Want to prepare the ultimate comfort food dishes for your guests this holiday season, but trying to embrace a healthier or plant-based lifestyle? Try the vegan versions of holiday favorites that have tickled the palates of everyone from Vice President Kamala Harris to actor Danny Glover, author Dr. Cornel West, and top execs at Google and YouTube.
According to a March 2020 study, “nearly 10 million Americans now identify as ‘vegan,’” with many more identifying as vegetarian or plant-based. Chances are someone (or several guests) at your Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas or New Year’s gathering will prefer healthier, plant-based versions of old holiday comfort foods.
Chef Rene Johnson’s vegan and healthier traditional soul food cookbook, From My Heart to Your Table, has arrived just in time for the holidays.
Her unique coffee table-style cookbook shares easy to follow recipes, along with personal stories and scrapbook-style pages, and tips on how to make healthier, plant-based versions of everyone’s favorite appetizers, entrees, and of course, desserts.
Chef Rene has taken her grandmother’s homespun southern soul food recipes and made them every bit as flavorful and culturally relevant, without many of the harmful fats added to traditional comfort food dishes.
“Vice President Kamala Harris has a sweet tooth,” says Chef Rene. “Her favorites were the desserts I made for her event, like my mini sweet potato pies, mini vegan cupcakes, and mini homemade vegan chocolate chip cookies.”
“Actor Danny Glover gravitated towards my vegan beans and rice. That was his favorite by far,” says Rene.
As far as more traditionally prepared, yet healthier dishes, Rene shares, “Dr. Cornell West enjoyed the jerk turkey meatballs, mini mac and cheese bites, and he also loved my vegan red beans and rice. Then he dug into my blackberry jam cupcakes.”
From My Heart to Your Table features all of the celebratory holiday food appetizers, entrees, and desserts Chef Rene Johnson is famous for, from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Washington, DC.
Some traditional fare featured in Chef Rene’s cookbook includes: hot water corn bread, junky black eyed peas aka “cold day chicken soup,” sticky barbeque wings, big ol’ pot of gumbo, grandmother’s fried chicken, off-the-hook ox-tails, the “mac attack” mac and cheese, salmon croquettes, stewed salmon and grits, and more. “The beautiful part is that you can mix and match traditional and vegan dishes for the holidays. It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” she says.
And the desserts will make your head spin: sweet potato pecan pie, peach cobbler, blackberry jam cupcakes, vegan chocolate chip cookies, and her signature “Mama Cake (yellow cake with chocolate icing).”