The holidays are all about being indulgent—endless feasting, shopping and time with your favorite people. It's also a time when rules are broken and health goals become afterthoughts until the New Year.
But the good news is you can still treat yourself to delicious eats and incorporate more veggies in your life—and that's whether you're a devout vegan, considering becoming one, or just trying to fit into your skinny jeans. For help, we're looking to the expert: Bay Area chef and Instagram food darling Marie Reginato, whose plant- and seafood-based recipes have been featured everywhere from MindBodyGreen to Food52.
Reginato swears by hearty veggie-laden dishes—think pumpkin curry, stews, one-pot pastas and grain bowls—that "do a phenomenal job at keeping you energized and full throughout the day." Her new cookbook, Alternative Vegan, shatters the notion that eating has to be a binary choice and that food and diet is not one-size-fits-all.
"This book gives you the wiggle room to stick to a healthy lifestyle long term," Reginato says. "It makes plant-based cooking more accessible with two sections dedicated to incorporating seafood and eggs into your diet whenever you'd like."
The book is chock-full of mouthwatering recipes that will also do the work of impressing your friends and fam during holiday meals. Check out five irresistible side dishes plus a snack for the road, as well a few tips from Reginato on how to stay healthy this season.
Zesty Beluga Lentils Over Orange-Glazed Cauliflower Florets
(Photography by Marie Reginato)
Serves 3–4. Vegan and gluten-free.
- 1 cup (200 g) beluga lentils (black lentils)
- 1 cauliflower head
- 2 heaping tbsp (35 ml) olive oil
- 1⁄2 fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- Sea salt
- Juice of 2 medium-sized oranges, divided, and zest of 1 orange
- 1–2 tsp (3–6 g) chili flakes
- 2–3 tbsp (30–45 ml) red wine vinegar
Start by cooking the lentils as the box instructs and add 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt to the pot of water.
In the meantime, set your oven broiler to high, line a baking pan and remove the stem of the cauliflower head. Removing the stem lets the cauliflower break off into smaller florets. Cut the florets so that they're all similar in size—medium, bite-size pieces.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil for 1 minute. Now add in the cauliflower, fennel slices, garlic and sea salt. Sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the pan ever dries out, add a few splashes of water and mix well. Now on a lined baking pan, add the sautéed veggies with a drizzle of olive oil and broil in the oven for 5 minutes.
Remove the veggies from the oven and toss the cauliflower mixture back into the saucepan. Add the juice from 1 orange, chili flakes, red wine vinegar and a few pinches of sea salt and mix well.
Now that the lentils have cooked and have absorbed all the liquid (if they haven't, just pour the excess liquid out), squeeze in the juice from 1 orange and its zest. Top the lentils with the cauliflower mixture (including any of the vinegar-juice that may be left over) and enjoy!
7x7: As people are traveling for the holidays and prone to catching colds, what are some good ingredients to help boost immune systems?
MR: I'd say start with an immune-boosting morning tonic, which sounds fancy but, in reality, we're just mixing pantry staples to create a delicious yet nutritionally dense drink. To make the tonic simply mix 1/2 cup hot water, 1/3 cup warm nut milk, ½ tsp. turmeric, dash of cinnamon, a crack of black pepper and a spoonful of honey. It's absolutely delicious and nonetheless a great way to start your day.
7x7: What are your favorite spices or condiments to jazz up healthy holiday meals?
MR: Caramelized medjool dates in savory recipes work every time. Roast up some rosemary-honeyed carrots and throw in a few dates for crispy bites of caramelized sweetness. This is one of my favorite dishes to serve to friends who might not be sold on the plant-based eating experience. It's a food rainbow, highlighting how delicious a plate full of veggies can taste when roasted with an array of fresh herbs.