Toss the turkey for a vegetarian Christmas

Are you dreaming of a veggie Christmas? Not everyone longs for turkey with all the trimmings but the vegetarian option needn’t be the boring option.

It’s worth remembering at all times of the year that because vegetarians avoid eating meat and meat products, they can be missing out on valuable nutrients, especially iron, vitamin B12 and protein. For this reason, vegetarians should go for a ‘meat alternative’, a high protein food which will go some way to meeting this deficit. Meat alternatives include quorn, tofu and textured vegetable protein or TVP along with beans, pulses and nuts, and eggs and dairy products for many. These foods will provide essential protein in the vegetarians’ diet. Including fortified breakfast cereals, yeast extract such as Marmite, whole grains and a wide range of vegetables in the diet will also help meet these nutritional needs.

This fabulous festive recipe will go a long way towards meeting the nutritional needs of those who avoid meat and will be a winner with all the family, not just vegetarians. Why not cook a smaller turkey and give everyone a slice of the meat-free action? Serve this Christmas roast with home-made bread sauce and plenty of seasonal vegetables, brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce.

Vegetarian Christmas roast

For the roast:

1 large onion
8 oz green or brown lentils
2 oz each brazil nuts, walnuts and hazelnuts
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp rosemary
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs red wine
bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper

For the stuffing:

4 tbs apple sauce
4oz breadcrumbs
½ tsp sage
1 tbs olive oil
1 small onion
freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

3oz breadcrumbs
1 tbs sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Place the lentils, sliced onion and bay leaf into a pan with just enough water to cover, bring to the boil and simmer until lentils have softened. Remove the bay leaf, drain and mash the onions and lentils. Add chopped nuts, herbs and wine and season with black pepper. Prepare the stuffing by gently cooking the chopped small onion in olive oil. Stir in apple sauce and sage and add breadcrumbs. Lightly spray a loaf tin with cooking spray. Place half of the lentil mixture into the tin and top with stuffing. Cover with the remaining lentil mixture and sprinkle with mixed breadcrumbs and sesame seeds. Bake for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden.

Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional information: 285 calories, 15g of fat and 28g carbohydrate (3 units) per serving.

This home-made bread sauce recipe is quick and easy to make and has no added fat. Brilliant.

Bread sauce

4oz breadcrumbs
1 pint skimmed milk
8 whole cloves
1 medium onion
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper

Cut the onion in half and stud with cloves. Place into the milk, along with the bay leaf, in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and allow the flavours to infuse for half an hour. Remove onion and bay leaf and stir in breadcrumbs. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with black pepper.

Makes 10 servings.
Nutritional information: 66 calories, 0.3g fat and 13 g carbohydrate (1 Unit) per serving.

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