A Very Vegan Christmas

Carrot cake bites
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Áine Carlin’s alternative Christmas eats…

Got a vegan coming to dinner this Christmas and at a loss what to serve them? Or looking for a divine vegan meal for yourself? Here’s a crackingly tasty Christmas treat idea from the Keep it Vegan cookbook by Áine Carlin, who also has some tips for those tempted to go vegan.

Vegan Christmas – it’s not what most people have in mind for the festive season. What would you say to them?
“I actually enjoy Christmas more since turning vegan. In fact, you’d be surprised how few changes you have to make to enjoy an entirely ‘Vegan Christmas’. I still indulge in mince pies, Christmas pud and I even have a full-blown roast dinner with all the trimmings on Christmas Day (vegan-style, of course) so I never feel like I’m missing out. The bonus to all this being that I don’t feel bloated or lethargic in the same way I used to; plus, I never have to make that ‘healthy eating’ resolution in the New Year. It’s a truly liberating way of enjoying all that wonderfully festive food without the usual guilt.”

And for our readers who are still considering the big step, here’s what Áine has to say about turning vegan … the easy way.
“Go easy on yourself and take each day at a time. It will probably take a while to get into the swing of things but every small change counts. Try different dishes until you discover the ones you really like and. With Keep it Vegan I’ve tried to demystify the many misconceptions surrounding veganism in the hope that a friendly, laid back approach will encourage more people to give this wonderful lifestyle a go.”

Makes 12-14

These are made using just the natural sugars found in dates and raisins and don’t even require any cooking or baking – just blitz, roll, chill and eat! Isn’t that perfect?

* 1 small carrot, grated
* 150g dates, stoned and roughly chopped
* 250g pecan nuts
* 50g raisins
* grated zest of 1 clementine or orange
* ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
* ¼ tsp ground ginger
* pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
* 50g desiccated coconut

1 Squeeze out any excess liquid from the grated carrot.
2 Place all the ingredients, apart from the coconut, into a food processor and whizz until the mixture comes together in a large clump, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times, if necessary.
3 Line a plate or baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
4 Take a tsp of the mixture, roll into a ball and place on the greaseproof paper. Repeat to make 12–14 golf ball-sized spheres in total.
5 Put the desiccated coconut into a bowl and roll each ball in the coconut to coat. Place the balls on the lined plate and refrigerate overnight.

For more festive delights, check out these recipes from Áine’s cookbook:

‘Pecan-Topped Sweet Potato Bake’, ‘Pan-fried Paprika Spiced Sprouts’, ‘Braised Cabbage and Apple’, ‘Cinnamon Citrus Cranberry Sauce’ and the ‘Chocolate Chesnut Pie’. They sound yum!

Recipe from Keep it Vegan by Áine Carlin, published by Kyle Books. Photography by Ali Allen.


For more festive delights, check out Áine’s magnificent vegan lasagne here.

Keep up to date with Áine’s recipes at, read her advice on how to stay vegan here and stay tuned for Donal Skehan’s Irish whiskey truffles coming soon here on IMAGE Daily.


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