alive logo

A Unique Oktoberfest Menu—alive-Style!


The great German beer festival isn’t known for being particularly healthy. With iconic foods including sausages with sauerkraut and mustard, breaded meat schnitzel, fried potato balls stuffed with pork or beef, and giant, doughy pretzels made with refined white flour, the only green in sight is likely to be a parsley garnish.

But there’s no need to toss the bratwurst out with the bathwater. There are plenty of ways to add nutrition to your Oktoberfest menu. And these six heart-healthy versions of German recipes prove that flavour doesn’t just come from meat and oil. 

Plant-based white bean and walnut bratwurst sausages can be grilled to smoky perfection, and seared tofu can make for crunchy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside schnitzel. Meanwhile, spinach adds vitamins––along with a silky interior––to traditional potato dumplings, and a quick baking soda soak yields golden gluten-free, vegan pretzels. 

Where did Oktoberfest come from? The history of the festival goes back to 1810, when Bavarian Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese. The party was such a hit that they made the event an annual tradition. Over the years, it kept getting longer (no one wanted the party to stop!) and its start date moved to the second-last weekend of September, with celebrations running until the first Sunday of October.

Anchored in tradition but updated for health, these alive-inspired recipes for some of the greatest Oktoberfest foods A unique Oktoberfest menu—alive-style! will have you wanting to extend the holiday, too!


Vegan Bratwurst-Style Sausages with White Beans and Walnuts

Vegan Bratwurst-Style Sausages with White Beans and Walnuts

The trick to these plant-based sausages is rolling them in rice paper wrappers before steaming and grilling them. The rice paper creates a translucent coating similar to sausage casing, but without pork. These are best served with grainy German mustard (preferably stone-ground) and sauerkraut (look for unpasteurized versions or make your own), but they’re also great sliced into pieces and cooked into a tomato-based barbecue sauce with curry powder—a traditional currywurst!

Tofu Schnitzel with Noodles

Schnitzel usually means tenderized meat coated in egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fried. The German version is often pork, while the Austrian wiener schnitzel has to be veal (it’s a rule). But this version of schnitzel would have even Julie Andrews singing its praises, thanks to the tender tofu that skips the fryer. Schnitzel can be served simply with noodles coated in (plant-based) butter with lemon wedges, but lingonberry sauce (reminiscent of cranberry sauce), tomato sauce, or mushroom gravy are also Oktoberfest regulars.

Gluten-Free Pretzels

At Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich, there are always people walking around selling large pretzels, says Canadian expat Chris Gilles, who moved to the city in 2018. The large pieces of golden, twisted pretzel dough come topped with coarse salt for a savoury crunch with every bite. “They don’t come with any dipping sauce,” Gilles says, “but you could dip it in sauce if you had ordered something else”—say, the honey mustard or stone-ground mustard you might have with your bratwurst or sauerkraut balls. But don’t feel bad if you prefer to break from German tradition and dip them in caramel or tahini instead!

Dunkel Beer-Marinated Rotisserie-Style Chicken

This dark beer-marinated chicken uses the convection setting on your oven to create a crispy skinned bird. Convection cooking circulates air around the meat, crisping it like rotisserie without needing a spit or a lot of oil, similar to an air fryer (which you can also use!). If you don’t have a convection setting on your oven, you can simply bake the chicken for longer at the same temperatures as below, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 F (74 C).

Crispy Breaded Sauerkraut Balls with Tempeh, Chia, and Mushrooms

Traditionally made with bratwurst and fried, these plant-based balls are baked and made with tempeh and mushrooms for a savoury, satisfying chewy interior and a crispy exterior. You can also use your homemade plant-based bratwurst as a stuffing in place of the croutons, but it seems a shame to go to all that work shaping them just to pull them apart.

