Thanksgiving dinner for 20

Congratulations, it’s the day before Thanksgiving, a beautiful time when there’s too much food and everyone at the table looks at something different and thinks, “Oh, I’m getting some of that. One of my cousins might lose a finger if they take the last of it.”

It could be turkey. It could be pecan pie. It could be the weird ribbed cylinder of cranberry sauce. (If it is, sorry about your weird mouth.) The point is that everyone has strong feelings about Thanksgiving food, even if those feelings are wrong — like mine.

So, in order to sort out any confusion, I am here to provide very scientific, objective, official rankings of Thanksgiving foods.

Yes, I did these rankings last year. Yes, they are probably different. I say this because — as is tradition — I have not even looked at previous rankings. As a result, there may even be some foods missing.

Anyway, you can stop scrolling through the intro now, here’s the list:

1. Stuffing – Stuffing is king at Thanksgiving. It’s the glutenous foundation upon which the holiday is built. It’s a savory wonder that incorporates all the good flavors in a malleable mass that can be anything from crumbly to moist. It can have sausage. It can have oysters. It can be anything you want it to be.

That may be stuffing’s greatest strength. It’s often entrenched in tradition and personal touches. It’s not just any stuffing. It’s the stuffing that’s served at your table. That’s what makes it special.

There’s a common misconception that the tryptophan in turkey makes you sleepy. No, it’s the fact that people eat about three loaves worth of bread in the form of stuffing. At least I do. If it were up to me, the stuffing would arrive to the table in an oil drum to be served with a garden trowel.

2. Gravy – OK, fine, gravy isn’t strictly speaking what most people would classify as “food.” It’s basically on the same rung as butter in terms of “support team” on the dinner table.

But you know what? I’m doing it anyway. It’s got its own bowl (or genie lamp-shaped meat-syrup dispenser). Plus, I’m going to characterize “food” as things I can reasonably foresee myself consuming by itself for sustenance.

I’m not going to lie here and pretend that I haven’t thought of cutting out the middle man and sipping straight from the gravy boat with a giant crazy straw that extends across the table, over a napkin dispenser and through two separate political arguments.

3. Turkey – I’m tired of hearing people skewering turkey’s good name by saying it’s dry or boring. It’s not my fault if the person in charge of your turkey doesn’t know how to cook it well. You wouldn’t knock mashed potatoes if the person hosting cooked them by cramming into a toaster and then banging it against the counter.

A properly cooked turkey is fantastic. It’s the protein that ties the whole meal together. It’s also a key post-Thanksgiving fridge staple.

The O’Malley family is a proud flag-bearer for the “two-turkey” system. You get one turkey for Thanksgiving day. That’s your flashy game day turkey. Then you’ve got your secret turkey specifically for leftovers. Turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, that thing where you just pile stuffing, meat and random sides into a bowl and microwave it? That’s the good stuff. I want to be powered by turkey until December.

4. Rolls – Thank goodness for rolls. If you’re like me, you’re trying to avoid eating much early in the day because you know you’re about to give the dinner table the Pac-Man treatment later on.

Then you’re sitting at the table, waiting for food to come out. And there, on the vanguard, the rolls come to pull you out of the hunger trenches to savory victory.

I also like to pile every food on my plate onto dinner rolls and make little Thanksgiving sandwiches right there. I don’t even wait for leftovers.

5. Whipped Cream – Again, you may be saying. “Hey, whipped cream isn’t a food.” Well, it’s good that I’m here to enlighten you.

I used to think super hard about which pie was my favorite dessert, often factoring in how well whipped cream went with said pie. Then it dawned upon me. Just like butter is Andy Dwyer’s favorite food, whipped cream is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert.

Half the time, I’m up grabbing pie just to serve as a vessel for whipped cream. I don’t just top it with whipped cream. I coat every exposed surface of the pie with whipped wonder. I cover that thing like a cake. If I’m at your Thanksgiving dinner, you won’t survive if you don’t have multiple cans on hand.

6. Chocolate Creme Pie – Chocolate creme pie is great because it’s a terrific choice for the Thanksgiving food marathon. It’s more pudding than pie, which means it’s not going to serve as a knockout punch for your stomach. It’s also a perfect vessel for too much whipped cream.

7. Pumpkin Pie – Every year, I feel like I get tired of pumpkin spice things. Then I have a slice of pumpkin pie and realize that, yeah, pumpkin is awesome.

8. Macaroni & Cheese – The is probably too high or too low for most people. That’s because a lot of the mac & cheese I encounter is baked with that layer of breadcrumbs on top. That’s always perplexed me. Why do people intentionally dry out their mac & cheese?

I’m a hardcore stovetop supporter. If you must bake it, at least do it with a pure layer of cheese so you get that nice stringy pull when you tuck into it.

9. Pecan Pie – When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate pecan pie because I wasn’t nuts about nuts. Then I realized that pecan pie is basically just sugar. It’s great.

10. Mashed Potatoes – This is a real glue of the Thanksgiving dinner. Often times, this is quite literal. I’m not going to put all the effort into hunting down every pea on my plate like some sort of vegetable garbage collector.

No, I’m just going to procure the services of my handy fluffy starch blob to do all the vegetable hunting for me. It also serves as a handy platform for a gravy volcano.

11. Cornbread – Why is jalapeno cornbread a thing? Do people like it?

12. Apple Pie – This is a little low on my list because I think pie isn’t the best format for apples. Too often, there’s that funky empty space under the top crust. Apple crisp is superior.

13. Sweet Potato Casserole with the Marshmallows – Why do people insist on throwing away perfectly good marshmallows by putting them on top of sweet potatoes and yams. Every year, I get tricked by the allure of toast marshmallows. Every year, I’m betrayed.

14. Peas – Peas are great because they can easily give you the excuse of saying “See? I have a vegetable on there,” when you tuck into your plate. Now, is that vegetable just five little dots that will be consumed by your cloud of mashed potatoes? Am I being detained? I don’t need to answer this question.

15. Green Bean Casserole – There are about 100 things better than green beans to put in a casserole.

16. Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts can be great. But in the context of Thanksgiving dinner, there’s often not enough time to get them properly roasted and cooked.

17. Squash – Squash is probably better than I think it is, especially when it’s a nice roasted butternut squash with butter. My family has been trying to get me to respect squash for years. This might be the year I turn it around.

18. Scalloped Potatoes – This is all wasted potential. Cheese and potatoes? How can it go wrong?

Somehow, scalloped potatoes magical go from “burn your mouth” hot to weirdly cold in the course of about nine seconds.

19. Carrots – The inclusion of carrots is to represent the overall “root vegetable” dish category that tends to get included with Thanksgiving dinners. Because of all the traditions that are represented by the holiday, one of the timeless classics is the age-old mantra of saying “Oh, it’s going to be freezing for the next five months, guess we should try to do something with all these root vegetables.”

Roasted carrots and carrot puree soup are good.

20. Cranberry sauce – When it comes to personal growth as a person, I think the place where I’ve come furthest is the acknowledgment that cranberry sauce can be kind of good at times. Sure, it’s made from an overly tart bog fruit of nightmares. But it really does play a role in the classic Thanksgiving palate to provide some moisture and some acidity to break up all the starches.

But only in small doses.

21. Salad – OK, who the heck brought this green crap and didn’t cook it in butter for at least 20 minutes?

Salad is on the table to provide a nice, green backdrop so everything on there isn’t the same, delicious beige color.

“I ate it so you don’t have to” is a regular food column looking at off-beat eats, both good and bad. It runs every other Thursday-ish at noon-ish.

You can send any praise/food suggestions to [email protected] Please send all criticisms and complains about what is and isn’t a Thanksgiving food to [email protected]” You can check out the rest of the series here.


