Three Plant-Based Side Dish Recipes For Your Holiday Dinners

By Anika Nayak

This holiday season, embrace healthy by bringing delicious plants to the dinner table. Elevate your taste buds by transforming nutritious veggies into all-time family favorites, for vegans and non-vegans alike. Francesca Bonadonna, founder of the Plantifully Based blog and author of the upcoming cookbook, Plantiful: Over 75 Vibrant Vegan Foods, encourages families to get creative in the kitchen and transform plant-based foods into hearty and nourishing side dishes.

“The holidays are a great time to reinvent some of your favorite dishes in a vegan version. It is a fun time to get creative and try something new,” she says in an exclusive interview with Healthified. “These dishes don’t need to be complicated. Make it simple and flavorful so you can enjoy yourself and not have to spend hours in the kitchen.”

Francesca has developed hundreds of recipes, which are perfect to add on your dinner table this holiday season. Here are 3 of our favorite ones that can be prepared in no-time, but will surely leave your guests impressed and craving for more!

Pomegranate Cucumber Salad

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish


  • ½ a cucumber, chopped
  • ½ a pomegranate (about 2 oz of seeds)
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grade A maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • fresh parsley (for garnish, optional)


  • Chop the cucumber into quarters and drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  • In a large bowl add the chickpeas, cucumber and pomegranate seeds. 
  • In a separate small bowl add the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, maple syrup and salt together. Whisk together.
  • Pour on top of the salad and mix together. Garnish with fresh parsley or lemon.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Course Soup


  • slow-cooker


  • ¾ cup vegan ground beef
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon organic sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ cup uncooked brown rice
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

Topping Ideas

  • green onion, chopped
  • vegan cheese
  • vegan sour cream


  • Add all the ingredients into the slow cooker.
  • Fill the empty can of tomato sauce halfway up with water and add it to the slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for 4½ – 5 hours, depending on how thick you want the soup to be.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  • When finished, add any toppings you want!

Check out Francesca’s first cookbook, Plantiful: Over 75 Vibrant Vegan Comfort Foods, launching on January 12, 2021. Pre-ordering is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. To explore more of Francesca’s recipes and learn more about her cookbook, visit plantifullybasedblog.com!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Course Appetizer


  • 8×8 inch (20×20 cm) square baking dish


  • 1 (16 oz/454g) bag frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14 oz/396g) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (8 oz/227g) tub vegan cream cheese
  • ½ cup (120g) vegan sour cream
  • ½ cup (56g) shredded or grated vegan parmesan, divided
  • 1 cup (112g) vegan mozzarella shreds, divided
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F (176˚C). Wrap the thawed spinach in a paper towel and squeeze out the excess water (this step is very important; if the spinach is too water, the dip will be less creamy).
  • In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, garlic, artichoke hearts, vegan cream cheese, vegan sour cream, half of the vegan parmesan, half of the vegan mozzarella shreds, salt, and pepper until well combined.
  • Transfer the mixture to an 8×8 inch (20×20 cm) square baking dish and sprinkle the remaining vegan parmesan and vegan mozzarella shreds over the top.
  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until bubbling.
  • Broil on high for 5 minutes to brown the top slightly and serve warm!