For me growing up, Christmas Eve dinner was a big deal. It was a huge feast of Italian food. Homemade manicotti, lasagna or ravioli were the main attraction, along with a big antipasti tray and plenty of meatballs. On Christmas day, we usually had turkey with all the trimmings. In fact, Christmas day dinner was not that much different from Thanksgiving dinner.
Things have changed, and now that we live far away, we rarely celebrate Christmas with my family of origin. The menu has changed a lot, too.
I still make a special Italian style dinner for Christmas Eve (without the meatballs). I make vegan lasagna or manicotti (raw and cooked), stuffed with homemade cashew ricotta ‘cheese’ and green vegetables, or baked ziti, layered with fresh tomato sauce, cashew ‘cheese’ and vegetables. My kids do not follow a mostly-raw diet, as I do; rather, their diet consists of a combination of lots of raw foods along with whole, vegetable-rich, cooked vegan foods. I usually make both a cooked and raw version of the special foods and serve them with a big salad and lots of vegetables.
Christmas day dinner in my house has not yet developed into a tradition. We all look forward to a relaxing day, and we are rarely up to making an elaborate meal. We’ll sometimes make the traditional turkey accompaniments, like cranberries, stuffing and pumpkin pie, but we rarely make a production about it.
Whatever your tradition, the foods can be adapted to suit your healthy eating habits.
Below is my recipe for “Lasagna Alive”, my raw, low glycemic, gluten free version of an old family tradition.
I usually make this on Christmas Eve, along with a cooked version for my kids, using Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna noodles, either Amy's Family Marinara or Whole Foods or other brand of sugar and oil free marinara sauce and we bake it instead of dehydrate it.
The same fixings can be used to make stuffed shells, ravioli, baked ziti or manicotti.
My book Healthy Holiday Traditions contains recipes for all the variations plus a whole lot mroe.
It's on special til the end of the month HERE:
- 4 – 6 large zucchini or yellow squash, peeled if desired
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 recipes cheese
- 1 recipe marinara sauce
- 4 cups greens, massaged with salt to wilt
- 2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped and marinated in salt to soften
- Using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice squash lengthwise. Slice to about the same thickness, or a little bit thinner, than regular lasagna noodles. Place squash slices in a flat baking dish and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit at room temperature 10 minutes so that they soften a bit.
- Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Make Cashew Macadamia Cheese
Make marinara sauce
Assemble the Lasagna
- Drain excess liquid from the squash
- Line the bottom of baking dish with a thin layer of sauce.
- Lay squash slices on the bottom of the pan, slightly overlapping to completely cover.
- Spread the cheese over the squash.
- Layer greens over cheese
- Pour the sauce over the greens and spread evenly.
- Place another layer of squash over the cheese.
- Spread mushrooms over the squash
- Pour the sauce over the mushrooms and spread evenly.
- Place another layer of squash over the sauce.
- Continue to layer until you run out of ingredients or fill the pan, whichever comes first, ending with a layer of squash covered with sauce and drizzled with cheese.
- Warm (optional): The lasagna can be eaten as-is, warmed in a dehydrator, or warmed in an oven that has been turned to warm. Dehydrate until warm for 2-4 hours, until desired texture is achieved and the excess liquid has dehydrated away and the lasagna holds together when sliced.
- If you do not have a dehydrator, turn oven on to the lowest setting. Put a thermometer in to monitor. After it has reached at about 110° F, turn the oven off and set the pan inside to warm.
- 2 cups tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato powder concentrate (or 1 cup sun dried tomatoes soaked for a couple of hours in purified water to rehydrate)
- 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoons dried basil
Process all ingredients in food processor until thick and slightly chunky. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Cashew Macadamia “Cheese”
- 1/2 cup cashews, preferably soaked 6 hours or longer
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, either unsoaked or soaked for 2 – 4
- Large lemon, juiced
- 1/2 cup water (or more if needed)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Place nuts in blender with 1/2 cup of water, salt and lemon juice.
- Blend on high speed for several minutes. Mixture should be thick and creamy.
- Adjust amount of water for desired consistency, depending on how the cheese will be used.
These recipes are variations of recipes in my eBook Healthy Holiday Traditions, which is loaded with holiday treats including the familiar holiday favorites like gingerbread cookies, latkes and “egg” nog, apple pie, Christmas cookies, pumpkin pie and so much more
Enjoy your holidays, and make some new traditions that include healthy choices and lots of self care!
Whats your favorite holiday food? Comment below and be sure to share recipes for healthier versions than the ones you grew up on.