An American Feast – Foods that Make Up an American Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s one of the biggest celebrations in the American calendar – and food plays a major role. So what is Thanksgiving all about? It’s a US holiday that takes place on the fourth Thursday in November. Back in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national day of thanksgiving, celebrating the first harvest of the first Pilgrims and Puritans to lands in America in 1621 – and it’s been a holiday ever since.

If you still want more, you can download our English vocabulary ebook – Practice as much as you can!

Thanksgiving dinner is really the centrepiece of this annual festival – a large meal, with family and friends gathered round the table to celebrate together. If you’re a fan of American TV shows like The Simpsons, you’ll undoubtedly have seen what Thanksgiving dinner looks like – and there are usually just as many family arguments as there are smiles around the table and plenty of American football on TV too!

Want to host your own Thanksgiving dinner this year? Then come November these are the essential, and delicious, ingredients you’ll need.

Just as it’s a traditional meat used for Christmas dinner, turkey is favoured because it’s big – and that means it can feed a whole family. Turkeys are usually stuffed with chestnuts and/or sausage meat and grains and baked in the oven before being carved at the table for everyone to enjoy.

You can’t serve up your Thanksgiving turkey without this sauce of the season. The first pilgrims learnt all about cranberries from the Native American Indians, who picked these berries at this time of year. Today, some people serve their cranberry sauce straight out of the can or jar, but if you have the time you might want to try and make your own. All you need to do is boil some sugar and water, add some cranberries, cook until they pop, mash them and then let the sauce cool in the fridge.


Closely tied to harvest festivals that date back centuries, Thanksgiving makes use of all the vegetables that are traditionally harvested at this time of year. That means lots of root vegetables. These are vegetables that grow in the ground, under soil, rather than above ground or on trees or plants. So that means potatoes of all kinds, parsnips, carrots, squash, yams, and the most popular Thanksgiving veg of all – pumpkins.

Marshmallow sweet potatoes

Think sweet potatoes aren’t sweet enough? Neither does America. Believe it or not, this is a favourite Thanksgiving dish that’s baked all across the country for this feast. While fluffy white marshmallows definitely weren’t served up at the first thanksgiving dinner back in 1621, they’re often included today. All you need to do is roast some sweet potatoes, then mash them, add some butter and cinnamon, top with marshmallows, then stick them back in the oven until the marshmallows are browned on top.

Looking for more sweet treats? As well as serving up pumpkin as a vegetable, Americans like to sweeten their mashed pumpkin to use as a delicious filling for this traditional Thanksgiving pie.

Pecan pie

Another popular kind of pie baked for Thanksgiving uses another ingredient that’s harvested at this time of year. Pecan nuts are used in this pie that is sweetened with maple syrup, but that’s not the only place pecan nuts feature at the dinner table. Pecans are also crushed up and used as part of the stuffing ingredients for the Thanksgiving turkey and are mixed through with roast vegetables.

Don’t stuff yourself silly this year. Here’s how to avoid a Thanksgiving food hangover

Thanksgiving is calling you…

Getty Images This story is part of Holiday Survival Guide 2019, featuring tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

We’ve all been there — you just ate the largest Thanksgiving meal of your life, and now you’re in a food coma, unable to move from the couch. This situation, called postprandial somnolence if you want to impress the in-laws, is extremely common and completely avoidable.

It’s possible to have a great Thanksgiving with all the foods you love (including dessert) and not feel like a truck ran you over afterward. You simply have to pinpoint what’s causing your drowsiness and steer clear of the offenders — it’s not as hard as it sounds, honestly.

Besides, you’ll want to rest up before all the big Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales the day after the big feast. Wouldn’t want that food coma getting in the way of making some prime shopping choices. Without further ado, let’s get into five reasons why you can’t stay awake after Thanksgiving dinner and what to do about it.

1. It’s not the turkey that’ll get you, it’s the carbs

You might have heard of tryptophan, an amino acid that supposedly makes us sleepy. It’s found in turkey and has long been blamed for the post-Thanksgiving food coma, but this link is more complicated than it seems.

It turns out that you can’t really eat enough turkey to experience drowsiness from tryptophan, but its effect is multiplied when your insulin is higher. This means that foods with a high glycemic index — like potatoes, stuffing, and sugary desserts — are really the culprit. If you just eat turkey by itself, you shouldn’t run into any issues.

To combat this effect, prioritize eating turkey, vegetables and carbs with a low glycemic index, like whole-grain bread instead of white, sweet potatoes instead of russet, and a brown rice dish instead of bread stuffing. Plus, aged cheeses like Swiss and cheddar contain tyramine, a stimulant, so reach over the pigs in a blanket and score yourself a nice slice of manchego.

Look, we’re not saying to forgo your usual pile of mash entirely, but remember that you can always pace yourself now and enjoy the leftovers later.

Try to slow your drinking pace down to a crawl.

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2. Go easy on the alcohol. Really

The holiday season is often a boozy time. When Aunt Margaret starts talking politics, who can blame you for knocking back an extra glass of wine? But, alcohol has a strong sedative effect. If you do make more than one or two trips to the liquor cabinet, it’ll make you even drowsier after dinner.

The stress of the holidays can also make it hard to fall asleep at night, but try not to use alcohol as a sleep aid. While it may help you drift off initially, you’ll suffer poor sleep quality throughout the night.

If you plan on enjoying a drink or two with your holiday meal, try to slip slowly and alternate servings of alcohol with at least one tall glass of water in between. It’ll slow your pace down, and water is one of the best energy drinks there is. Plus, the extra hydration will help with your headache the next day if you do happen to overindulge.

All of those delicious desserts are sometimes too hard to resist.


3. Eating slower and stick to a mental plan

Maybe you tried to avoid the pecan pie and stuffing, but it still happened. You overate, and now you can’t keep your eyes open.

There’s a widely perpetuated myth that blood is diverted from your brain to your gut after overeating, but this actually isn’t true. Instead, our gut hormones are much smarter than we are, and secrete hormones like melatonin and orexin to intentionally make us sleepy after we eat a big meal. Our gut also plays a role in activating our vagus nerve, putting us in a state of “rest and digest” as opposed to the “flight or fight” mode. Your body does this to protect you — it wants to calmly digest food instead of having it sit in your gut as you expend energy in an adrenaline-fueled state.

The key to fixing this is simply to not overeat. I know, easier said than done, but there are strategies to help. Try drinking two large glasses of water right before the meal, eating slowly or putting your fork down in between bites. You can also first fill up on vegetable-based dishes, and get small portions on your first pass through the buffet so that you can taste everything without stuffing yourself.

Knowing how much food to put on your plate, and not going back for thirds — or seconds — will also help fend off that icky food hangover. Here are few more strategies for eating healthy during the holidays.

Traveling during the holidays is stressful and exhausting.

Frederic J. Brown /AFP/Getty Images

4. Combat the stress of traveling and extended family time

Last year, over 50 million Americans traveled for Thanksgiving. Celebrating holidays away from home is stressful — there’s bad weather, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed and not having all of the creature comforts from home.

Even if you do use these seven Google Maps tools helps get from Point A to Point B faster and with less road rage, being around family members, especially ones that may be tied to unpleasant childhood memories, is exhausting even for the best of us. All of this stress piles up, and once you’ve had a few drinks and one plate of food too many, all of a sudden you’ve entered an inescapable food coma.

One tool that you can always pull out of your back pocket when faced with travel and family stress is the power of saying no. No, Uncle Steve, I’m not driving four hours from the nearest airport to your secluded cabin for Thanksgiving dinner. No, I can’t go to three parties in one night. No, I’d rather not stay with my older cousins who tormented me — I’ll book an AirBnB.

