt and pepper to taste (pink peppercorns if you want to be fancy), vegan deli slices (like lightlife) cut into small squares (fried if you want, not necessary)
add all but last ingredient to pot, boil, blend, add in chopped deli slices, serve
**tastes like it has lots of cream, but that is just the potatoes and tofu working their magic

notes on soup
cauliflower, potatoes or broccoli make great soup bases. try different combinations of veggies. blending it (esp. with tofu) makes it taste so much creamier. any stringy veggies (like celery) chop enough so there are not long strings in the soup.

non-soup recipies

Sauteed Fennel over Pasta

2 Fennel bulbs
vegan parmesan cheese
sun dired tomatoes
your favorite black olives, sliced
onions (optional)
fresh garlic, chopped

saute fennel and garlic. Add sliced olices and chopped sundried tomatoes. Just before it is done, add olives; cook until they heat through.
Serve over pasta.
Sprinkle with vegan parmesan.

filling for lasagna or stuffed shells
mashed up tofu (nasoya style tofu), spices: oregano, basil, majoram (or just use italian seasoning), a little pepper, veganase (enough to just coat tofu)
mix everything together, use as lasagna filling or use to stuff shells
--to make it more low-sodium, use a low-sodium red sauce over the shells or lasanga


(makes 1 cup)

½ lb mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, chopped

1 c chopped walnuts

Pepper and salt to taste

1 Tbsp water

Saute mushrooms and onion for 8 minutes. Pour into blender or food processor, adding walnuts, seasonings and water. Blend until smooth. Serve on matzo as a spread.
** use more mushrooms, less nuts for a lower fat version.
posted by laminarial at 10:24 AM on December 4, 2007

also, vegan quiche is pretty decadent and can still be low-fat, low-sodium. i use the recipe below as a base. take out the sugar and other flavorings, and add in veggies like broccoli, onions, asparagus, etc., and fake meat if you like. adjust salt to your preferences. can cut down on the tahini, but i wouldn't recommend cutting back too much -- the tahini gives it a cheesy taste and consistency. use a traditional pie crust, or to really cut back on the fat, just forgo the crust all together.

Lemon Tofu 'Cheesecake'
from an old (1994?) issue of vegetarian times. i made it for a bunch of burly meat-head federal marshalls and they thought it was great.

If you make this cheesecake the day before serving, its flavor will be more developed.

2 cups Grape-nuts cereal
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 lb. firm silken tofu
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. tahini (see glossary)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbs. cornstarch dissolved in
2 Tbs. rice milk or soymilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cereal in a food processor or blender; grind to fine crumbs, about 2 minutes. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add maple syrup and almond extract; mix well until crumbs are moistened.
Pour into oiled 9-inch pie plate and press mixture evenly to form crust. Bake 5 minutes; let cool while preparing filling.

Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender until very smooth, about 30 seconds.
Pour into crust. Bake until top of pie is slightly browned, about 30 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and firm, about 2 hours. Makes 8 servings.
posted by laminarial at 10:31 AM on December 4, 2007

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