Inspiration from Meghan

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Unstuffed Stuffing


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Thanksgiving is coming up this weekend up here in Canada so I thought it my duty to offer you some bird-free dinner options, that could easily and deliciously function as full meal deals.

Now, given that I believe labels are for tin cans, not people, I would not refer to myself as a strict vegan or vegetarian (though so far this month, it looks like I have been), I am also not a huge fan of eating foods that have been cooked in the deep dark caverns of a bird. Is it just me or doesn’t that sound a little unappetizing?

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I am all for joining one and all with family over the holidays, and fortunately for me, after four years in this world, my family now eats wholly and completely the same way I do. This means bringing a massive quinoa salad to dinner is met with cheers. Yay for passive aggressive persuasion using delicious food.

See, if you make it delicious, they will follow. It is also important not to present your way of eating as being better than anyone else’s or make them feel bad about still wanting some bird or whatever. Just bring some goodies that could function as your whole meal if need be, you bring less attention to yourself, introduce others to your goods and then you can all sit down to a dinner that is as drama free as possible.

With that said and out of the way, this is my absolute favourite Unstuffed Stuffing. Using quinoa as the grain of choice and pumpkin seeds as the seed of choice, this is both rich in flavour and rich in protein. Add in the fats from high quality olive oil, the carbs from the grains and veggies and voila- a whole meal in one dish.

If you have other whole grains or seeds you love to use, go nuts (or seeds)! Millet and brown rice make great grain options, as do chopped pecans or sunflower seeds as pumpkin seed alternatives. Mix and match and make it your own.


Unstuffed Stuffing

1 cup quinoa (or whole grain of choice)
2 cups water
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups broccoli, coarsely chopped
two large handfuls baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds, or nut/seed of choice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbs honey
2 Tbs olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

  • Using a fine mesh sieve, thoroughly rinse whole grains until water runs clear. Place in pot
  • Add water, chopped onion and garlic.
  • Cover pot, bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add chopped broccoli on top of simmer grains and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • While cooking, lightly toast pumpkin seeds on low to medium heat in a dry pan. Remove once they become fragrant but not too browned.
  • Once all water has been absorbed, turn off stove, add spinach and cover. This will allow spinach to steam without getting overcooked.
  • Stir in olive oil and honey
  • Add in cranberries, sea salt and pepper
  • Serve warm or at room temperature

Question of The Day: What is your fave veg-friendly dish that makes for a great meal all on it’s own?

21 responses to “Unstuffed Stuffing”

  1. Nicole says:

    I will be making this this weekend for sure!

  2. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says:

    I can’t eat quinoa plain. I just don’t like the taste of it, but with all those good add ins that you included I could totally get on board with this dish.

    • Lindsay at Kitchen Operas says:

      This might sound weird, Samantha, but do you rinse your quinoa before you cook it? There’s a bitter coating that needs to be rinsed away for it to taste nice… (or you might just not like the taste of quinoa, but I thought it was worth checking)

  3. Lauren says:

    This looks like a great combination of ingredients. The thing about dried cranberries is that they are so hard to find without added sugar and vegetable oil. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to find no-sugar-added cranberries, and those bags of “Craisins” seem more like candy than fruit. What kind of cranberries do you use?

    • Valerie @ City|Life|Eats says:

      I have the same issue as well. I always end up using goji berries instead, even though they are more expensive, but I do miss dried cranberries. Would love to know if there is a kind without oil and/or added sugar.

      • Lindsay at Kitchen Operas says:

        Hear, here! I’d love to find a source for unsweetened, dried cranberries!

        • Karen says:

          At our local natural food store (Ottawa) I found dried cranberries that are organic and sweetened with apple juice. Hopefully, if you ask, your local store will bring them in for you :)

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      I’ve used the apple juice sweetened ones before, you could always make your own or, of course, use any dried fruit you like. Chopped apricots or currant could work well too.

  4. Sarah says:

    I made my own dried cranberries last year-for lack of a better option. I don’t mind them tart as I rarely eat them plain, but you could soak them in apple juice or whatnot, too. I just stuck them in the dehydrator-they took forever and a day.

  5. Re says:

    How is this vegan if it uses Honey?

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Oh! good point. I always forget the vegan-non-honey eaters. People use the terms so loosely (me too I suppose). Just sub in with sweetener of choice.

  6. Mar Marilag says:

    Thanks for visiting my site. Glad to see that my site is linked as an image source.

  7. Val says:

    Mmmm! I bet adding poultry seasoning (sage, thyme & marjoram) would give it an even more Thanksgiving-ey taste.

  8. Erika says:

    i made it and it doesn’t have much flavour. it needs more spices. plus, the quinoa was cooked too long (i think 12 minutes is perfect for quinoa, 20 minutes turns it into a mushy mess)

  9. Paulina says:

    Hi Meghan,
    I just wanted to say thank-you for the recipe! I was asked to bring a veggie dish to Thanksgiving dinner and this was perfect! It was quite the hit amongst the dinner table.

  10. Diane C. says:

    This looks delicious. Silly question, but would you serve it cold or hot at a Christmas dinner.

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