A Thanksgiving Week Menu You’ll Really Love

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Are you ready for the November meal that leaves you stuffed and comatose?

I am very ready. Shopped and prepped ready. But there’s a huge presumption that all parties can’t wait for the big bird, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce out of a can and yams with a marshmallow topping. But before we talk about why most of these aren’t particularly compelling dishes, I have one bomb to drop:

I hate turkey. 

This reveal comes as I see Thanksgiving images all over the Interwebs: families smiling as a matriarch carries an oversized browned bird to a table. They all look so happy to see what is clearly the Heisman Award winner of the Thanksgiving meal, but I smirk knowing that side dishes are my mainstay, (especially the rib roast lovingly and annually prepared by my aunt).

I’m hearing your comments now, “But you’ve never had my brined turkey!” And I’m sure your mother, aunt, grandmother, dad does a great job on your turkey too. I have incredible cooks in my family, including a cousin who is a trained chef that makes magic out of anything. But in my experience, Thanksgiving turkey is rarely good. It’s generally dry, bland and really, really boring. It’s a challenging meat to work with. You douse it in gravy to make it palatable. And consider how often you see turkey on a restaurant menu. Yeah, I thought so.

And the other dishes, the plain mashed potatoes are T.I.R.E.D. Caps intended. Dry stuffing could use a rework. My tastebuds have changed significantly, so the overly sticky sweetness of the yams is too much. And that cranberry sauce out of a can? It’s just sad. When I hear that “thwack” sound releasing the lonely cranberry jelly mold from a can, I run.

So this week, I have options (some new, some old) for you for during and after the annual Thanksgiving meal. Consider this a Thanksgiving meal/week makeover, and delicious options for the week, and that includes carnivores, vegans, raw foodists, vegetarians and paleo peeps.

Roast Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie

It's gluten-free y'all.

It’s gluten-free y’all.

One of my problems with turkey? The lack of fat. And fat is flavor. I find that most people eat turkey because they feel it’s healthier. But when comparing the fat content of both, the difference is negligible. A chicken also takes far less time to defrost. And leave that skin on you health freaks. It’s so fantastic, satisfying, and when done properly, better than sex. Well, not really. That depends on your partner. Once you’ve cooked either bird, make this gluten-free pot pie, which works with turkey or chicken. Start with this: Roast Chick For Your Chick Recipe, then make the pot pie: Gluten-Free Pot Pie Recipe

Garlic-Infused Greens Over Creamy Polenta

Garlicky Greens Polenta

I come from a family that eats greens every single holiday. Every family member uses bacon, a hamhock, or both. And that smoky flavor? Dashes of Tabasco? I’ll eat it up with no regrets. But I also like some crunch in my veggies rather than lifeless greens from a pot that’s been sitting on the stove all day. And with creamy, savory polenta topped with sweet corn? I love that little touch for this recipe that takes only 20 minutes: Garlic-Inflused Greens Over Creamy Polenta Recipe.

Cranberry Sauce That You Actually Love

cranberry sauce

This experiment resulted in one of my favorite and most fantastic side dishes. There are hints of orange zest, and I make it days before so that the flavors settle in even more: A Luscious Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Better Than Egg Salad (Vegan)

Craig Salad

If there’s a vegan present, they tend to feel a little isolated during Thanksgiving. While the rest of the crew eats dinner or leftovers, you might find yourself in one of two categories: 

  1. You don’t eat animal products.
  2. You’re hosting and need something for for someone who doesn’t eat animal products.

You can either ask them to bring their own meals/or you just bring your own meal. Or, you make this incredibly easy dish that doubles as breakfast/lunch. My husband created this amazing eggless salad years ago, and I’ve even served this to tofu-averse people (my mother) who thought it was heavenly and clever. Since she’s trying to watch her cholesterol, I’d say it is a winner: My Husband’s Better Than Egg Salad Recipe.

Dessert Grilled Cheese

A gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich.

A gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich.

This is not healthy. I repeat, this is not a healthy dish. But sometimes, you just have to go there. I always recommend indulging this time of year. I find feasting good for the soul. Just don’t turn into that little piggie that is ready to heave because you can’t control yourself. Alright, fine. Be that piggy.

Just imagine a slightly savory and sweet grilled mascarpone cheese sandwich with raspberry and chocolate shavings that is messy, gooey and rich: Mascarpone, Raspberry, Chocolate Grilled Cheese Recipe.

A No Bake Raspberry Cake

I love raw food desserts. When you can’t even tell that they’re uncooked is when you’ve succeeded, because many raw desserts are nut heavy/dense (but delicious), or they actually taste hippie-tastic. I add two of my favorite ingredients when making raw desserts: sunflower lecithin. The second is patience: I’m not giving away everything at once, so make sure you check back for the recipe coming come Wednesday afternoon.

Leftover Morrocan Turkey or Chicken Stew

One of the easiest recipes you can do: throw carrots, onion, garlic, north African herbs and leftover turkey into a pot and have something that feels like an entirely new dish that can be made in no time flat: Morrocan Turkey Stew Recipe.

Smoothies For EVERYONE!

A Vanilla, Almond Smoothie. Completely healthy, filling and easy. By Mona Holmes @cookthisgetlaid

A Vanilla, Almond Smoothie. Completely healthy, filling and easy. By Mona Holmes @cookthisgetlaid

Calling all Paleos, vegans, vegetarians, raw food people and omnivores!  Here is your dessert/breakfast or very fast snack. Those of you scrunching your foreheads for lack of recognition of the word Paleo, now hear this: the Paleo diet is all about eliminating foods not available during the Paleolithic era. That includes dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils, and refined sugar. But somehow, butter is okay. I’ve never quite understood that, but don’t care because butter is my everything. Wait, we’re talking about smoothies….

Whatever you choose, everyone adores this smoothie. If you make it this week, it staves off hunger, while tasting like ice cream. There isn’t a drop of refined foods or sugars in this, so go for it: Vanilla Almond Smoothie Recipe.

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About Mona

I'm a food writer and home cook that loves to talk about healthy food and romance.
This entry was posted in Breakfast, Cocktails, CTGL Tip, Dessert, Dinner, Gluten-free, Lunch and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Thanksgiving Week Menu You’ll Really Love

  1. Cathy Farrar says:

    Thanks, Mona!