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Your holiday meal doesn't have to include meat

December 18, 1998
Web posted at: 2:45 p.m. EST (1945 GMT)

From Medical Correspondent Linda Ciampa

Tofurkey
This vegetarian turkey is made from tofu and is called "Tofurkey"  

(CNN) -- The holiday meal usually centers around some form of meat -- be it ham, turkey or roast beef. But you don't have to go hungry this season if you're a vegetarian.

One alternative is "the unturkey" made from wheat gluten. "It doesn't taste exactly like turkey," said one sampler. "It's more spicy than turkey."

The growing focus on healthy eating has many people craving a change and even considering a meatless holiday meal. But, vegetarian cookbook author Diana Shaw doesn't think cooks should focus on what they won't include in the meal. Instead, her vegetarian cooking celebrates the produce of the season.

"I don't refer to it as meatless cooking, because when you call it meatless that implies something is missing -- that would be like referring to French cuisine as jalapeño pepperless," she says.

Shaw's suggestion for a vegetarian holiday meal includes spinach salad with orange slices, sweet potato soup topped with cinnamon, a nest of couscous filled with peppers, dried fruits and chick peas, and a steamed apple cake.

"This is really, really good food that happens to be healthy," says Shaw.

TAKE A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS:
TRADITIONAL:
roast duck
stuffing
broccoli with hollandaise sauce
cranberry sauce
roll
pecan pie

TOTAL CALORIES = 1205
TOTAL FAT = 55 grams
VEGETARIAN:
spinach salad
sweet potato soup
Christmas couscous
dessert



TOTAL CALORIES = 930
TOTAL FAT = 7 grams

The numbers are just a fringe benefit in Shaw's opinion. "You don't cook from the nutrition numbers, you cook from the flavors," she says.

But if your holiday table won't be complete without the traditional turkey centerpiece, there's always Tofurkey -- turkey made from tofu. The reviews may be mixed, but Tofurkey, complete with stuffing, comes in at less than 200 calories and five grams of fat per serving.


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