Other tried and true tactics for managing stress and anxiety are spending time in nature, meditation, exercise and getting enough sleep. If you load up on all of those calming vibes before the big meal, you can manage your stress well enough so that it doesn’t take a huge toll come Thanksgiving afternoon.

A leisurely walk after a big meal helps with digestion.

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5. Move your body after the meal

Grandma’s in a wheelchair, the football game is on and it’s snowing outside. In the holiday season, there’re a million excuses to sit on our butts and neglect all physical activity. But, all that sitting around can actually make you feel even more tired.

Instead, after you’re done eating, try to avoid melting into the couch. Take your niece outside for a game of catch, coerce your parents into taking a brisk walk after dinner, or even offer to do the dishes — anything to get up and get moving.

Even some very light exercise will boost your energy, and a post-meal walk will aid in digestion and even out the blood sugar spikes and dips you may otherwise experience.

Whatever you do, enjoy your Thanksgiving. Good luck!

Originally posted earlier this month.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

Sprouts Farmers Market Announces 10% off Holiday Promotion and Holiday Offerings

November 04, 2019 13:45 ET | Source: Sprouts Farmers Market photo-release

Sprouts Thanksgiving Holiday Meal

Courtesy of Sprouts Farmers Market

PHOENIX, Nov. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sprouts Farmers Market is a one-stop-shop for families across the country looking to eat healthier and save more on groceries this holiday season. Starting today, shoppers with a Sprouts account who reserve centerpiece meats, holiday meals or catering trays by November 22 in-store or online at sprouts.com/holiday will receive 10% off their entire purchase at pickup. The promotion excludes Instacart orders and purchases of beer, wine, postage and gift cards. Limit one purchase upon pickup of reserved items. Shoppers can download the Sprouts app to browse their local ad and save more in store with more than $100 in digital coupons each month.

Centerpiece Meats
Sprouts’ quality, ready-to-cook centerpiece meats are always fresh, never frozen. Specials include:

  • Natural Turkey or No Antibiotics Ever Turkey (No added solutions, brine, varieties vary by market)
  • Organic Air-chilled or Organic Free-range Turkey​ (Fed vegetarian, organic diet, varieties vary by market)
  • Grass-fed Rib Roasts
  • Presidential Cut Rib Roast
  • Spiral-sliced Ham

Prepared Meals and Catering Trays
For the first time, Sprouts will offer a fully vegan holiday prepared meal, which includes a 40 oz. Gardein Roast, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and a Market Corner Take & Bake Sourdough Loaf. Other prepared meals include traditional trimmings and delicious seasonal sides, starting at $29.99 with main courses such as Roasted Boneless Turkey Breast for two, or party-sized portions that feed six to eight of USDA Choice Boneless Rib Roast, a Natural Whole Turkey and Spiral-sliced Ham, complete with seasonal sides and dinner rolls. Also available are artfully arranged and ready-to-serve caterings trays starting at just $15.99.

Ordering Availability

  • Pre-orders can be made online and at the Deli or Meat counters now through Friday, November 22. December pre-orders resume December 2 through December 20.
  • Pre-orders of catering trays are available online and at the Deli counter with 48 hours’ notice.
  • Orders may be picked up until Thanksgiving Day at noon.

Delivery and Pickup
Beginning November 13, customers in select zip codes can order delivery of centerpiece meats, prepared meals, and thousands of holiday ingredients at sprouts.com/order. Thanksgiving Day delivery is available while supplies last.

Sprouts Brand Products
Home chefs seeking healthier ingredients will enjoy hundreds of organic, natural, gluten-free, vegan and plant-based Sprouts Brand products to complete their holiday recipes. New seasonal items include Organic Herb Seasoned Stuffing, Drizzled Peppermint Kettle Corn, Drizzled Caramel Coconut Kettle Corn, Organic Hot Cocoa Mixes, and Gluten-free Pie Crust. Festive florals, gifts for all ages, gingerbread houses and cookie decorating kits are also available in-store to add extra cheer to seasonal gatherings.

Sprouts’ Annual Food Bank Donations
From November 1 through December 31, shoppers can purchase pre-packed “Grab ‘N Give” bags filled with pantry staples or personal care items at a 10 percent or higher discount that Sprouts will donate on their behalf to a local food bank. Donation bags are approximately $10 and include canned food, nonperishable groceries and body care products. Last year, Sprouts shoppers donated more than 480,000 bags filled with groceries and personal care items.

About Sprouts Farmers Market
Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc., one the fastest-growing retailers in the country, has made healthy living accessible to shoppers for nearly two decades by offering affordable, fresh, natural and organic products. True to its farmers market heritage, Sprouts is known for pioneering its unique grocery model by offering a welcoming store layout featuring fresh produce at the center of the store, an expansive bulk foods section, and a vitamin department focused on overall wellness. Sprouts also offers a unique assortment of healthier products with special attributes, such as plant-based, gluten-free, keto-friendly, and grass-fed, to meet the growing and diverse needs of today’s consumer. Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., Sprouts employs more than 30,000 team members and operates approximately 340 stores in 22 states from coast to coast. Visit about.sprouts.com for more information.

Contact: [email protected], 602-682-1536

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/3e1976bc-7264-4935-9733-026ff126385b

Do I like to cook? Yes, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Am I a vegetarian? Yes, but my family isn’t.

Do I think that this fully prepared meal from Sprouts Farmers Market is wonderful? Yes!

Sprouts has a variety of holiday meals available. At my local store in Mission Viejo, California, I was able to choose between Natural Turkey, Spiral Sliced Ham, Boneless Turkey Breast and USDA Choice Boneless Rib Roast. If you’re having a large crowd, you may want to mix it up with a few different meats. Or you may want to order one meal for Thanksgiving and a different one for Christmas.

You’ll need to place your order 48 hours in advance to give them enough time to prepare your food. When I arrived to pick mine up, it was boxed and ready to go. There are easy to follow re-heating instructions inside the box and you can get help out to your car, if you need it.

Our holiday meal included:

  • Natural, Fully Cooked Whole Turkey
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Cornbread Stuffing
  • Broccoli Au Gratin
  • Home-style Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Dinner Rolls (I chose Hawaiian, they also have white and wheat.)
  • Cherry Pie (Pumpkin and apple are also available)

They say the meal serves 6-8 people, but like most Thanksgiving dinners, we had plenty of leftovers.

The turkey is fully cooked, but needs to be browned and heated through prior to serving. Mine took a little under 2 hours in the oven. My meat eating guests say it was moist and full of flavor.

The side dishes can be heated in the microwave in the trays they come in. They only take a few minutes each and then you can transfer them to serving dishes.

This was the easiest holiday dinner I have ever prepared! Instead of writing out menus and shopping lists in advance and then spending all day in the kitchen prepping, cooking and trying to get everything done at the same time, I was able to place my order, pick it up and get it on the table quickly.

My family and friends loved the Natural Turkey Meal and I loved how easy it was. This is a great option for people who don’t have the time, kitchen space or cooking skills for a big meal and it cuts down on stress, so you can enjoy the day!

Thank you, Sprouts Farmers Market!

Sprouts Natural Turkey Meal {Review}

Each year when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, my family and I get a bit nostalgic. We start talking about the family and friends we’ve spent time with, the special little somethings our parents did for us and the ones we’ve done for our own children. Not too far down memory lane we venture off into stories about food. It’s a critical element of our celebration so whatever we choose to prepare, we do so with a lot of care and tons of love.

There are obviously some favorites around the table like seafood dressing, sweet potato soufflé, and my husband’s smoked ham. We’ve been known to start our shopping lists early and begin doing the prep work for our meals days in advance. It’s exhausting but well worth the effort when the chatter of family and friends is silenced at the dinner table by mouthfuls of well-seasoned, fresh entrees, sides and dessert.

