Be the Boss of the Holidays with These Simple, Low-Cost, Vegan Holiday Recipes

Kathie Bergquist
Written by Kathie Bergquist

Out of time? Out of money? Heading to someone’s holiday feast with nothing to bring? Ms. Fit is ready to rock your world with these fast, easy, vegetarian, gluten-free, and cost effective holiday recipes. 

Spiced Nuts

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Taking less than 20 minutes to prepare with ingredients you probably have in your cupboards, these spiced nuts are perfect for cocktail hour and, with minimal packaging, also make a great hostess gift.

Recipe adapted from The New Basics cookbook.


2 tbsp. olive oil (or any vegetable oil)

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. curry powder

½ tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ginger

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cups assorted whole, raw nuts (any combo of walnuts, almonds, and pecans is ideal).


First off, if you don’t have exactly all of these spices, don’t worry about it. Use the best approximation to this that you can. Also, feel free to sub ½ tsp. garlic salt for the garlic powder and sea salt.

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Pretty spice melange

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet. Add the spices and stir gently until the spices toast and the aromas release, only about 1 minute or so. Pour the nuts into a bowl that is big enough to toss them around in without them spilling over. Pour the oil and spice mixture over the nuts and toss, stir, and fold to coat the nuts evenly with the spice mixture. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and toast in the oven for 12 minutes, tossing once about midway through so they don’t get too toasty on one side.

Remove from oven and let cool. These nuts will stay fresh and tasty in an airtight container for several weeks.


Cranberry Sauce

So easy and so delicious that you will never go back to canned cranberry sauce again.


12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed

2 tsp. orange zest (First wash the orange thoroughly. Then use a microplane zester or a vegetable peeler or paring knife to cut thin strips of skin off of the orange, being careful to avoid as much as the white pith as possible. If you need to, mince, shred or finely julienne these pieces so they are tiny. One medium-sized orange yields about 4 tsp. of zest).

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup plain white sugar

1 cup water

Optional: ¼ cup chopped, toasted pecans (to toast pecans, heat on a cookie sheet in the oven heated at 325 degrees for 10 minutes).


Put the water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat to boiling (all sugar should be fully dissolved). Add the cranberries and stir a few minutes until the berry skins begin to pop and burst.

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Cranberries beginning to pop.

At this point, add the orange zest and cinnamon stick and stir together for a few more minutes until most of the cranberries have exploded. If you want chunky cranberry sauce, (and who doesn’t?), remove the cinnamon stick and pour the remaining mixture into a suitably-sized glass bowl and allow to chill a few hours in the fridge. After the sauce is completely cool and has gelled, you can fold in the optional toasted pecans for added texture and a very pleasant crunch. If you prefer smooth cranberry sauce, strain the cranberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a glass bowl of suitable size and chill a few hours in the fridge until completely cool and gelled. Note that this recipe will yield about 2 ½ cups of whole berry sauce, but only about 1 cup of smooth sauce.


Magical Parsnip, Carrot, and Leek Soup

carrot parsnip soup, Thanksgiving recipe, vegan recipe, vegan soupWhat’s magical about this soup is how so few ingredients can create something so delicious. The secret is using a combination of fresh and roasted veggies.


Olive or your preferred cooking oil

2 medium-sized parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

(Once peeled and chopped, the combined parsnips and carrots should yield about four cups.)

1 large leek, cut lengthwise and then into crosswise chunks, and well rinsed

6 cups water or vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350. Spread a small amount of olive oil onto a cookie sheet, and pour about half of the carrots and parsnips there to roast. Sprinkle with a little salt and put in the oven. These will need about 45 minutes to an hour to cook. Midway through, you’ll want to toss them a little bit so they brown evenly. The veggies will shrink a lot while roasting, but don’t freak out. A little will go a long way.

While those are cooking, add some more oil (about a tbsp.) to a Dutch oven. Add the leeks and stir about 5 minutes until they are more or less translucent. Add the remaining peeled and chunked carrots and parsnips,

carrots and parsnips

toss around a little bit, and then add five cups of the water or stock (keep one cup set aside). Bring this to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer and let it cook until the vegetable are completely soft and break apart easily with a fork. At this point, you can turn off the fire and wait until the other carrots and parsnips are done roasting.

roasted veggies

When the veggies are done roasting, (they should be a little chewy on the outside and completely soft on the inside) add them to the Dutch oven with the other veggies. Puree this mixture in a blender until smooth and then pour it back into the Dutch oven. If the soup is too thick, add from the extra reserved water or stock until it is at your preferred consistency, and add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat if necessary.

If you like, you can garnish this with fresh chopped herbs and/or a spoonful of plain yogurt or sour cream. Ta-da!

This will serve six as a first course and four as a main course.

Happy Holidays from Your Friends at Ms. Fit!

About the author

Kathie Bergquist

Kathie Bergquist

Kathie Bergquist is publisher and editor-in-chief of Ms. Fit Mag. She teaches writing at Columbia College Chicago and edited of the anthology. "Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast" and is co-author of "A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago." Pulled reluctantly into a fitness lifestyle by her wife and partner of many years, Bergquist is now a runner, a boot camper, and a yogini.

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