Kartoffelknödel Potato Dumplings Stuffed with Toasted Bread and Spinach

"Germans do potatoes in general very well,” says Canadian expat Chris Gilles, who now lives in Munich and has celebrated many an Oktoberfest there. “Knödel seem kind of rubbery. You don’t really think it’s potato when you first see it, but it’s tasty.” But he might be surprised to find that this alive-inspired version of Bavarian potato dumplings is made with a combination of potato and cauliflower, because as anyone who’s eaten cauliflower gnocchi knows, the low-carb vegetable is a great way to lighten up starch-heavy foods (and Biergarten menus).

Magnificent mustard 

Mustard is usually made from either whole or ground yellow, brown, or black mustard seeds, plus vinegar or water, salt, and other seasonings. The main differences come from the types of seeds used and how finely they’re ground. 

Most commercial mustards are made with yellow or brown mustard seeds, though blends of two or three kinds are common, as it allows for a balance of flavour and heat. Vinegar reduces the heat slightly, but keeps mustard strongly flavoured. Water maintains the heat, but flavours fade faster, especially with hot water. These are some of the kinds of mustards you’re most likely to find:

Yellow mustard

Most people will recognize this mustard as the classic bright yellow squeeze bottle that lives in many a fridge and is a barbecue staple. As the name implies, it’s made from mostly yellow mustard seeds, but since yellow mustard seeds are generally less hot than other mustard seeds, other colours are often added for a touch more nose-tickling spice.

Grainy mustard

Rather than just one type of mustard, this is a group of mustards in which the seeds are left whole or cracked but not blended to a smooth consistency. The taste is often more pungent. Grainy mustards include creole, whole grain, and stone ground (though most mustards aren’t actually ground with stones anymore). These mustards are great for potato salads, sandwiches, or any dish where you want your mustard to have some texture. 

Dijon mustard

Made with brown and black mustard seeds and white wine, Dijon mustard has a mild enough flavour to spread liberally on main dishes or add to just about anything without overpowering the main event, from salad dressing to grilled tempeh. It has a saltier, less acidic flavour than most yellow mustards.

Honey mustard

Easy to make at home, honey mustard is a one-to-one blend of honey (or another sweetener) and any kind of mustard (though it’s often yellow mustard). It’s great for marinades, dressings, and—our favourite—pretzels. 

Spicy brown a.k.a. deli mustard

Made from brown mustard seeds (or blended with black for extra spice), this type of mustard is often spread on sandwiches. It has more texture than Dijon, but less than grainy mustards, and it’s usually seasoned with warm spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger. 

Hot mustard

Hot peppers aren’t added to hot mustard as the name implies (though some infused mustards do use chilies). Instead, the spiciness of the seeds themselves—think spicy wasabi or horseradish—aren’t dialled down by vinegar or hot water. These include Chinese mustards, which are known for their natural mustard seed heat and are good when used as dipping sauces for rich meat dishes. 

German mustard

This is a blanket term for any mustard originating in Germany or made in a style that’s supposedly German (which unofficially means “good for eating with sausage”). Some Bavarian mustards are sweeter, some are spicier, and others fall somewhere in the middle. 

Infused mustard

More and more mustards these days are being infused with spices, herbs, beers, and other flavours. A beer-infused mustard would be a great pairing for any of these recipes, while a sweeter flavour might be best for the gluten-free pretzels. 



