Simplifying Thanksgiving and My Menu

Simplifying Thanksgiving and My Menu

This Thanksgiving, if you are hosting the Big Dinner, realize that there is no model of perfection you must hold yourself to. I want you to extend that beautiful sense of compassion that I know you have to the most important person in the room. You.

Perhaps you spend more time stuck in the kitchen than soaking up quality time with your cherished family. Today I’m giving you permission to chill a little bit with 3 ways to go easier on yourself.

But first…

Thanksgiving is a holiday rooted in gratefulness and compassion. These core values remain despite the commercial Black Friday or the mass-eating of turkeys that has become associated with it. This year, focus on honoring those values.

And hold your seat for a moment while I go all ethical on you for a few lines. (Or scroll ahead, I don’t mind!) I promise we will get back to food, and I thank you in advance for allowing me to speak my truth.

Turkeys are social characters with personalities as varied as the companion cats in our lives. If you’ve ever been to a farm sanctuary, chances are you remember the turkeys with a smile. Some even like to be pet like cats and will lean in to your touch for more.

Any idea how many turkeys are slaughtered for Thanksgiving dinners across the continent? It saddens me, and I do not wish to participate in that.

That being said, my sis and I cook a full vegan Thanksgiving at my family’s house every holiday, and we have not yet gotten my parents to ditch the turkey. We’ve reached a compromise where they cook it a day in advance and bring it out to reheat last minute.

Social situations are often out of your control. Go easy on yourself, and just worry about your own actions.

If you are torn up about what to do in one of these social situations, my advice: do not let these kinds of decisions eat you up inside. My family has been incredibly supportive of my choices, and I know that not everyone is at the same place in their journey. As long as I am living my values in a positive way, I know I will inspire change in others. Even if it’s gradual.

Scroll down to see the simple menu I’ve prepared for Thanks-living this year! 🙂

This Thanksgiving, extend compassion to yourself

In the past, when I wanted to make a big deal about Thanksgiving dinner, I was so stressed out that I spent the whole day cooking and didn’t enjoy family – which is what the whole day is about!

Here are a few ways to make Thanksgiving easier on you:

  1. Forget Going Fancy

    At past Thanksgivings, I’ve always had a centerpiece – quinoa stuffed acorn squash, a homemade-from-scratch stuffing-filled seitan “turkey”… This was on top of managing and coordinating the rest of the meal prep. It led to me being burned out and cranky. And no one cared how interesting the food was but me.

    Now, I keep it all side dishes – basic but delicious. If I feel up to it and time allows, I choose one interesting item that I want to try out. Then I spend my time in the kitchen laughing with my sister and mom while we leisurely chop ingredients rather than running around in a flurry trying to get the right timing.

  2. Cook Ahead

    If you have the opportunity, make some dishes the day in advance to take the pressure off. It will save a little bit of your sanity to not do such a balancing act. I’m making a few items the day before and reheating them.

  3. Let guests bring a dish

    If someone offers to bring a dish, let them. Even if it doesn’t meet your complete standards, it still takes the pressure off you. One of my good friends said he would like to make a pumpkin soup to bring. So I crossed off the borscht I was planning on making. Less work for me!

Here’s what a basic whole foods plant-based Thanksgiving menu looks like.

What’s cookin’ at chez Adria:

To make ahead on Wednesday

  • Mushroom gravy
  • Cranberry sauce (with stevia and/or dates)
  • Pumpkin pie (from the Vegan Delish App): my “project” recipe to try, with cashews and dates rather than tofu and sugar

Thursday cooking

  • Mashed potatoes and white beans
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Steamed green beans
  • Buckwheat cabbage rolls
  • Sourdough stuffing
  • Salad

It’s all really simple stuff which is forgiving and doesn’t require perfect timing. I’m still making more dishes than I need to, but if I was more pressed for time, I’d remove the cabbage rolls, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce and still have a superbly yummy meal for everyone.

Now your turn. What’s your Thanks-living menu look like?

More Unforgettable Insight

2 Responses to Simplifying Thanksgiving and My Menu

  1. I really liked this post. I think I am going to be calling this holiday “Thanks-Living” going forward! Just to let you know you have inspired change in me. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I really liked this post. I think I am going to be calling this holiday “Thanks-Living” going forward! Just to let you know you have inspired change in me. Thanks for sharing.

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