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.
Baked Sweet Potato With Harissa Roasted Tomatoes
(Photography by Marie Reginato)
Ingredients for the harissa roasted tomatoes
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups [300 g])
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tsp harissa
- Sea salt to taste
Ingredients for the sweet potato and toppings
- 3 small sweet potatoes
- 3⁄4 cup (150 g) black beans, warmed
- 1⁄3 cup (45 g) thinly sliced red onion, cut in half
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Handful of pumpkin seeds
- Handful of microgreens (optional topping)
Start making the harissa roasted tomatoes by roasting your cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves. Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C). Wrap the cloves of garlic in foil and place them on a lined baking dish along with the cherry tomatoes and bake for 25 minutes, or until the skins of the tomatoes have slightly blistered and the juices have burst through the sides.
Once the tomatoes have cooked, remove them and the garlic from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, turn up the heat to 420°F (215°C) and line another baking sheet. Prick the sweet potatoes a few times with a fork and toss them onto the lined baking sheet. Cook the sweet potatoes for 40 to 50 minutes (depending on the size), until the skin is crispy and the inside is tender.
As the sweet potatoes cook, add the tomatoes, garlic, harissa and salt into a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds until the tomatoes have broken down and everything is well mixed. Taste the sauce and see if you would like to add more harissa.
Once the sweet potatoes have finished cooking, it's time to assemble your plate! Add a layer of the harissa roasted tomato sauce onto the plate, top with the sliced roasted sweet potato and sprinkle with black beans, red onion slices, avocado, pumpkin seeds, microgreens and a drizzle more of the harissa roasted tomato sauce.
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.