How to Navigate the Non-GMO Main Dish at your Holiday Celebrations

Submitted by ameyer on December 17, 2014

No matter what you are celebrating this season, the holidays are a great time to enjoy Non-GMO foods from cultures around the world. Unlike at Thanksgiving, where people expect to see a Turkey, there is a lot more flexibility with December Holiday meals. If you are still wanting to serve meat, salmon is great option, plus you can take this opportunity to read up on sustainable seafood practices. Tamales are a traditional Mexican meal served around the holidays and make for a great interactive option; you can get friends and family involved in the preparation. The tamale recipe below is both vegan and gluten free. Latkes with homemade applesauce are a nice nod to Hanukah traditions and a wonderful way to use any potatoes and apples you have on-hand.


Tamales (Vegan) by the Salty Tomato

* Use organic, non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Filling


  • ½ cup sautéed mushrooms
  • 2 cups ¼ inch peeled and cubed sweet potato (about 1 very large sweet potato)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 tablespoons of pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 4 ounce can of mild green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon lime juice (about ½ medium sized lime)
  • ½ cup Mexican blend vegan cheese (Daiya is great!)



  • 2 cups masa harina/organic corn flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cubed vegan butter (Nutiva Buttery Spread is a great option)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons vegan chicken base or vegetable bouillon


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add dried corn husk, remove from heat and let soak for at least 1 hour.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Filling

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl coat sweet potato cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Turn out sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender and edges are brown.

Drain black beans and chilies place in a large mixing bowl. Rough chop reconstituted mushrooms and add to bowl. Add remaining ingredients, baked sweet potatoes, jalapeños, cilantro, salt, pepper, liquid smoke and lime juice. Stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning.


Place masa harina, baking powder, garlic, paprika, cumin and cayenne in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with a whisk attachment. Mix on low until ingredients are well incorporated. Add cold butter to flour mixture and mix on low until butter is crumbled with flour mixture.

Place 2 cups water and no chicken base in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute until no chicken base is dissolved. Briefly stir.

With mixer on medium speed very slowly add water and chicken base mixture. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Whisk on high for an additional 10 minutes. Mixture should be thick enough to coat a spoon.

Tamale Assembly (See notes on size.)

Tear 1 or 2 corn husk into 24 strips to tie tamales.

Place 1 corn husk on working surface horizontally with the long side facing you. Spread approximately 2 tablespoons of masa mixture 2 inches wide on the third of corn husk that is closest to you leaving 1 inch on either side place 2 tablespoons of sweet potato and black bean mixture in the middle to masa. Top sweet potato and black bean mixture with 1 teaspoon cheese. Fold side closest to you over to envelope sweet potato mixture in masa. Fold in both sides like a burrito and roll closed. Tie tamale roll with a strip of corn husk in a square knot. Repeat process with remaining corn husks.

Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and place a steamer basket or a bamboo steamer section in the bottom. Line the steamer with 2-3 corn husks. Place wrapped tamales standing upright on steamer. Cover pot with a damp dish cloth and cover pot with lid. Steam for 90 minutes checking half way that there is still water in the bottom. Remove tamales and serve immediately.

Cooked tamales will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or can be frozen. Enjoy!


-Masa Harina corn flour is very different than cornmeal. It is a much finer grain and often white in color. From finest to coarsest, ground corn is Masa Harina, Corn Meal, Polenta.

-The size of your tamales all depends on the size of your corn husks. It might take a few tries to get the size just right. Mine came out about 3 inches long and 2-3 per serving. This recipe makes approximately 24 small tamales.


Macadamia Nut and Yogurt Crusted Salmon by Robert Irvine

* Use organic, non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.


  • 1 fresh salmon* fillet (about 1 ½ lbs), pin bones and skin removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons organic butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
  • ¼ cup organic vanilla yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts (Royal Hawaiian Orchards are so good!)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Season salmon with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. Combine melted butter, stone-ground mustard, yogurt and macadamia nuts in a bowl.

In a separate bowl combine bread crumbs and chopped chives and season with salt and pepper. Spread yogurt mixture over top of fish then evenly coat fish with the bread crumb mixture. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, for medium doneness.

Take this opportunity to learn a little bit more about the sustainable and safe seafood options in our area through Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.


Gluten-Free Latkes & Apple Sauce by the Gluten-Free Goddess

* Use organic, non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.


  • 3 large starchy potatoes (Idaho baking potatoes work well), peeled
  • ½ small to medium onion, minced
  • ½ to ⅔ cup brown rice flour, or all-purpose gluten-free mix
  • 2 to 3 pasture-raised organic eggs, beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • Organic high heat coconut oil (try Nutiva)

Looking for vegan latkes? Check out five recipes here.


Grate the potatoes by hand or in a food processor (follow manufacturer’s instructions for grating). Press the grated potatoes between clean towels to extract moisture.

In a large bowl, combine the grated potatoes with the onions and GF flour, then add the beaten eggs, sea salt, pepper. Stir well. Start with 2 eggs, and a half cup of GF flour; add more of each if you need to.

Heat a good inch and a half of coconut oil in a deep sided heavy skillet over high heat. Carefully drop the batter with a large spoon, or fork, into the hot oil, and press down with a spatula. This will make for lacy and irregular latkes.

Cook the latkes until they are golden on each side – crispy on the outside, and tender in the middle. This takes maybe five minutes, depending upon the size of the latke.

Remove the latkes with a slotted spatula and place on paper towels, to drain.

We keep the drained latkes warm in a hot oven, at 400°F, until all the latkes are ready to serve, latkes are best eaten hot from the pan.

Serve the latkes immediately with homemade applesauce (recipe below).

Cinnamon Applesauce

* Use organic, non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.


  • 8-9 assorted apples – peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened 100% organic apple juice
  • ½ cup water, more if needed
  • A small pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste


Place the chopped apples in large saucepan and add the apple juice and enough water to barely cover the apples. Add a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook the apples until they are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Mash the apples with a potato masher. Stir in the agave and cinnamon. Continue to cook over low heat until the apples are soft and all the excess liquid has cooked off; about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Serve at room temperature; or cover and store in an air-tight container and chill.


Khoresht e Haveej
* Use organic, non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.

This recipe is from one of Green America’s staff members whose father makes this carrot stew every year.


  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon- 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • ½ cup of yellow split peas & water (enough water to cover peas or 3:1 ratio)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3-4 dried Persian limes
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, depending on need and preference


Using a deep pot fry yellow onion in olive oil and then add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of turmeric, depending on flavor preference, stirring the seasoning into the fried onions. Add the peas to the mixture with enough water to fully cover the peas. Then add the tomato paste.

While the mixture starts heating up and cooking, cut the carrots into this matchsticks. Add the chopped carrots, water, and a dash of salt to the pot.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let simmer for 1-2 hours (the longer the better. With 30-60 minutes left of simmer, add dried Persian limes. Near the end of cooking, add lemon juice based on flavor preferences.

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