One of my favorite meals of all time is the classic American Thanksgiving menu. Every year I look forward to it. I think I’m more excited about the leftovers, as I get to savor the meal days later. The flavor combinations, the colors and just having everyone together (if only for one meal) makes this holiday more treasured to me than Christmas.
No gifts are exchanged on Thanksgiving. It is not about presents, toys or the other materialistic things that bombard our holidays. It is about family, love and being thankful for what we have.
I do not always host the Thanksgiving feast, but I welcome the job when I do. I love cooking everything from scratch, and everyone notices the difference a fresh meal tastes. Thanksgiving does not have to be stressful. Here are my tips to an easy Thanksgiving meal:
Keep it fresh.
Always choose fresh ingredients. Everything you need to serve for the meal is in season, so there is no good excuse to NOT use fresh ingredients. Not only are they more nutritious, but they bring much more flavor to any dish.
Keep it simple.
Streamline your menu. Do not overload the table with so many starchy or sugary side dishes. Focus on a well-balanced meal that is naturally colorful. I always like to eat the rainbow to make sure that the meal is both appetizing and healthy. Most importantly, keep the meal savory and save the sugar for dessert.
Keep it real.
Leave out the processed stuff from your Thanksgiving meal. You don’t need it and your food really will taste even better without it. If you can’t omit it completely, use it minimally perhaps for more labor-intensive foods like bread and dessert. Even then, you can buy these items unprocessed.
If you are new to cooking, why not pick one dish to experiment with and try something new? Fuse together two different cultures and see what you get. Don’t be intimidated – it’s only food!
My mother is Persian, and my dad is an American. One non-traditional staple on our Thanksgiving table was basmati rice. Why not?
Whole Foods Market wants to make your Thanksgiving meal fresh and worry-free, too. They not only provide top-quality fresh ingredients, but they also have an amazing catering service. They helped me create this not-so-traditional Cranberry Orange Quinoa Salad. Click here for the full recipe.
Have you ever tried a raw cranberry salad? As cranberries are naturally tart, this salad has a terrific sweet and sour flavor that I adore. It’s lightly sweetened with honey and it is full of real ingredients: quinoa, kale, cranberries, oranges, nuts, olive oil, mint and honey.
It is a simple dish to put together that uses both fresh and real ingredients, plus it is a twist on the traditional cranberry relish.
Need more inspiration for your Thanksgiving meal? Join the conversation during the Kitchen PLAY Twitter Party with Whole Foods Market on November 12th at 7:00 PM EST. Let’s talk turkey, cranberries and all things Thanksgiving! Register for the Twitter Party and get ready to win some terrific prizes during the party.
What do you serve on your Thanksgiving table? Are you all traditional or do you like to mix things up?
Disclosure: As part of the Kitchen PLAY Community, I was paid a stipend to develop a Thanksgiving recipe for Whole Foods Market. All of the opinions I expressed here are my own. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it!