Because of the effort it takes to make this happen, I’m typically open to time and money saving tips when it comes to buying groceries and meal preparation and thought it would be a good experience to participate in an opportunity offered by Sprouts Farmers Market to review one of their fully prepared meals. The store is fairly new to the Atlanta market and is growing in its presence here. They promote making healthier eating and life choices with a good selection of fresh, natural and organic foods and products in store and healthy living resources on their website.

There were four meal options available at the store where I chose to shop. They were Natural Turkey (the one I chose), Spiral Sliced Ham, USDA Choice Boneless Rib Roast and Boneless Turkey Breast. The meal came conveniently packaged in one box. Inside my box was a Fully Cooked Whole Turkey, individual trays of Mashed Potatoes, Cornbread Stuffing and Broccoli Au Gratin, containers of Home-style Gravy and Cranberry Sauce and a package of Hawaiian Dinner Rolls. It all sounded like the making of a great meal.

At home, we removed the contents of the box and found that there were no prep instructions for the turkey. I remembered seeing them on the Sprouts website so that was my save for making sure I prepared the bird properly. Instructions for the trays and containers were found on the bottom and sides respectively.

After preparing the meal which took about two and a half hours, I sat down with my family to enjoy it. Imagine an entire turkey dinner in such a short amount of time. The turkey was reheated in an oven bag surrounded by a lightly seasoned broth which was fine on its own but it could be kicked up a notch for a more distinct flavor profile if desired.

The seasoning included sea salt, cane sugar and dried orange pulp. A few snips in the oven bag near the turkey breast allowed steam to escape as the turkey roasted and the broth helped to add some flavor and keep it moist. For those who love the aromatics of thyme and rosemary, you could ease a couple springs into those snips.

When it came to the side dishes, the Broccoli Au Gratin was our favorite flavorwise but it was a bit thin as opposed to creamy. Stirring in some cooked rice before reheating it entirely could help even things out a bit.

The Cornbread Stuffing and Whipped Mashed Potatoes were also good. If you’re the garlic butter type, try stirring a little into the mashed potatoes with a touch of black pepper.

The fully prepared Natural Turkey Meal is a convenient alternative to doing it yourself. If you lean more toward the lighter side of seasoning, enjoy it as-is. If you’d like to make it your own, taste first, then go to town with your own variety of seasoning. Also, feel free to use your own serving platters to make your dinner service pretty and festive.

To order a meal of your own, visit the Sprouts website. You’ll need to place your order 48 hours in advance and can do so now through December 29th.

To learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market

Visit their Website | Follow on Twitter

Disclosure: The fully prepared Natural Turkey Meal was generously provided by Sprouts Farmers Market. All opinions in this post are based on my own personal experience. You can view my full Disclosure Policy here.

Thanksgiving Desserts (lots of great ideas and choices):

Most families serve at least two (2) dessert choices.

Pumpkin Pie – Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie – How about making this very easy and traditional pumpkin pie for your Thanksgiving dinner?

Pumpkin Swirl Gingersnap Cheesecake – Here is a fun twist for your pumpkin cheesecake. The delicate swirling of the pumpkin in the cheesecake makes a beautifully festive holiday dessert. I usually make this cheesecake ahead of time and freeze it. See .

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie – This very light pumpkin chiffon pie will be a big hit at your Thanksgiving dinner. People who are not a big fan of the traditional pumpkin pie, like this version.

Pumpkin Empanadas – Pumpkin empanadas are made both on Thanksgiving and Christmas for some Mexican-style Thanksgiving Dinners.

Devonshire Cream or creme fraiche or sweetened whipped cream to top your pies.

Pecan Praline Pie – There is the plain pecan pie and there is this “souped-up” version that the Southern people make for Thanksgiving dinner. This is a delicious alternate to the classic pecan pie.

Pecan Pie – The only way this pie could be better tasting is to serve it warm and topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Buttermilk Pie – This is a delicious, old-fashion Buttermilk Pie. Do not be put off by the buttermilk – this is a sweet and flavorful pie. My aunt made five pies for a family reunion, and this pie was definitely my favorite!

Old-Fashioned Mincemeat Pie – This has been my favorite holiday pie since I was a little girl. My mother and grandmother used to make her own homemade mincemeat.

Mom’s Apple Pie – This is my Mother’s apple pie recipe. You can never do wrong serving this pie. It is so good!

Lighter Dessert Ideas:

Spiced Pumpkin Mousse Trifle – How about a light dessert? Wouldn’t this be an excellent dessert for your Thanksgiving Dinner?
Pumpkin Parfait – A light alternative to pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner.


Now is the time to sit back and relax. Forget about the mess in the kitchen and just relax and enjoy your family and/or friends. (I know, the mess is still in your kitchen waiting to be cleaned up) but now is not the time to jump up and start cleaning. Just relax and visit!

Coffee – How to make a perfect cup of coffee?

How To Use a French Press – coffee press, plunger press and/or press coffee

Main Dish Alternatives

If you do not desire turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, how about substituting for one of the following:

Prime Rib Dinner I – (7-course dinner)

Prime Rib Dinner II – (Christmas or Thanksgiving Dinner)

Learn how to cook the Perfect Prime Rib

Honey-Glazed Ham Dinner Menu – (with recipes)

Ham 101 – Learn all about the different types of ham and how to cook them.

Roasted Crown of Pork Loin – Truly one of the most magnificent of all holiday entrees! Impress your guest with this attractive Roasted Crown Loin of Pork. It is a real show stopper!

Vegetarian/Vegan Thanksgiving:
Tofurky/Tofurkey Recipe with Vegan Gravy – For your vegetarian and vegan family and friends.

Turkey Variations:

How about substituting your oven-roasted turkey for:

Barbecued or Grilled Whole Turkey – This is a very easy and efficient way to cook your Thanksgiving turkey. No mess in your oven or the kitchen. A whole turkey may be prepared on either a gas grill or a charcoal grill. This method requires a covered barbecue grill and heavy duty aluminum foil. Your turkey will be crisp outside and juicy inside.

Cajun Fried Turkey – This is the best way of cooking a turkey I have ever tasted. The turkey is anything but greasy as the deep-frying process seals the outside and the turkey remains incredibly juicy, while the skin gets wonderfully crispy.

Smoked Turkey – Learn how to smoke a whole turkey.how to smoke a whole turkey.

Turducken – This regional delight has become one of the latest food fads. From the outside it looks like a turkey, but when you cut through it, you see a series of rings making up the three birds and three stuffings.

Tofurky (Torfurkey) – Vegetarian/Vegan Thanksgiving:
For your vegetarian and vegan family and friends.

Southwest/Mexican Thanksgiving:

Mexican Americans and others have put their own gastronomical twist on Thanksgiving meals. These are not “tradition,” nor are they found at all Thanksgiving celebrations, which include Latin American foods, but they are the foods many consider a Thanksgiving meal in the Southwest.

Turkey in Mole Sauce (Mole Poblano de Guajolote) – A Southwest and Mexican Thanksgiving favorite.

Homemade Tamales

Turkey Hints and Tips:

Turkey Basics – How to purchase, stuff, and roast a turkey. Choosing a fresh or frozen turkey. How to thaw a frozen turkey. How to prepare turkey for stuffing.

Thanksgiving Planning – Stress-Free Thanksgiving – How to plan and prepare your Thanksgiving dinner in advance without stress.

Guidelines for Brining Poultry – The secret to juicy chicken breast is simple – brine them before grilling or baking! It is very easy and economical, and requires no special cookware.

Guidelines For Roasting a Whole Turkey – Learn how to safely and easily prepare and roast your turkey.

Advice on Stuffing a Turkey Safely – As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday draws near, learn how to safely stuff your turkey.

