Produce, protein and pie: A balanced thanksgiving meal

Produce, protein and pie: A balanced thanksgiving meal

Gluttons, rejoice! It’s time to set the table, carve the turkey and indulge in those delicious dishes we typically see only a few times a year. Thanksgiving marks the largest consumption of food by Americans in a single day. Best to make that food worth the time, trouble and calories! To balance your Thanksgiving table, try to include a few dishes from the following categories:

Starters. Choose lighter fare as the rest of the meal will consist of heavier options. A spinach salad with almonds, mandarin oranges and a drizzle of vinaigrette or a hearty butternut squash soup can whet your appetite before the feast.

Sides. For some people, traditional Thanksgiving sides are more integral to the meal than the bird. You can go the casserole route, with mashed sweet potatoes covered in toasted marshmallows or a good ol’ green bean casserole topped with a crunchy fried-onion crust. Or try your hand at a savory, made-from-scratch stuffing, a tangy cranberry sauce or even roasted corn on the cob.

Turkey. You can fry it, smoke it, grill it or roast it, but a turkey is the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast. In 2011 alone, 248 million turkeys were raised for the sole purpose of human consumption—that’s more than one turkey for every two Americans. And go ahead and eat up without fear of nodding off: the tryptophan associated with making you sleepy isn’t any higher in turkey than it is in other meats.

Dessert. While we strongly believe that no meal is complete without some treats from Mother Rucker’s Sweets, we also understand that pie usually takes the spotlight Thanksgiving Day. Pumpkin, pecan, apple and cherry, you really can’t go wrong with a rich filling and buttery crust. Offering guests non-pie options such as a fruit salad or an arrangement of Holiday Cookie Brittle will make them extra thankful for being a part of your holiday celebration.

Helpful tips:

  • Keep in mind the stove, oven and microwave capacity and plan accordingly. It’d be a shame to have to push your meal time back a few hours because you ran out of oven space for your sides.
  • Ask for help. If you’re having a large gathering, it’s okay to ask guests to bring a dish to share. Just make sure they know if you are tight on oven space so they can heat their dishes at home.
  • Select some recipes that can be prepared in advance. That way, you will have less to do on Thanksgiving Day and have more time to spend with your family and friends.
  • Plan for leftovers and have Tupperware available to send home with guests. It’s better to have a table of full bellies than empty ones, so be sure to provide more than enough food for the day.