November 19, 2013

Tradition with a twist

Thanksgiving dinner: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green-bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry sauce and dinner rolls. Sound familiar? Though each family may have a few additional favorite dishes, there is a definite standard fare for the holiday meal. Why not try mixing it up a bit?

I am not advocating losing any family favorites. I love the classic Thanksgiving feast, but it can be a great time to try something new, too. A modified meal can be great for families with different dietary preferences, food intolerances or for adventurous eaters.


Depending on the crowd, changing up a classic dish can be a big hit. Brining your turkey or rubbing and stuffing it with citrus and garlic can change the flavor, but still keep the classic bird on the table. If you are having a small gathering but still want turkey, try just cooking a turkey breast. Try making some of the dishes more from scratch if you have been using convenience foods in them. Green-bean casserole with a homemade mushroom roux can be delicious and have less sodium and fat than using condensed cream of mushroom soup. Or try sweet potatoes with something besides marshmallows on top. Roasted chunks of sweet potatoes or baked sweet potatoes are easy and delicious. Mashed sweet potatoes can be topped with pecans for a big change in taste and texture. Add something new to stuffing, such as dried cranberries or chestnuts. Cranberry sauce is really easy to make from scratch and can be flavored with anything from caramelized onions to orange zest.


Adding something different to the Thanksgiving meal does not need to be overwhelming. You may decide on a new recipe based on any variety of factors, but I would generally recommend something lighter. Most of the dishes are very starchy, so adding a lighter vegetable side seems like a winning choice. Cruciferous vegetables are nutritious and in season, with considerably fewer calories than the starchier vegetables already on the menu. Consider trying roasted cauliflower or brussels sprout. For a make-ahead dish, kale salad with dried fruit and chopped nuts tossed with vinaigrette is tasty. If you are eating with little ones or some less adventurous eaters, a vegetable platter will likely be enjoyed and appreciated.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • ken_wibecan.jpg Another day in the life

    Each morning I rise from bed, slowly, as is my habit, and sit quietly on the bed contemplating the day that looms before me, writes columnist Ken Wibecan.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR small talk mug 081714 Corner store is no more

    Columnist Gordie Little offers a reminder of the little grocery stores of days gone by.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR skin deep mug 081714 High-end products worth the splurge

    Regardless of the price, writes columnist Felicia Krieg, she would buy the core group of her makeup products over and over again.

    August 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • paul_grasso.jpg Tax code needs overhaul

    Corporations may be criticized for exploiting loopholes, but it is the complex tax system that is at fault, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Ideas about soil health changing

    New techniques like no-til and cover crops can make soil healthier than conventional tillage, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Economy may have changed forever

    The Great Recession has reordered the workforce in a way that makes it unlikely it will ever be the same, according to columnist Colin Read.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg The dark side of fun funerals

    Something strange happened in American culture in the past decade or two: People started planning fun funerals, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR fit bits mug Developing power key to success

    While strength is important, the ability to generate power is required for many basic activities in life, writes columnist Ted Santaniello.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR you had to ask mug 081014 Time to reel in youth sports parents

    Do not scream at a child that he's a loser, at least not in a language he understands, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    August 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Treating corporations like people

    Problems arise in many areas when businesses take on the attributes of individuals as mandated by the court, according to columnist Colin Read.

    August 10, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice
Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk
Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time