‘Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, a short Asian girl has been typing away at her computer, trying to finish this post. Honestly, the holidays are so overwhelming–SO many winter and Christmas-themed recipes, way too many wish-lists to please, excessive crowds, the overplaying of Christmas tunes (which I don’t mind, to be honest!), and the stressful attempts of trying to get all of my holiday recaps published on time are the worst! And I know, house doesn’t completely rhyme with post. But it’s a slant at best.
Nevertheless, I most definitely look back at my memories of the holidays with elation. Even though I didn’t attend any packed potlucks, restaurant launches or any crazy parties, I still enjoyed the best experience of quality family bonding and Christmas cheer. What more could you possibly ask for? This year, I received a unique abundance of gifts, delicious food, and most importantly, love, friendship and family spirit. People who I initially did not believe thought much of me sent me the warmest wishes. It’s truly magical as to what kindness the holidays can bring you.
In this post, I’m sharing a concise yet vivid recap of the feastivities of my Christmas holiday! Come on, food is one of the most anticipated components of the season, right? Plus, it’s my first EVER Christmas eating as a vegan! On the other hand, if you want a more visual recap of my food over the holidays, just press the play button of this video, sit back, relax and sing along. After you’re done, head over to my YouTube channel and subscribe for more!
But without further ado, let’s start with the food of Christmas Eve!
CHRISTMAS EVE BRUNCH
Right after accomplishing what I’d consider to be one of the hardest workouts that I’ve ever attempted over the winter break, showering and getting dressed, I headed straight for the fridge and pantry to make my green tea, vegan hot chocolate and sweet potato breakfast bowl! My Japanese sweet potato was so wide that I had to make two separate incisions to expand its surface area!
My Japanese sweet potato toppings included part of a CLIF peanut butter-filled bar, my family’s dark chocolate gingerbread BarkThins, my college’s homemade raspberry jam, and all of my Trader Joe’s favorites: pumpkin pie spice, sunflower seed butter, organic holiday fruit spread, Pumpkin O’s and pecan pie granola! The fruit salad comprised of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and another winter fruit that I’ve been loving a LOT lately: pomegranate seeds! For my vegan hot chocolate, I carefully heated up a mixture of a scoop of Growing Naturals chocolate pea protein, So Delicious coconut milk, water and liquid Stevia!
I gave this combination 11/10 stars. But then again, I have sweet potatoes almost all of the time! However, I didn’t realize how much I truly miss fruit, and making vegan hot chocolate is my new favorite way of having my chocolate protein! Pouring it over the fruit and sweet potatoes was quite interesting–not bad, but I’d stick with drinking it separately!
CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER
I could feel my face beam when my dad announced that we’d be eating at our favorite Korean restaurant for dinner. Vegan options at many Korean restaurants are relatively limited, but fortunately, I dug into salads and fermented vegetables as appetizers and a hot sizzling bowl of tofu, zucchini, green onions and mushrooms in a spicy chili broth for my main course!
To be honest, I didn’t miss Korean galbi whatsoever, but I did wish that I could grill some vegetables from the barbecue menu. However, I could not use the grill because it was completely coated with butter! But the stew was still extremely satisfying and I left the restaurant with a very happy stomach. 🙂
CHRISTMAS DAY BRUNCH
Surprised that I had yet another sweet potato? Neither am I. Hey, I now have only one sweet potato left, so I might as well rid of them as soon as I can so I can get back into restaurant hopping! Still have plenty of destinations to cross off of the list. Back to the subject at hand: while my mother made everyone else omelets, I created a loaded brunch plate of another mug of vegan hot chocolate, Japanese sweet potato with the standard toppings (with hazelnuts and parts of a Smooth Caffeinator PickyBar in exchange of the BarkThins), another berry salad and my mother’s leftover sauteed onions, spinach and mushrooms. Again, the flavors were superb, and the sauteed vegetables added the best savory umami tastes to the platter.
Do you like my new earmuffs? They’re a Christmas present my youngest sister gave me, and have become my new favorite chilly weather accessory! I couldn’t resist but snuggle my ears in the soft padding!
And of course she had to ruin the perfect photo.
No worries. I’ll get my vengeance someday.
CHRISTMAS DAY DINNER
Who could forget the most anticipated component of the holiday, aka the Christmas feast? Truth is, even though I had plenty of food at home to eat, the rest of my family was losing their minds trying to find a presently open restaurant to order from. They did not have the energy to cook for themselves after a long day of watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and getting mesmerized by the nighttime lights (and I don’t blame them–they were gorgeous!). Unfortunately, I’d be the LAST one they’d ask to cook for them. #onlyveganinthefamilyproblems
As a result, we ended up ordering our standard Indian dishes from the nearest Indian restaurant that we open. I was actually delighted to know that I’d be digging into my favorite vegetable curries for the holiday! Once my family and I arrived home, I immediately popped my pre-marinaded hoisin tofu in the oven at 450F. Ideally, it would take around 25-30 minutes for the tofu to completely crisp up in the oven, but I was so hungry and impatient that I took the tray out and ate one slice by the fifteenth minute! For my first plate, I helped myself to a serving of mixed vegetable curry, eggplant bharta, tamarind sauce, steamed broccoli and a slice of tofu!
For the sake of keeping everything aesthetic to the human eye, I didn’t take any shots of my second helping of two more tofu slices, curries and vegetables. I even had a third serving of the bharta because it was just so freaking tasty!
The full blog post of the hoisin-style tofu recipe will definitely be coming soon, but you can find the complete procedure in the video above!
Returning to the Brand at Americana felt like rewinding to a day three years ago, around the same month. It was such a long time since I’ve last come to this magical outdoor mall–it has all of my old favorite clothing stores, Barnes and Noble, and Sur La Table along with my favorite restaurants Lemonade and Pressed Juicery! Of course, reuniting with my cousin was such a momentous part of the day!
All of us got tickets to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; the movie’s special effects were meticulously crafted and looked as excellent as expected by Disney, but the actual storyline took me a generous quarter of the movie to comprehend. Haven’t watched any of the Star Wars originals–sorry! However, I did end up appreciating what the movie had to offer, especially its diversity of Asian and other ethnicities, and would watch it again.
The bad news is that the theater and a very small handful of restaurants were open on Christmas, which is why we ended up leaving after walking around the mall and watching the brief water-works show. Hey, without everything else being closed, we would never have gotten delectable Indian takeout and snuggled in the family room to watch movies on Amazon prime! So I say, the night was an absolute success!
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday around this time of year, I hope the rest of you had a magnificent, heartwarming and comfort-filled weekend! I am so excited to spread more love and gratitude to my loved ones and toast to yet another successful year, and I hope that you get to do the same. Sending you all my warmest wishes! Happy (belated) holidays!