As a child, I always loved Thanksgiving. We went to my Aunts house where there were loads of cousins to play with and my Grandmother always did the bulk of the cooking. I remember it fondly as a day that wasn’t rushed. Grandma made chopped liver (it was the “real deal” but I now make this vegan version and it is super tasty), and the adults sat around in the living room telling stories and laughing away the afternoon while we ran around having a great time, stopping in to steal a nosh and hear some of the grown-up talk from time to time.
As a health coach I see what a mine field Thanksgiving can be for some to negotiate. Emotional triggers with family drama can lead to over indulging and then negative self talk and a vicious cycle that begins anew. Here is a blog I wrote about avoiding holiday fatigue. It has helped many, and I hope it will help you too!
It’s been many years since I have been able to spend a Thanksgiving at Aunt Helen’s but I try to create the same chilled vibe that was always present at her house. The key is to plan your menu, get organized, create a time-line, delegate (yes, ask family and friends for help), and be prepared for your guests to show up hungry. Many people try to “save up” for the big meal, and in doing so, arrive HANGRY. Stick to your timeline. Have some healthy appetizers available to snack on….so your guests can spend some quality time together relaxing. There is no rush.
This dip is a great choice for Thanksgiving. It can be made in advance, looks awesome on a platter, and it’s fun!
This artichoke dip is also a big hit any time I make it. It’s light enough to serve before the feast and not fill your guests up and you can make it the day before—-I use the crispy artichoke salad recipe and pulse it in the food processor. One of my favorites….so tasty!
I always serve several salads at Thanksgiving. There are those that want to save all their room for the main event (aka: stuffing and pie), but it’s possible to have some tasty veggies that will help with digestion and nutrition and still have room for the other stuff too. People can’t get their greens in if you don’t offer them! Opt for something simple, yet seasonal like this butternut squash salad. You can make all the components in advance and assemble at the last minute.
And….if you’ve been invited someplace, bring an Awesome Seasonal Salad. You will wow your hostess and the other guests will thank you. Delicata squash is simple to make since you don’t have to peel it! Throw in some pomegranate seeds and its beautiful!
Brussels sprouts are a traditional Thanksgiving veggie because they are in season right now. This is my favorite way to enjoy brussels sprouts, followed closely by this brussels sprouts slaw. It’s nice to have a few recipes that can be made the day before or are cooked on the stove top because oven space is at a premium on Thanksgiving. It is important to keep this in mind when planning your menu.
It is hard to plan a healthy menu for Thanksgiving when there are so many traditional dishes that are expected every year. Sometimes the best way to insert more health into the holiday is to revamp some old favorites and make them healthier. Mashed potatoes are no exception. Use this recipe as a guide and try adding in some other white veggies to your batch this year.
An assortment of root veggies adds nutrition to traditional mashed potatoes.
If you’re looking to add a bit of color to an otherwise drab assortment on the buffet, I highly recommend these roasted carrots with oranges. It’s both nutritious and delicious plus it’s pretty!
If you’re looking for something really decadent for the dessert table, checkout this chocolate pie with pecan crust. Seriously, dessert can be tasty and healthy too……and you don’t even have to tell them how nutritious it is!
If you’re looking for a more traditional Thanksgiving dessert, this apple galette is always a winner…….and so much less fussy than making a pie.
Whatever you decide to make, just know that it’s going to be great. Make a reasonable plan and stick to it. Have confidence that it is ENOUGH, that YOU ARE ENOUGH……you don’t need to make more and more and more….until you are too overwhelmed and exhausted to enjoy being with family and friends.
As an adult I still love everything about Thanksgiving (including the cooking) but I am careful remain true to my goal of creating a relaxed environment where I am able to be present to all of the blessings around me….including the gift of time with my loved ones. Wishing you a holiday filled with love and light, good food, and plenty of time to soak it all in.