I know what you’re thinking. Seriously, Cassie? Why such an original recipe shortage? Well, to be frank, I wanted to swim against the tides. Every single blog I’ve come across has at least two or three Christmas recipes or holiday-oriented dish to present. Adding more logs to the fireplace will just create more weight of distress–“Oh my gosh, ANOTHER recipe that I have to test and trial? Ugh, is there really such a thing as too many Christmas recipes?” In a perfect world, no. In a society based on consumerism, absolutely.
Anyhow, I’d thought I’d at least share my primary Christmas dish I presented to the table. It was such a delicious masterpiece that I’m fully going to recreate this recipe over and over again! As you may have guessed from the title, the dish I whipped up was a sweet potato lentil shepherd’s pie, which was inspired by some marvelous recipes I found from my favorite blogs.
What I adore about this recipe is that it’s magnificently flavorful, easy to create, is naturally gluten free, high in protein, packed with vitamins and minerals, oil free, and can easily be salt free! Japanese sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, white potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, kabocha squash, or even mashed cauliflower would also work for the top layer, whereas any other type of bean or ground beef replacement can easily suffice for the filling. It’s ultimately up to your imagination to decide what to use for the ingredients!
RECIPE (serves 4)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 4 cups cooked green or brown lentils
- 1 tsp ground rosemary
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt, can substitute for a salt free seasoning such as Mrs. Dash or Vegit
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Remove the sweet potato skins with a vegetable peeler. You can also skip this step and spoon out the filling of the sweet potatoes after they have finished baking. If you choose not to remove the skins, scrub the sweet potatoes with water and dry them.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper, foil, or a silpat sheet.
- Bake the sweet potatoes for 30-45 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
- Once finished, turn the heat of the oven to 400F.
- While the sweet potatoes cool, in a mixing bowl, toss the lentils with the spices except the cinnamon. Place the lentils in a small rectangular baking tin.
- In a separate bowl, mash the sweet potatoes with the cinnamon until a smooth and uniform consistency is accomplished.
- Cover the lentils with the sweet potato mash.
- Heat the shepherd’s pie for 25-30 minutes.
- Serve warm or keep as leftovers for up to five days in the fridge or a month in the freezer.
OTHER RECIPE FAVORITES
- Kale and Quinoa Avocado Salad: Who says that you can’t fill part of the holiday feast table with a healthy dish? This deliciously refreshing and nutrient-packed salad with kale, quinoa, avocado, and a host of other superfoods is a crowd-pleaser AND a way to make greens more enjoyable.
- Homemade Seitan: FAR superior to the pre-boxed stuff. Best part is that you can control the amount the batch makes and customize the flavors in any way!
- Sweet Potato Fries: Crispy, crunchy, yet soft in the middle…this is another favorite cooking method for sweet potatoes rather than just roasting them whole!
- Whole Wheat Baguette: Homemade bread. Need I say more?
- Two-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies: I remember the first time around with these glorious bad boys, I could not keep my hands off of them. It’s entirely certain that I’ll be making another batch of these cookies with my next jar of nut or seed butter!
- Vegan Apple Crisp: Since it was such a huge hit at my food science club meeting, I had to remake it back at home! SO hard to not eat copious amounts of it. Good thing half of this dessert is high fiber fruit!
- Vegan Ginger Cookies: My love for gingerbread rekindled ever since baking these cookies. I can’t get enough of them and I’ll never forget how glorious that massive hand-sized cookie I baked for my birthday!
- Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake: Speaking of birthdays, this chocolate cake is another amazing dessert for the holidays! Who doesn’t love a good dose of chocolate that can be enjoyed both for breakfast and dessert?
…don’t forget to check out this entire post dedicated to holiday recipes!
- “How To Get Away With Murder”: First off, this television show has wrecked me. Most of the main characters are murderers. People sleep with each other all the time. Criminals are made to be humanized. And I’m living for this show. Many characters are poignant and ambitious critical thinkers who have a serious way with words (but I’m particularly biased to Wes Gibbins) and the plot twists are magnetizing. This isn’t to say that the world of law and killing should be glamorized in such a way. People may perceive this show as so, but personally, I discovered that A) law is NOT for me, B) I would perish in a courtroom, and C) in comparison to Annalise Keating’s life, I have it pretty solid.
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000): By 2000, I mean the adaptation starring Jim Carrey. I haven’t even seen the current film yet, but honestly, I don’t know how I feel about a green furry who’s been dialed down in terms of anger issues for the sake of being more relatable. In this case, there are other ways you can defy tradition without disrespecting it. Anyhow, I also am not sure if it’s nostalgia that’s blown me in the face or if I’m just that invested in the holiday spirit, BUT I seriously adore this movie. Lighthearted, witty, somewhat cliche, and on top of that, Jim Carrey is the PERFECT Grinch. Come on–he eats onions and glass, burns down an entire Christmas tree, and nearly throws a child in a mail chute. You cannot picture any more badass hero than that. Not to mention, we all, at some point, can relate to the Grinch. Personally, I’d say this moment symbolizes my entire life (minus the first-degree exploitation).
- “The Final Table”: Countless culinary geniuses and renowned chefs who own Michelin-star restaurants all compete in this series of international cuisine-themed challenges to please ambassadors of the nations–if they do not suffice in the first round, they face a showdown to wow their next judge, who is always a famous chef of that particular country. All of these contestants are quite cultured and genuine, plus the international chefs really showcase drive, creativity, and passion in their culinary artwork. Not to mention–the setting is beautifully decked out and the chefs actually seem to focus on every detail and effort in their dishes, unlike most of the televised shows on Food Network.
- Rent (2005): How do you measure a year in the life…measure in love! Seasons of love, that is. If you get that musical reference, you deserve a Christmas cookie. Even though this movie doesn’t necessarily center around Christmas in itself, it does first take place on Christmas Eve where the bohemian protagonists befriend each other and learn how to treasure their friendships through the thick and thin, which include suffering from HIV/AIDS, housing issues, adultery, and drug addiction. It’s quite a heavy musical in itself, but you’ll absolutely love the upbeat songs and light shed on relevant topics that may seem taboo today.
- Anna and the Apocalypse (2017): Admittedly, I was not entirely enthusiastic to watch this unlikely Christmas movie. But afterwards, I ended up enjoying the movie way more than I initially thought–even more than my dad who came up with the notion to see it! You’d think that a musical about high schoolers in a zombie apocalypse sound quite silly, and it absolutely is…and I shamelessly adore it. I will say, even though the actors aren’t the best singers (well, they classify themselves as actors for a reason), they do execute their characters well and have fun with the songs, which is all that matters.
OTHER HOLIDAY-THEMED FAVORITES
- Coconut Pandan waffles: No words can fully accentuate how delicious Pandan waffles are. They were a childhood favorite–I’ve been munching on them over and over again ever since my relatives came back with vegan-friendly options for me. I have to replicate these waffles, just as a healthier alternative to enjoy them more than once a day, haha! I haven’t found the original recipe just yet, but this one comes quite close (here’s a non-vegan version). Lay them out like Christmas trees on a plate just as pictured above!
- Michael Buble’s Christmas album: We all listen to it this time of year. Of course I have to include this album which is packed with the best holiday songs ever!
- Lakanto brownie mix: It doubles fantastically as cacao powder for baking and hot chocolate! The last time I made brownies with this mix was a success as well. My next batch will just include some peanut butter to replicate the Tender Greens’ vegan peanut butter brownies!
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