Using a Cooking or Meat Thermometer – Have you ever cut into a turkey to see if it has finished cooking?
Cooking thermometers take the guesswork out of cooking, as they measures the internal temperature of your cooked meat and poultry to assure that a safe temperature has been reached, harmful bacteria have been destroyed, and your turkey is cook perfectly.

Making Perfect Turkey Gravy – Hints and tips for making that perfect turkey gravy.

Handling Leftovers Safely – Leftover” foods are cooked foods that you or your family do not eat within 2 hours after they are cooked. Improper handling or storing cooked food is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the home.

Let’s Make Turkey Stock – My favorite thing to do the morning after Thanksgiving is to make homemade turkey stock from the turkey carcass. It is so easy to do and so delicious! The turkey stock can be used for a delicious soup or frozen for future use.

Food Safety Pages:

Buffet and Party Safety – Also includes what to do if your guests have been delayed at least an hour

Golden Rules of Food Safety – IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT! If you have any question in your mind about the freshness or safety of eating a food product, throw it out. It is better to be safe than sorry!

Etiquette, Entertaining, and Party Planning Help

Dining Etiquette Guide – Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette

Simple Rules for Planning a Dinner Party

What is a Recipe? – Learn how to follow a recipe, why some recipes do not work, and about Mise en Place

Appetizer Hints – How many appetizers to make for your party

Buffet & Party Safety – Organizing Your Buffet Supper

Etiquette Faux Pas and Other Misconceptions About Afternoon Tea – Due to the new popularity of Afternoon Tea, many people have jumped on the bandwagon, including hotels, caterers, party planners, and protocol and etiquette “experts.” While their enthusiasm is well intended, unfortunately a great deal of misinformation is being perpetuated by these.

Invitation to Afternoon Tea – The invitation has just arrived in the mail. What do you do next? When one is invited to an afternoon tea.

Thanksgiving dinner: What is a traditional Thanksgiving menu and how healthy is it?

Thanksgiving dinner is beloved by millions around the world for its whopping size and wonderful taste.

After all, who doesn’t love roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mashed potatoes?

But did you know that some Thanksgiving dinners weigh in at an eye-watering 4,500 calories?

It’s probably quite a relief then that it only comes around once a year.

Some dishes such as roast turkey and cranberry sauce are quite healthy, but others like pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows are, unsurprisingly, loaded with fat and sugar.

But just how healthy is Thanksgiving dinner, and what are the biggest culprits on the dinner table? We take a look at the best and worst offenders.

Pumpkin pie – surprisingly not too unhealthy (Element5 Digital/Unsplash)


A bird loved by gym-goers worldwide for its low fat and high protein content, turkey is perhaps the only non-negotiable dish at Thanksgiving.

Roasted in the oven and not deep fried, turkey contains high levels of vitamins B-6 and 12, niacin, choline, selenium and zinc, along with the aforementioned high protein count.

Removing the skin will cut a lot of the fat content, while the dark meat has more calories and fat than white – but does have more nutrients and vitamins.

Mashed potato

Don’t listen to the low carb and paleo brigade – potato is good for us, albeit when it’s not mashed with tonnes of butter and salt.

Technically a vegetable, potatoes have plenty of vitamin C, fibre, potassium, starchy carbohydrates and even some protein.

But when you add things like butter and milk to the mix, you are inevitably upping the calorie, saturated fat and cholesterol content, while peeling the skins also removes much of a potato’s fibre content, which is essential for weight management and digestive health.

Roast turkey is actually a healthy choice (AP)

Cranberry sauce

Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, and are often touted as a miracle fruit famed for their ability to cure urinary tract infections.

While cranberry sauce itself isn’t necessarily too harmful, it does contain a lot of suger – and shop-bought ones tend to be rammed full of the sweet stuff, so it’s best to make your own.


What’s a Thanksgiving dinner without a mountain of gravy to go with it? Unfortunately for the health conscious, it’s perhaps not the most calorie-wise choice.

Homemade gravy, made from the drippings of the roast meat, is unsurprisingly going to be pretty high in fat, while shop-bought versions will add a load of sodium to it as well.

Using less fat in your homemade version will cut the calories somewhat, and not dousing your food with gravy will again cut calories – but let’s face it, that’s what makes it so delicious and Thanksgiving is only once a year.


Stuffing isn’t particularly good for you (Chelsea shapouri/Unsplash)

Who doesn’t love some delicious stuffing? But is it healthy? Well the short answer is, like all your favourite things, a short, sharp no.

Stuffings usually contain some form of processed white bread and meats, and they spend a few hours inside the turkey soaking up all the fat and roasting juices.

Consumerreports.org says that an ice cream scoop of stuffing contains around 195 calories and a whole load of sodium, while the benefits of having vegetables in the stuffing will be outweighed by the amount of fat and sodium lurking in it.

Green bean casserole

One of the most quintessentially American dishes on the table, green bean casserole was invented in 1965 by the Campbells soup company.

Consisting of a can of cream of mushroom soup, crunchy fried onions and green beans, the dish is really not one for the health conscious.

The only truly healthy thing in here is the green beans and while they contain a wealth of nutrients, such as vitamin K, C and manganese, vegetables lose their nutrient content through cooking.

Not only this but the fried onion topping is a fat-and-sodium bomb, while canned soups can have high amounts of sodium. A single serving of this casserole is reputed to have around 140 calories.

Sweet potatoes with marshmallows

Thanksgiving dinner is a huge feast Daniel (Evan Sung)

Yes this is a thing in America apparently. Sweet potato is really good for us, containing high levels of betacarotine, fibre, vitamins A, C and B6 and slow release carbohydrates.

But topping them with marshmallows – which are just puffy balls of sugar and contain virtually no nutrients – is a nutritional no-no and should be nixed.

To top it off, usually the potato has been mashed along with a healthy dollop and butter and salt. Not one for the waistlines, then.


Corn is a whole grain, and the bread is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium and a number of different vitamins, but apart from that it’s not hugely great for you.

The fibre content is pretty low and they can come loaded with salt, sugar and fat, especially some store bought ones, which are often made with refined white flour.

That being said, the protein content is quite high for bread, but topping it with lots of butter and cheese is not a healthy move.

Pumpkin pie

Like sweet potato, pumpkin by itself is pretty good for you. It’s a good source of nutrients such as carotenoids, vitamins C and B, fibre and postassium.

But pumpkin pie is often made with cream, condensed milk and cream cheese, while whipped cream is often pipped on top, and most recipes call for a healthy serving of sugar.

However, it’s better than most other sweet, seasonal pies, such as apple and pecan, so if you’re going to splurge it’s probably the best option.

Best Thanksgiving recipes and menu ideas

Thanksgiving starters

Crab Donuts

London’s The Chiltern Firehouse’s crab donuts (or doughnuts) are a treat to make at home. If you’ve never tried a savoury one before this is the recipe to try for a Thanksgiving dinner snack.

Kale hush puppies with lemon aïoli

Hush puppies are little American savoury doughnuts in a polenta batter. A classic side dish for seafood, they are also great for parties. These vegetarian kale ones are eaten with an aioli dip and perfect finger food for Thanksgiving.

Fall-apart bourbon ribs

Few things are more satisfying to eat than tender, sticky ribs. This recipe adds a bourbon kick to the sweet glaze, providing a real depth of flavour. It will be a family favourite.

Thanksgiving turkey recipes and other mains for Thanksgiving dinner

Bay and lemon turkey with buttery leek stuffing

Overnight dry brining in flavoured salt will concentrate flavours, give you juicier meat and help the skin crisp up. Start this the day before, and you’ll be laughing come Thanksgiving day.

