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How to Redesign the Classic Thanksgiving Dinner

Spoon University logo Spoon University 11/17/2018 Anna Stalsberg

I have a confession to make: I think Thanksgiving dinner is just okay. It’s not that I’ve never had good Thanksgiving food, or that I had a scaring experience with my mashed potatoes. There are certainly still parts of my family’s Thanksgiving meal I always look forward to (French silk pie, you have my heart).

Luckily, for those of us who find ourselves torn between keeping with tradition and abandoning cranberry sauce once and for all, there is a solution: incorporate all the elements of classic thanksgiving- the turkey, stuffing, etc.- but revive them in new, creative ways. 

1. Turkey Chili

a close up of a bowl of food with broccoli: Erin Clarke | Well Plated on Instagram: “I hear there’s a certain 🏈🏈🏈game tomorrow! This Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili is the perfect recipe for your crowd. The longer it sits,…” © wellplated on Instagram Erin Clarke | Well Plated on Instagram: “I hear there’s a certain 🏈🏈🏈game tomorrow! This Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili is the perfect recipe for your crowd. The longer it sits,…”

What it replaces: The turkey.

Perfect for those of us who are daunted by the idea of baking an entire turkey, turkey chili is an easier alternative this is just as hearty. Depending on the recipe, turkey chili can also be filled with beans, peppers, and other vegetables that offer an added boost of protein and vitamins. 

2. Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

a hand holding a piece of pizza: Nagi & Dozer - RecipeTin Eats on Instagram: “💥 The bread that BROKE THE INTERNET! 💥 . Cheese Garlic CRACK BREAD. It’s like garlic bread….on CRACK 👊😋 . Just search “crack bread” on my…” © recipe_tin on Instagram Nagi & Dozer - RecipeTin Eats on Instagram: “💥 The bread that BROKE THE INTERNET! 💥 . Cheese Garlic CRACK BREAD. It’s like garlic bread….on CRACK 👊😋 . Just search “crack bread” on my…”

What it replaces: The stuffing.

Filled with cheese and garlic, pull apart bread is a fresh take on stuffing that is just as rich. Plus, the bread is sliced into bite-sized pieces, making it easy to share with family. 

3. Rosemary Parmesan Potatoes

a plate of food: Cooking Classy on Instagram: “These Roasted Potatoes with Parmesan Garlic and Herbs are one of my go-to sides because they’re easy yet seriously delicious! . They’re…” © cookingclassy on Instagram Cooking Classy on Instagram: “These Roasted Potatoes with Parmesan Garlic and Herbs are one of my go-to sides because they’re easy yet seriously delicious! . They’re…”

What it replaces: The mashed potatoes.

Baked with herbs and cheese, rosemary parmesan potatoes are arguably more elegant than traditional mashed potatoes. Since these potatoes aren’t covered in gravy, they are also a slightly healthier option for those looking to cut down on unnecessary fat.

4. Fried Green Beans

a plate of food: Christin on Instagram: “Fried Asparagus has a super crunchy coating covering crisp tender fresh asparagus stalks. They make a great spring appetizer served with…” © spicysouthernkitchen on Instagram Christin on Instagram: “Fried Asparagus has a super crunchy coating covering crisp tender fresh asparagus stalks. They make a great spring appetizer served with…”

What it replaces: The green bean casserole.

Just as decadent, these fried green beans add an unexpected crunch to Thanksgiving. If green beans aren’t your favorite, you can always swap them out with asparagus as well. 

5. Cranberry Walnut Salad

a bowl of salad on a plate: Cooking Classy on Instagram: “Pear Salad with Candied Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette - hello perfect fall salad! . It’s layered with tender spring greens, sweet juicy…” © cookingclassy on Instagram Cooking Classy on Instagram: “Pear Salad with Candied Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette - hello perfect fall salad! . It’s layered with tender spring greens, sweet juicy…”

What it replaces: The cranberry sauce.

If the idea of cranberry mush just doesn’t appeal to you, consider swapping cranberry sauce for a salad filled with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, spinach, and more. Plus, substituting cranberry sauce with a cranberry salad offers the same sweetness with candied walnuts and dried cranberries, but is a lower sugar option with a boost of nutrients from the spinach and other ingredients. 

6. Pumpkin Bars

a piece of cake sitting on top of a paper plate: Cooking Classy on Instagram: “Perfect Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s what fall is all about! . Perfectly spiced, tender and fluffy pumpkin cake, topped…” © cookingclassy on Instagram Cooking Classy on Instagram: “Perfect Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s what fall is all about! . Perfectly spiced, tender and fluffy pumpkin cake, topped…”

What it replaces: The pumpkin pie.

Last but not least, the dessert. What’s not to love about the classic taste of pumpkin combined with decadent cream cheese frosting? Pumpkin bars are always a crowd favorite, and most recipes make enough bars to go around for days.

Thanksgiving dinner is near and dear to many, and the foods associated with it have a lot of meaning. However, for those of us that don't equate cranberry sauce and quality family time, there is an answer: switch things up with new recipes, while still incorporating the same old flavors we all love. 

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