Thanksgiving is a holiday rife with longstanding traditions. Many of these traditions revolve around the food, naturally. A traditional Thanksgiving menu consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce. Other supporting players might be a yam and marshmallow dish, green beans, a wild rice casserole, or perhaps a rice pudding. To finish things off, you will likely see pies: pecan and pumpkin being the frontrunners; mincemeat and apple varieties bringing up the rear.
While most people don’t want to mess with tradition and change things up, I definitely feel like this meal is so heavy and overly filling. There are always several dishes I make out of habit and tradition that don’t seem to be as popular to many in my particular group. I find myself wondering why we slave over and then consume all of this heavy food that gives us a sluggish food hangover, in particular, if we don’t necessarily enjoy it.
I long for a lightened-up Thanksgiving menu, which still has some traditional elements. I also long to alleviate the stress and the countless hours of slaving away in the kitchen. Here are a few ways I plan to lighten up my menu this year, while keeping the important traditions intact.
Lighten up on the front end. A crudite platter is always a great idea, in particular in advance of the large meal served at the Thanksgiving table. Create a unique one with interesting seasonal veggies – definitely pass on those weird preformed baby carrots!
Mix in a salad. Perhaps it will be a pretty winter salad of Boston lettuce with orange slices, nuts, and pomegranate seeds, or maybe a shaved Brussel sprout salad with dried cranberries. Either one will be a winner, and I plan to make a double recipe to encourage people to make wise choices (affording them the opportunity to save room for pie!)
One potato, two potato? I think mashed potatoes are untouchable and should never be deleted from an American Thanksgiving menu. But do we need both mashed and sweet potatoes? No, I say. No. I’m dumping the sweet potatoes this year. Alleluia! Now I can focus on perfecting my mashed potato recipe with no sweet distractions! Cheat on one dish and one dish only. I choose cranberry sauce as my non-homemade hack. Being a dish that most people only eat once a year, I don’t think many are true connoisseurs of cranberry sauce. Therefore, who will really know that I picked up a pint at the grocery and put it into that pretty dish? No one will.
images via bhg, pinterest, savorysweetlife