I’ve often wondered about the story of Thanksgiving and what was served on the first Thanksgiving compared to what we serve these days and I got to thinking about the evolution of our traditions and dishes that we serve on this lovely holiday. This was quite timely because I recently was invited to an event in Manhattan that showcased this evolution and I was delighted to take part in it (and learn a bit about the greatest fruit of Thanksgiving- the beautiful cranberry).
This year, Ocean Spray® is celebrating their 85th Anniversary by exploring the evolving Thanksgiving table from inside their cranberry bog display in Rockefeller Center®! If you follow me on instagram, you saw the pictures of me in the middle of the cranberry bog (yes a TON of water up to my thighs) in Rock Center eating an amazing Thanksgiving lunch hosted by Ocean Spray. We explored the amazing (and beautiful) festive cranberry and its endless possibilities on the evolving Thanksgiving table. I had no idea Ocean Spray was such an incredible company; I had lunch with their cranberry growers and met many of their farmers, which was a lovely experience to learn first-hand how their cranberries are grown and harvested. The theme of the event was to showcase the evolution of Thanksgiving dishes and traditions- so we had everything from the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes with pie to quinoa salads and other modern dishes.
So, to get all of you in the Thanksgiving spirit, I’m going to share some of my tips and tricks that I’ve learned for how to navigate your Thanksgiving without chaos in your kitchen. I’ve combined tips I learned as a child here as well as what I’ve learned throughout the past 6 years making my own food for Thanksgiving and how I create amazing flavor without adding any of the ingredients that don’t work for my family. And I’ve also created a fabulous cranberry-themed recipe (aka–a fabulous kale salad with tahini dressing) for you below that I know you’re going to love!
Here are a few of my tasty Thanksgiving tips for you:
- Clean out your fridge from leftovers so you have room to store your new Thanksgiving food items in an orderly manner on each shelf. Organize your fridge (and your pantry) so that what you need is in the front!
- Plan your Thanksgiving menu in advance. You don’t want to wait until the last minute. You can easily stock up on whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and other non-perishable foods to stock in your pantry a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Then, the week of Thanksgiving, purchase all fresh ingredients such as veggies, fruits, fresh herbs and any organic animal products such as turkey.
- Make a list! Tape your food shopping list to your fridge, so you know exactly what’s in your fridge and your pantry.
- Tape your recipes to your kitchen cabinets so you can easily look at the recipe as you make it, without having to search for it among all of your ingredients sprawled out on your counter top.
- Add natural sweetness to your meals by tossing in Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries (like my salad below) to whole grain dishes, leafy green salads and roasted veggie side dishes.
- Roast a few heads of garlic in a roasting pan with olive oil and sea salt in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees F or until tender and serve as a tasty topping for gluten-free toasted Italian bread, added to your green beans or tossed into a leafy green salad.
- For sweet potatoes, peel and chop them 2 days before Thanksgiving and store them in a sealed glass container in cold water until ready to cook.
- Always have extra vegetable or organic chicken broth on hand for mashed potatoes!
- Add Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries to your stuffing for a touch of natural sweetness without having to add any refined sugar!
- Add a spoonful of coconut oil to mashed sweet potatoes for an extra dose of flavor without adding sugar (in place of honey or maple syrup).
- Add walnuts (rich in omega 3’s to fight inflammation) in place of other nuts for your salads, casseroles and green beans.
- If your stuffing is done before you’re ready to sit down and eat, store it in your oven at a low temperature or in your oven’s warming drawer.
- Did you add too much salt to your gravy or mashed potatoes? Add vegetable broth or organic chicken broth to dilute the salty taste.
- Add fresh orange juice and lemon juice (along with the zest) to your favorite cranberry sauce recipe. Add slivered almonds or chopped walnuts for more texture.
- Splash a bit of your favorite Ocean Spray® cranberry juice drink into your salad dressing or marinades for an extra sweet touch!
- Use REAL sea salt or Himalyan salt to add flavor to your food. Remove that table salt that isn’t doing anything for your food- it’s not adding flavor. Trust me, sea salt and Himalayan salt will add an amazing pop of flavor with just a little sprinkle.
- Not enough room in your fridge on the big day? No worries. Do what my family does and place a large cooler outside with beverages and or other entrees and side dishes to keep them cool until ready to serve.
And now, I’m sure you’re all wondering what food you’ll be making for Thanksgiving…am I right?
Here’s a tasty (and quick n’ easy) recipe you can whip up and serve for Thanksgiving brunch, lunch and dinner. Heck, you can even serve this post-Thanksgiving when you need something lighter to munch on. You’re gonna love it!
- 1 head curly kale, finely chopped and ends removed
- ½ cup Tahini (sesame seed paste)
- ¾ cup water
- 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (or avocado oil), plus more if needed
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 large red apple, finely diced
- 3 Tbsp. Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries
- Lemon zest, to taste
- Place the kale in a large bowl; set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk the tahini, water, lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. oil (add more if needed), mustard seeds, minced garlic, sea salt and pepper until smooth. Drizzle about half of the mixture (or as much as needed) over the kale mixture and use your hands to massage the kale for 1-2 minutes or until the kale leaves are soft, tender and dark green. Add the apple and cranberries; toss to combine. Add the lemon zest, to taste. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and serve immediately.
- Store leftover dressing in the fridge for up to 2 days.
What are your favorite tips for prepping for Thanksgiving?
This post was sponsored by Ocean Spray. All opinions are my own.