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Holiday appetizers for a plant-based diet

Get festive for your next holiday party… and feel good about what you’re eating.

In our kitchen today, Chef Kat Marris,, shares her recipes for a Plant-Based Holiday Charcuterie Board, Cranberry Cashew Cheese Ball and Gingerbread Cookie Hummus.

Here are the basics for a good plant-based charcuterie board:
Start with a giant platter, wooden board, marble slab etc.. then add to it:
Something sweet: Dates, fig jams, berry preserves and my gingerbread cookie hummus (recipe in the next segment) is a good option too!
Something salty: Olives, nut cheeses, plant-based deli slices and sausages.
Dips: My cranberry cashew cheese ball (recipe in the next segment), mustards, hummus.
Veggies: Peppers, radish, carrots, celery go crazy with them!
Crackers/Bread: Pita bread, french baguettes, whole wheat crackers,
Fruit/Nuts: Grapes, pomegranates, apples and berries play well with most flavors! I also like to scatter roasted or candied pecans, walnuts, pistachios and almonds around the board.
Wine: Everyone has a personal preference, but I like to have a white and a red on hand for guests.

Cranberry Cashew Cheese Ball
Makes one large ball
1 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
3 tablespoons green onion, chopped
1 container (8 oz) vegan plain cream cheese (I used Miyoko’s)
1 cup vegan shredded cheddar cheese
To roll the cheese ball in:
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds


Place cashews in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes to one hour or until tender. Drain and discard water.

Place the drained cashews in a food processor along with the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, coconut aminos and green onion. Blend until very smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as needed.

Add blended mixture to a large bowl and add cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Stir until mixture is well combined.

Line a small bowl with plastic wrap, and scoop the cheese ball mixture into the bowl. Gather the sides of the plastic wrap and twist to form a ball. Let the cheese ball firm up in the freezer for about an hour, or for a couple of hours in the fridge.

Once the cheese ball is firm, remove from the plastic wrap, and press the cranberries and pumpkin seeds onto the outside of the ball. This will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days but can also be frozen for one month.

Gingerbread Cookie Hummus
Makes 6 servings
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (measure after you’ve melted the coconut oil)
2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of ground nutmeg

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the food processor if needed. Don’t forget to taste your hummus and make sure it’s no longer gritty. If needed add more melted coconut oil to thin or more maple syrup to sweeten. Serve with apple slices, pear slices, pretzels etc..

About Chef Kat Marris:

Chef Kat Marris is a local Indianapolis chef that focuses on making vegetables your friend! She writes and develops healthy recipes for her blog, Fresh and Balanced as well as shares healthy eating tips and tricks on her Instagram (@katmarris). Passionate about plant-based eating and cooking, she brings her expertise as a chef to meal prepping dishes that taste delicious and are easy to make!

To learn more, visit:
Instagram: @katmarris
Facebook: Fresh and Balanced