Maryland stuffed ham

A traditional Thanksgiving favourite in southern Maryland, this unusual recipe from Felicity Cloake stuffs brined ham with a piquant mix of highly spiced greens. Not only does this cut through the rich meat beautifully, but it looks great on the plate. Choose a long, thin gammon joint rather than a wide, fat piece as this will be easier to stuff. You’ll need cheesecloth and butcher’s string for this recipe. The glaze is less traditional (and optional) but will give the ham a nice finish.

Sweet and sour sticky pomegranate ham

A brilliant alternative to turkey, goose and lamb on Thanksgiving Day. The aromas while cooking this ham are sensational; leave the kitchen door open so that everyone can enjoy it.

Perfectly cooked turkey

Check out our recipe for a perfectly cooked turkey this Christmas and Thanksgiving. Cooking turkey in a foil tent means it will steam in its own juices, resulting in tender meat. Take off the foil and turn up the oven at the end to get crispy skin. Buy extra-large roasting foil for this and make sure you have a large enough roasting tin for the bird.

Potato, squash and sage pie

This recipe for potato, squash and sage pie may take a little longer, but it’s super easy and packed full of delicious flavours. It’s a great option for a veggie Sunday meal and Thanksgiving dinner.

Maple and bourbon glazed turkey

A different way to present your Thanksgiving turkey. Maple syrup and bourbon give a sweet but mature flavour, and a beautiful bronzed finish. And a few clementines for festive cheer, and you’ve got yourself a winning recipe.

Beef fillet with spiced pears and chestnut pickle

This recipe for beef fillet with spiced pears and chestnut pickle is easy to make but offers something a little bit different during the colder months. Buy chestnuts ready-peeled for ease.

Chestnut, squash and sweet potato loaf

Check out this vegan chestnut, squash and sweet potato loaf recipe. Precise layering makes this vegan main look really smart, but it’s actually easy to put together. This can be made the day before then heated through before serving for Thanksgiving.

Hot and smoky beef chilli

Best beef chilli fit for a crowd. Made with chipotle chilli and fresh green chilli this is both warming and with a kick. Serve with guacamole and rice.

Thanksgiving side dishes

Baked, spiced sweet potato mash

Don’t fancy potatoes this Thanksgiving? Try our spicy baked sweet potato mash instead – it’s just as good as roasties. Prep your mash ahead then have it ready to finish off in the oven when people arrive.

Maple barbecue beans

No American BBQ or Thanksgiving dinner is complete without baked beans. Slow-cooked in maple syrup, bacon and yellow mustard, the beans soak up all the smoky sauce.

Cheddar popovers

Just five ingredients are all you need to make these Amerian-style Yorkies. With their distinctive straight sides and puffy top, they get their name from the way they pop over the sides of the muffin tin. You can buy a popover tray from amazon.co.uk or a heavy non-stick muffin tin will do the job just as well. A great Thanksgiving nibble.

Steakhouse-style spinach gratin

This is a different way to eat spinach and a great way to get one of your five-a-day. Make this easy steakhouse-style gratin recipe as a side for a supper with friends.

Mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon

How do you make mac ‘n’ cheese better? Add bacon of course! This oozing cheesy pasta bake is also rich with Red Leicester and finished with a crunchy breadcrumb topping. Double up the recipe for a family meal or Thanksgiving dinner.

Whisky-and-maple-glazed roast parsnips

Take your parsnips up a notch with a boozy hit of whisky and the sweetness of maple syrup.

Thanksgiving desserts

Pumpkin pie with maple cream

The best pumpkin pie. Designed to impress, this rich creamy pud uses bought pastry, making it easy but still a special bake. Maple cream goes on the side for this classic Thanksgiving dessert.

Black bottom pie

This recipe for Southern pie by Felicity Cloake owes its name to its rich, dark cocoa base and chocolate custard, topped with a rum mousse and a cloud of whipped cream. Pure indulgence, Dixie style.

Deep dish apple pie

An American-style pie with a crisp sugar-crust. Serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Easy to make, this is sure to be a new family favourite over the festive season.

Baked raspberry cheesecake

We know you love this classic olive magazine recipe – it’s been one of our most popular recipes for years! A classic and really indulgent dessert, baked cheesecake is a crowd pleaser. The fresh raspberries on top cut through the rich body of the cheesecake. An alternative dessert for Thanksgiving dinner.

Chocolate brownie pecan tart

What’s better than a brownie? A chocolate brownie-filled tart with a crisp pecan topping. This rich dessert is easily made ahead if you are entertaining. Serve with creme fraiche or ice-cream.

Cinnamon-spiced pecan and cranberry duff

This recipe from Felicity Cloake is a New England take on the traditional British upside-down cake, this is often made with the north-east’s famous apples, but here cranberries and pecans provide a sharp, crunchy counterpoint to the rich, buttery batter. Great served warm with ice cream, or at room temperature with a cup of tea.

Dan Doherty’s lemon s’mores meringue pie

This recipe for lemon s’mores meringue pie comes from Dan Doherty of Duck and Waffle and makes for a stunning alternative Thanksgiving Day dessert. S’mores are roasted marshmallows sandwiched between biscuits. Toasted marshmallows added to the filling of this pie give it an extra bump of flavour and a gooey texture.

Mississippi mud pie

An ice cream version of the decadent American chocolate mud pie with crunchy hazelnuts and topped with rich fudge sauce.

Baileys Milkshake (The Dalmation)

An indulgent take on milkshake for grown ups. Baileys and vanilla ice cream, whizzed with Oreo biscuits, make an irresistible drink for the ultimate treat for Thanksgiving Day.

10 Foods That Should Be on Your List for a True Thanksgiving Meal

When’s the last time you told your friends and family that you love them?

Have you thought lately about how awesome it is that you have a roof over your head (a place to live) and good food to eat?

Sometimes we forget to feel lucky and thankful for all the people in our lives, and all things we have. That’s called taking things for granted. The Thanksgiving holiday is a day when we can remember all the things we take for granted on other days, and are thankful for them.

Thanksgiving is also a day when we eat a lot of food, so we’re going to look at the 10 most common foods to eat on Thanksgiving.

There’s no better way to feel great about the things you have than to eat lots of good food with friends and family!

What Is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November every year. When the holiday was first created many years ago, it was meant to celebrate the last harvest, the time when crops (plants) and grown food is collected from the fields.

Many Americans know the holiday better for an old story though: In 1621, the pilgrims (the people who were living in Northeastern America at the time) and the Native Americans had a three-day celebration where they ate together in peace. The two groups of people had worked together, and the feast (big celebratory meal) was a way to share and enjoy the harvest together.

Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving, but slightly earlier than Americans. Canadian Thanksgiving is on the first Monday of October every year. Canada was actually the first country to celebrate the festival of giving thanks, which was started by Martin Frobisher in 1578 after he returned safely from an exploration trip.

Today, Thanksgiving has a slightly different meaning for people. For many Americans and Canadians, Thanksgiving is for spending time with their family, and to remember to be thankful for what they have.

Thanksgiving is also a time to eat… a lot! There are a number of traditional foods that are served on Thanksgiving, and it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.

10 Different Ways to Say “to Eat” in English

The Thanksgiving feast is huge! To enjoy your meal, you can’t just eat it—you might need to use some more descriptive words for eating!

Before you start eating, you should try a nibble of your food. That’s just a little bite to get a taste of the food in front of you before you dig in, or start eating.

When you eat your food, you could say you ingest it—but that’s a word often used by scientists. When you eat your meal very fast you, can say you devoured it.

When it comes to eating, no one does it as well as animals! When you eat a lot of food very quickly, you can say you gobble up your food (gobble is the sound turkeys make)! You can also wolf down your food (eat it quickly in big pieces), or pig out on it (eat too much).

When you finish the meal, you can say you have polished it off or cleaned your plate.

Is all this talk of eating getting you hungry?

