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  2. Dec 7, 2023

Celebrate the Season With Festive Plant-Based Recipes

Celebrate the season with Colorful Potato Pancakes, No-Bake Fruit and Oat Balls, and other healthful vegan recipes that Physicians Committee Food for Life instructors share at their own holiday gatherings.

No-Bake Fruit and Oat Balls

Fruit and Oat Balls

From Mary Montequin

This recipe is very forgiving and accepting of any dried fruits your family enjoys. It is great for little hands to create, because there is no baking involved. Once an adult has mixed the ingredients, tiny hands are free to roll away. It does get sticky, so keep a little bowl of water to keep your hand stick free. During Christmas, I roll the balls in coconut for a snowball effect.


2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup cashews, unsalted
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup packed dates
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-5 teaspoons water
1/4 cup raisins (I use golden), or other dried fruits, like cranberries, apricots, or cherries

  1. In a food processor, add the oats, cashews, hemp, and cinnamon until the mix is coarse flour consistency.
  2. Add the dates, and mix again.
  3. Add vanilla and small amounts of water as needed.
  4. Add raisins or any other fruit of your choice.
  5. The goal is to arrive and maintain a flour/paste consistency that will hold together and not crumble.
  6. Roll the dough into balls of a size you choose but no larger than will fit nicely into the center of your palm. (Your hands will pick up bits of the sticky dough as you roll. Using small drops of water in the palm of your hand can help. So will washing the dough off with water or wiping it off with paper towels during the process.)
  7. Refrigerate the cookies.

Colorful Potato Pancakes

Colorful Potato Pancakes

From Tracy Childs

Also known as latkes in our Jewish household, these are so delicious “you will want to make from latkes alone a meal,” to quote from the Love and Knishes cookbook by Sara Kasdan! This is not much like her recipe, because you don’t need to “grate potatoes all day” to make them! They’re also vegan and oil-free and therefore guilt-free! If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, you can get your veggies prepared very quickly. Serve with unsweetened applesauce and/or vegan sour cream.


Makes about 14 pancakes

1 16-ounce package oil-free, salt-free frozen hash browns, thawed
1 medium zucchini, finely chopped or grated (about 2 cups) 
1 small, sweet potato, finely chopped or grated (about 1 cup) 
1 large carrot, finely chopped or grated (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup ground flax seeds, ground
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard 
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oat flour (you can use potato, arrowroot, or tapioca flour if avoiding grains for Passover)
Salt and pepper and other seasonings, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cover 2 or more sheet pans with parchment paper or silicon baking sheet.
  2. Place the thawed hash browns in a large bowl. Prepare the other veggies and mix with the hash browns.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flax and water, and then add remaining ingredients except the oat flour and dry seasonings.
  4. Add this to the vegetable bowl, and toss well, then add the flour and any remaining seasonings, using your hands to evenly distribute the flour and wet mixture.
  5. Scoop about 1/2 cup of potato mixture onto the sheet, and shape with your hands into a pancake shape. Repeat with the remaining mix.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for another 15 minutes, or to your desired level of crispness. Top with the condiment of your choice.

Chef’s Note: You can use your own freshly grated russet potatoes instead of the hash browns, but they usually contain more water, so you can dry them out by spreading them on a dish towel, rolling up the towel, and squeezing out excess moisture over the sink.

Sufganiyot (Fried Donut) Swaps

Sufganiyot (Fried Donut) Swaps

From Diane Garber

Instead of fried donuts (sufganiyot) on Hanukkah, round fruit options can easily satisfy a sweet tooth.

  1. Apple circles, cores removed, can be lightly coated with nut butter and topped with nuts, dried fruit, chia seeds, etc.
  2. Dried pineapple rings can also be lightly coated with a tofu-maple syrup sweetened lime sauce and topped with a light sprinkling of toasted, unsweetened coconut.

Winter Holiday Salad With Kale, Persimmon, and Pomegranate

Winter Holiday Salad With Kale, Persimmon, and Pomegranate

From Sandi Rechenmacher

Serves 6

This festive kale salad is tossed in a tangy, sweet citrus maple dressing along with seasonal delights, persimmon, and pomegranate.



1 bunch curly kale (8 cups, torn or chopped, small)
2 medium Fuyu persimmons, chopped
1 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
1 cup pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup walnut pieces


Place the kale, persimmon, pomegranate, pineapple, and walnuts in a large bowl and set aside.



3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (or lime juice, lemon juice, or a combination)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Place the vinegar, orange (citrus) juice, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a mason jar, seal with a lid, and shake vigorously to blend.
  2. Pour the desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss until well coated (you may not need it all). Serve and enjoy!
  • Curly kale may be substituted with dinosaur or baby kale, or lettuce of your choice.
  • If using kale, you can assemble most of the salad in advance, as kale doesn’t wilt as easily as other greens.
  • Prepped kale may be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days. For best results, add the dressing and walnuts just before serving.
  • Deseed a pomegranate 2-3 days in advance to make salad prep much faster.
  • Prepare the dressing up to 5 days in advance. Allow to stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, shake before dressing.

Happy Holidays Flavored Water

From Katherine Lawrence

This hydrating holiday beverage is not only pretty but also light in flavor and refreshing! Adding the optional ginger can help settle over-indulgent holiday tummies.


2-3 cinnamon sticks, whole
1/4 cup fresh cranberries left whole
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped or crushed to open
1 granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1-2” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced (optional)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a half gallon jar and fill with water.
  2. Cover and tilt gently to mix.
  3. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Strain the flavored water into a serving pitcher.
  5. Refill the half gallon jar one more time and let sit for the day or until guests arrive.
  6. Combine for a gallon of flavored water!

Cranberry Bread

Cranberry Bread

From Ashley Gleason


Makes 1 loaf

2 cups flour, sifted
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup applesauce
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water)
1 teaspoon orange peel, grated
3/4 cup orange juice
1 cup golden raisins
2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
  2. To make the flax egg: Stir ground flaxseed and water together and let stand for about 5 minutes.
  3. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together into a large bowl.
  4. Add applesauce, flax egg, orange peel, and orange juice to dry ingredients and stir just until mixture is evenly moist.
  5. Fold in raisins and cranberries.
  6. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy!

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