Choosing Sustainable Seafood

Choosing Sustainable Seafood

Are you wondering what it means to buy “sustainable” seafood? The type of seafood, where it’s from, and how it’s caught or harvested all play into what makes seafood sustainable. Simply put, it means that the harvest of a particular seafood is done in a way that allows for continued harvesting into the future. But it’s not simply a question of controlling overfishing. Impacts on the environment are also key. Wild fish have the reputation of being more sustainable, but that’s only if they’re fished through managed seafood programs and don’t have other impacts such as pollution or depletion of other species.   Seafood from aquaculture can also be sustainable, provided it is done in a way that avoids any detrimental effects to the larger ocean environment or other species. Stay informed, though, since species considered sustainable one day may be under threat the next. This might mean being willing to try something new or forgoing a favourite for something that is more sustainable. While that may sound like a sacrifice, it’s also an opportunity to discover a new favourite. If you live in an area where seafood is harvested, making a decision to support local fishers and harvesters may also influence your decision about which sustainable seafood choices to make. Navigating the specifics can be tricky, but your local fish counter is a great place to start your quest for sustainable fish. Your fishmonger is a valuable source of information about where the product is sourced. You can also look for certifications from organizations such as Ocean Wise and Marine Stewardship Council. Once you get it home, sustainable seafood’s variety and versatility presents us with an ocean of delicious opportunities in the kitchen. Try these recipes for simple, flavourful, and diverse preparations. Your choices can help Ocean Wise Seafood is a seafood certification program that helps consumers and businesses choose sustainable seafood options. The program works with scientists to assess the state of aquatic ecosystems and the species they support, making recommendations on sustainable choices. They employ a simple rating of either Ocean Wise Recommended or Not Recommended. Look for the Ocean Wise symbol when you buy seafood or check out their website ( ) to search for sustainable seafood options. They have information about various species, where and how they’re fished or harvested, and whether your choice is sustainable. It’s simple, easy, and reassuring. Face your fish-prep fears Many of us shy away from cooking seafood because we think we don’t know how, or because we may be worried about spoiling a piece of beautiful fish. Here are some quick tips to relieve your fish-prep fears. Start with the best In addition to asking at your fish counter about sustainability, don’t be afraid to ask how the seafood you’re buying has been transported and stored. Frozen fish, which is flash frozen, may be a better choice than a piece of “fresh” fish that has been around for a while. Store it properly Shellfish Store shellfish in the fridge, in a shallow pan without water, and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Frozen fish Remove frozen fish from its packaging, and thaw, loosely covered, in the fridge overnight. Drain any water that collects as it thaws. Cook fresh fish within two days. Celebrate simplicity Quality seafood is its own celebration and lends itself to simple preparations: a quick grill, a dash of lemon. Keep it simple and let the flavour of the fish shine through! Let your fish warm up It may sound strange, but letting your fish come up to room temperature over about 30 minutes will help you get an even temperature when it’s time to cook. Explore different cooking methods Poached, grilled, steamed, baked—seafood does it all. If you always grill fish, explore a gentle poach or raw preparation. Know your temperature Use higher heat for grilling, and make sure the pan or grill is hot when the fish hits it. Use low heat and a gentle simmer when poaching. Skin side down Cooking fish with the skin on helps keep it together. When grilling, cook the skin side first to protect the fish as it cooks. Know when it’s done Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and is barely opaque in the centre. Dive in Don’t let your fear stop you. Just get started!

Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

B12-rich mussels are a very good and economical source of protein and iron. Steamed mussels are a classic way to enjoy seafood—and so is this rich, aromatic broth of tomato, fennel, and saffron. Be sure to allow saffron to fully infuse to get the full flavour benefit, and finish off the dish with the fragrant fennel fronds. Sustainability status Farmed mussels are considered highly sustainable due to their low impacts on the environment. They are easy to harvest, require no fertilizer or fresh water, and don’t need to be fed externally, as they get all their nutritional requirements from their marine environment. Mussel prep Selection: Look for mussels with shiny, tightly closed shells that smell of the sea. If shells are slightly open, give them a tap. Live mussels will close immediately. Storage: Keep mussels in the fridge in a shallow pan laid on top of ice. Keep them out of water and cover with a damp cloth. Ideally, consume on the day you buy them, but within two days. They need to breathe, so never keep them in a sealed plastic bag. Cleanup: In addition to being sustainable, farmed mussels tend to require less cleaning than wild mussels. Most of the fibrous “beards” that mussels use to grip solid surfaces will have been removed before sale. But if a few remain, they’re easily dispatched: grasp the beard with your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel and give it a tug. Afterward, give mussels a quick rinse and scrub away any areas of mud or seaweed, which, with farmed mussels, will require minimal work.