10 Traditional Foods for a True Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without the turkey. The turkey is usually prepared whole, filled with fruit, vegetables or other stuffing (more on stuffing in #2!). It’s also usually seasoned, which means covered in herbs for flavor and smell.

The turkey is then roasted, meaning cooked in an oven or over an open fire. The best roasted turkeys are juicy and delicious, but roasting a turkey takes skill. The turkey is notorious (well known for something negative) for being dry.

You can learn how to roast a mouth-watering turkey—and some English vocabulary—with this FluentU video!

2. Stuffing/Dressing

“Stuff” is another way to say “things.” But the verb to stuff means that you fill something until it’s full. Thanksgiving stuffing (also called dressing) is the food that goes inside the roasted turkey.

But it’s also become a side dish, a dish of food that’s served next to the main course. Traditionally, Thanksgiving stuffing is made of bread and herbs, and sometimes sausage (a kind of hot dog) or other additional ingredients. Check out some stuffing/dressing recipes here!

Mashed potatoes are potatoes that have been boiled and peeled, and then crushed (mashed) into a soft and creamy dish. Add butter, milk and some garlic, and you have a perfect dish!

While you’re cooking the turkey (or many other meats), it will create juices. These juices can be turned into gravy, a thick sauce. This sauce is usually poured onto the mashed potatoes to give them more flavor.

5. Cranberry Sauce

There is something about the sweet but tangy (slightly sour) flavor of cranberry sauce that makes it the perfect side dish for turkey. There are plenty of places that sell cranberry sauce, but it’s very easy to make on your own as well.

To make cranberry sauce, boil cranberries, sugar, lemon zest (grated lemon peel) and water, and then simmer it (cook on a small flame). That’s all you need to do!

Bread rolls are another staple (an important part) of the Thanksgiving meal. Many times, these rolls are cornbread, which is made with cornmeal, a powder from dried and ground corn.

Corn is served in other ways at Thanksgiving, too. You might eat corn on the cob, which is grilled whole corn, or creamed corn, which is mashed corn soup or sauce.

7. Green Bean Casserole

A casserole is a stew that’s cooked slowly in the oven. Green bean casserole has cream of mushroom soup, fried onions and— of course—green beans!

8. Candied Yams

Sweet potatoes are yellow, creamy types of potatoes that are also called yams. The sweet flavor and soft texture of these potatoes make them a versatile (easy to use in many situations) side dish for the main course.

You can bake them, make a casserole with them or mash them like regular potatoes. Or you can add spices, brown sugar and butter, place marshmallows on top and bake them into candied yams—a deliciously sweet dish which might remind you of (make you think of) candy, like the name suggests.

The pumpkin spice flavor in America now means that autumn is here. Almost everything has a pumpkin spice version! There’s pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice cookies… there are even pumpkin spice sausages and bagels!

Surprisingly, the flavor doesn’t even have actual pumpkin in it. But pumpkin pie does have pumpkin. A delicious warm spice and pumpkin filling inside a flaky crust will always warm you up. No wonder we love pumpkin spice so much in fall!

10. Pecan Pie

Complete the meal with a delectable (delicious) pecan pie, a pie that uses pecans (a type of nut) with spices and maple syrup. Pecan pie is irresistible (hard to say no to). Even if guests are too full to eat any more, they’ll make room for pecan pie!

Vocabulary After the Thanksgiving Meal

Now that you’re done eating, you can forget about the holiday, right? Not quite!

The Thanksgiving meal is so large that for many days after the dinner, people have leftovers—extra food that is left (remains) after the dinner is done.

Even though there are leftovers, a lot of food is also eaten on the holiday. Many people eat so much on Thanksgiving that they feel the need to detox afterwards—to remove toxins or bad substances from the body.

The day after Thanksgiving is another famous day, known as Black Friday. On Black Friday, stores across the country have huge sales where people wait in line for hours to buy cheap products (usually for Christmas gifts).

Are you too full to go out the day after Thanksgiving? Just wait until the Monday after, which is now known as Cyber Monday, when stores move their sales to the internet.

You don’t have to live in America or Canada to enjoy Thanksgiving. All you need is a lot of food, an empty belly (stomach) and some family and/or friends. Remember to give thanks for all that you have!

And One More Thing…

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10. Turkey
Some people say turkey is delicious. These people are wrong.

We eat turkey at Thanksgiving not because it is the tastiest poultry or the easiest to cook, but because the bird’s large size allows us to feed many hungry people all at the same time.

In fact, baking a turkey is a labor-intensive exercise that requires time and practice to do well. Yet most American households only bake one turkey per year. This is why most Thanksgiving birds emerge dry and bland, often requiring the saving graces of gravy. If it weren’t for decades of tradition, you would be hard-pressed to find a household that wouldn’t mind skipping the messy process of prepping and baking a cumbersome turkey.

The exception to this rule is deep-fried turkey, which emerges from the backyard Lazarus pits coated in hot peanut oil a transformed and inarguably more delicious creature. The downside, of course, is that deep-frying a bird carries the risk of setting your home on fire. Such is the nature of turkey: The bad frequently outweighs the good.

9. Corn bread
Simply the best of the breads, all of which otherwise fail to crack the top 10. Corn bread strikes a harmonious balance between sweet and savory that can complement just about anything. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that rolls are an OK carbohydrate substitute. Don’t be fooled.

8. Green bean casserole
A relic of post-World War II efficiency, the humble green bean casserole was created in the mid-1950s by the Campbell Soup Company. It is a comfort food in the truest sense that accomplishes the improbable: It makes icky green beans palatable. Such innovation is why the casserole has carved out a place for itself in the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.

7. Mac and cheese
It has been brought to my attention by my colleagues here at The Week that many households do not indulge in the gooey, al dente perfection that is homemade mac and cheese. To which I say: Are you people insane?

I make mine with jalapenos and add pancetta, which anecdotal evidence suggests is always a worthy contribution. There are never leftovers.

6. Mashed potatoes
You can load them with garlic. Or infuse them with rosemary. If you’d like, you can fashion mashed potatoes into a bed for your turkey, or sculpt them into a concave vessel for gravy. Such versatility is truly American, and should be celebrated as such.

5. Ham
Ham is moist, flavorful, textured, and requires little work to do well. It is the inverse of turkey. Simply rub with brown sugar or bathe it in cola — preferably both. Ham is as underrated as its cousin bacon is overexposed.

4. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows
Fun fact: Sweet potatoes are a near-perfect health food. They are packed with Vitamin A, B6, and fiber — and can help you lose weight. Realistically speaking you probably won’t — especially with a fluffy bed of marshmallows layered on top. But it’s a comforting thought.

3. Gravy
The gravy boat is the most sought-after dish on the Thanksgiving table. A thick, hearty gravy can save even the blandest of meals. Think of it this way: Would you rather have a carving of turkey breast without gravy, or no turkey at all? The answer should be clear.

2. Stuffing
Turkey merely provides a cavity for stuffing, Thanksgiving’s true centerpiece. Stuffing is a reward, akin to delectable candy packed into a tasteless Butterball piñata. Stuffing is so good, in fact, that we willfully eat it out of the rear end of a dead animal.

1. Pie
Perhaps you are a pecan pie person. Or maybe pumpkin is more your thing. Sweet potato pie is sublime. All are excellent choices. Each slice is an edible, triangulated vessel for whipped cream, or, if you are ambitious, ice cream. Need to excuse yourself and change into sweatpants? Sure thing. Because pie.

Pie is the light at the end of the tunnel, the reason we push ourselves and “make room.” Each bit of flaky crust filled with nature’s caramelized sugar is a testament to human perseverance. Pie is a triumph.

