Christmas Cranberry Nut Loaf

Christmas Cranberry Nut Loaf

It was the summer of ’87 or maybe ’93…I don’t really know, I’m pretty old, but anyway, I was visiting the Needmore Commune in Brown County Indiana when I was introduced to my first Adventist-style veggie loaf.  It was basic whole plant food fare as it existed back then (whenever then was) and I fell in love immediately.  I pestered and harangued until I got the recipe.

Well, this isn’t that, but it was my first step to getting here.  Between that time and the internet, I only knew of one way to make these things.  That’s when a miracle happened.   I found a website that allowed you to choose ingredients from a list, organized into several categories with specific instructions like “pick one” or “choose several” on a form, and click submit. Then it did what you would expect a magic screen in ’99 (roughly, I really have no idea) would do; it spits out your very own custom Adventist-style veggie loaf complete with measurements, ingredients, and processes!  It was called “The Magical Loaf Studio” and I beat that thing to death trying combination after combination and eventually came to understand the formula, which goes as follows:

Protein: 2 cups of some whole plant food protein source.  Lentils are the most popular but any legume or tofu can go here.  Beans and things are always mashed a bit.  You don’t want a loaf of refried beans, but whole legumes aren’t going to stick together.  Every pulse and plant protein source has its sweet spot and really, the only way to hit it consistently is practice.

Carbohydrate: 1 cup of some starchy whole plant food that will “gel” or set up when cooling.  Believe it or not, cornflakes were the most popular ingredient here, but rice, oats, quinoa, and other grains and tubers found their way into this bin.

Nuts and/or seeds: 1/4 to 1/2 cups of nuts or seeds.  Walnuts were the go-to, but pecans, sunflower seeds, chestnuts, and even peanut butter might stand in for this component.

Liquid: This was used to steam-saute veggies and add enough moisture for the loaf to stick together and hold a shape when mixed and pressed into the pan.

Herbs and Seasonings: This is where the Adventist-style veggie loaf would get its theme.  Loaves were flavored to emulate some other flavors from the non-Adventist menu such as a Turkey loaf, Italian loaf, and even a BBQ bean loaf.

Binding agent: This is a whole plant food that will hold everything together.  Ground flaxseed is my favorite but sticky rice, chickpea flour, and chia seeds wouldn’t be out of place here.

Savory flavoring: Something to hit the salt sensors on your tongue goes here.  Tamari is my go-to, but most people just use salt.  I have seen miso, vegan “chicken” broth, coconut aminos and just plain old soy sauce take this position.

Those general categories will be in all of the best Adventist-style veggie loaves you will enjoy, and the Christmas Cranberry Nut Loaf is no exception.

Christmas Cranberry Nut Loaf

December 20, 2023
: Varies
: 20 min
: Medium

Christmas Cranberry Nut Loaf, a symphony of flavors where the hearty lentils and black beans meld with the sweet, earthy notes of mashed sweet potato, punctuated by the toothy mouthfeel of the walnut meal.

  • Protein: 1 cup cooked lentils, 1 cup cooked black beans
  • Carbohydrate: 1 cup mashed sweet potato, ½ cup quick oats (dry)
  • Nuts/Seeds: ½ cup walnuts
  • Vegetables: 1 diced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 cup chopped mushrooms, ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • Liquid: ¼ cup cranberry juice
  • Herbs & Seasonings: 1 tsp each thyme, rosemary, sage, black pepper
  • Binding Agent: 2 TB flaxseed meal
  • Savory Flavoring: 2 TB Tamari, 2 TB cranberry sauce (for glazing)
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Step 2 Grind walnuts into a coarse meal and place in a large bowl.
  • Step 3 Sauté onion, garlic, mushrooms, and bell pepper until soft.
  • Step 4 Combine sautéed veggies, lentils, black beans, sweet potato, quick oats, flaxseed meal, herbs, and Tamari in the bowl.
  • Step 5 Mash just a bit with a potato-masher, and mix well adding cranberry juice only if and as needed.
  • Step 6 Adjust consistency with cranberry juice or quick oats as required.
  • Step 7 Press the mixture into the loaf pan and glaze with cranberry sauce.
  • Step 8 Bake for 45-60 minutes.
  • Step 9 Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
  • Step 10 Serve with roasted veggies or a winter salad.

If you have the time, consider making a batch of our Vegan Cranberry Glaze for the topper.

This recipe and variants of it have been floating around for at least 30 years.

Here are some other takes:

Avo Feast’s Christmas Cranberry Nut loaf falls into the traditional Adventist-style loaf.  Note that they stick mostly to whole plant foods and avoid adding oil.

The Wild Gut Project has a Christmas Cranberry Nut Loaf that uses oil, but their use of tempeh and chestnuts is pretty creative and sure to spur some ideas for your own holiday loaf.  Substitute out the oil and this can easily be a whole plant food dish.

A Bit of the Good Stuff has another Christmas Cranberry Nut Loaf worth considering as well.  They mention oil in the recipe, but could certainly make it without it using some more broth for steam-sauteing.


For the sweetest sweet potato, cook for three hours at 300F.  This allows the natural enzymes to quickly convert the starches as it cooks.

Estimated Nutritional Information (per serving):

  • Calories: 200-250
  • Protein: 9-12g
  • Fiber: 6-8g
  • Fat: 3-5g
  • Sodium: 200-300mg
  • Sugars: 4-6g