The History Behind 10 Thanksgiving Dishes

Halloween is for candy comas, and on Independence Day we grill, but no holiday is as completely defined by its cuisine as Thanksgiving. No matter what part of the country you’re in, it’s a safe bet that at least a few of the below dishes will be making an appearance on your table this week. But what makes these specific entrees and side dishes so emblematic of Thanksgiving? Read on to discover the sometimes-surprising history behind your favorite fall comfort foods.

1. Turkey


Turkey has become so synonymous with Thanksgiving that most of us probably imagine the pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans chowing down on a roast bird in 1621. Although we don’t know the exact menu of that first Plymouth Colony feast, a first-person account of the year’s harvest from governor William Bradford does reference “a great store of wild turkeys,” and another first-person account, from colonist Edward Winslow, confirms that the settlers “killed as much fowl as … served the company almost a week.” However, culinary historian Kathleen Wall believes that, although turkeys were available, it’s likely that duck, goose, or even passenger pigeons were the more prominent poultry options at the first Thanksgiving. Given their proximity to the Atlantic, local seafood like oysters and lobsters were likely on the menu as well.

As the holiday grew in popularity, however, turkey became the main course for reasons more practical than symbolic. English settlers were accustomed to eating fowl on holidays, but for early Americans, chickens were more valued for their eggs than their meat, and rooster was tough and unappetizing. Meanwhile, turkeys were easy to keep, big enough to feed a whole family, and cheaper than ducks or geese. Even before Thanksgiving was recognized as a national holiday, Alexander Hamilton himself remarked that “No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” The country followed his advice: according to the National Turkey Federation, 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey in some form on Thanksgiving Day—an estimated 44 million birds!

2. Stuffing


Stuffing would have been a familiar concept to those early settlers as well, although their version was likely quite different from what we’re used to. We know that the first Plymouth colonists didn’t have access to white flour or butter, so traditional bread stuffing wouldn’t have been possible yet. Instead, according to Wall, they may have used chestnuts, herbs, and chunks of onion to flavor the birds, all of which were already part of the local fare. Centuries later, we’re still stuffing turkeys as a way to keep the bird moist through the roasting process and add extra flavor.

3. Cranberries


Like turkeys, cranberries were widely available in the area, but cranberry sauce almost certainly did not make an appearance at the first Thanksgiving. Why not? The sugar reserves the colonists would have had were almost completely depleted after their long sea journey, and thus they didn’t have the means to sweeten the terrifically tart berries.

So how did cranberries become such an autumnal staple? For starters, they’re a truly American food, as one of only a few fruits—along with Concord grapes, blueberries, and pawpaws—that originated in North America. They grow in such abundance in the northeast that colonists quickly began incorporating cranberries into various dishes, such as pemmican, which mixed mashed cranberries with lard and dried venison. By the Civil War, they were such a holiday staple that General Ulysses S. Grant famously demanded his soldiers be provided cranberries for their Thanksgiving Day meal.

4. Mashed Potatoes


Potatoes weren’t yet available in 17th-century Plymouth, so how did mashed potatoes become another Thanksgiving superstar? The answer lies in the history of the holiday itself. In America’s earliest years, it was common for the sitting president to declare a “national day of thanks,” but these were sporadic and irregular. In 1817, New York became the first state to officially adopt the holiday, and others soon followed suit, but Thanksgiving wasn’t a national day of celebration until Abraham Lincoln declared it so in 1863.

Why did Lincoln—hands full with an ongoing war—take up the cause? Largely due to a 36-year campaign from Sarah Josepha Hale, a prolific novelist, poet, and editor, who saw in Thanksgiving a moral benefit for families and communities. In addition to her frequent appeals to officials and presidents, Hale wrote compellingly about the holiday in her 1827 novel Northwood, as well as in the womens’ magazine she edited, Godey’s Lady’s Book. Her writing included recipes and descriptions of idealized Thanksgiving meals, which often featured—you guessed it—mashed potatoes.

5. Gravy


Despite a dearth of potatoes, it’s likely that some type of gravy accompanied the turkey or venison at the earliest Thanksgiving gatherings. The concept of cooking meat in sauce dates back hundreds of years, and the word “gravy” itself can be found in a cookbook from 1390. Because that first celebration extended over three days, Wall speculates: “I have no doubt whatsoever that birds that are roasted one day, the remains of them are all thrown in a pot and boiled up to make broth the next day.” That broth would then be thickened with grains to create a gravy to liven day-old meat. And, if Wall’s correct, that broth sounds suspiciously like the beginning of another great Thanksgiving tradition: leftovers!

6. Corn


Corn is a natural symbol of harvest season—even if you’re not serving it as a side dish, you might have a few colorful ears as a table centerpiece. We know that corn was a staple of the Native American diet and would have been nearly as plentiful in the 17th century as today. But according to the History Channel, their version would have been prepared quite differently: corn was either made into a cornmeal bread or mashed and boiled into a thick porridge-like consistency, and perhaps sweetened with molasses. Today, we eat corn in part to remember those Wampanoag hosts, who famously taught the newcomers how to cultivate crops in the unfamiliar American soil.

7. Sweet Potatoes


In the midst of so many New England traditions, the sweet potatoes on your table represent a dash of African-American culture. The tasty taters originally became popular in the south—while pumpkins grew well in the north, sweet potatoes (and the pies they could make) became a standard in southern homes and with enslaved plantation workers, who used them as a substitution for the yams they’d loved in their homeland. Sweet potato pie was also lovingly described in Hale’s various Thanksgiving epistles, solidifying the regional favorite as a holiday go-to. More recently, some families further sweeten the dish by adding toasted marshmallows, a love-it-or-hate-it suggestion that dates to a 1917 recipe booklet published by the Cracker Jack company.

8. Green Bean Casserole


Beans have been cultivated since ancient times, but green bean casserole is a decidedly modern contribution to the classic Thanksgiving canon. The recipe you probably know was whipped up in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly, a home economist working in the Campbell’s Soup Company test kitchens in Camden, New Jersey. Reilly’s job was to create limited-ingredient recipes that housewives could quickly replicate (using Campbell’s products, of course). Her original recipe (still available at Campbells.com), contains just six ingredients: Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, green beans, milk, soy sauce, pepper, and French’s French Fried Onions. Her recipe was featured in a 1955 Associated Press feature about Thanksgiving, and the association has proven surprisingly durable—Campbell’s now estimates that 30 percent of their Cream of Mushroom soup is bought specifically for use in a green bean casserole.

9. Pumpkin Pie


Like cranberries, pumpkin pie does have ties to the original Thanksgiving, albeit in a much different format. The colonists certainly knew how to make pie pastry, but couldn’t have replicated it without wheat flour, and might have been a bit perplexed by pumpkins, which were bigger than the gourds they knew in Europe. According to Eating in America: A History, however, Native Americans were already using the orange treats as a dessert meal: “Both squash and pumpkin were baked, usually by being placed whole in the ashes or embers of a dying fire and they were moistened afterwards with some form of animal fat, or maple syrup, or honey.” It’s likely that Hale was inspired by those stories when pumpkin pie appeared in her culinary descriptions.

10. Wine


Chances are good that a few glasses of wine will be clinked around your table this November, but did the pilgrims share a tipsy toast with their new friends? Kathleen Wall thinks that water was probably the beverage of choice, considering that the small amount of wine the settlers had brought with them was likely long gone. Beer was a possibility, but since barley hadn’t been cultivated yet, the pilgrims had to make do with a concoction that included pumpkins and parsnips. Considering the availability of apples in what would become Massachusetts, however, other historians think it’s possible that hard apple cider was on hand for the revelers to enjoy. Whether or not the original feast was a boozy affair, cider rapidly became the drink of choice for English settlers in the area, along with applejack, apple brandy, and other fruit-based spirits. New England cider thus indirectly led to a less-beloved Thanksgiving tradition: your drunk uncle’s annual political rant. Bottoms up!


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