Article provided by Amanda Seghetti
Each year, I struggle to find the perfect Thanksgiving menu. Sometimes I try a new recipe that flops, and other times I only make the basics and my family finds it boring or not enough. I didn’t realize it before, but it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right spread of dishes so everyone can each have something that they like.
This Thanksgiving, I’m confident that I’ve finally done it: I’ve found a spread of dishes – some healthy, some a little indulgent – that have been pre-tested by everyone and that my whole family enjoys. I’ve also been able to find ingredients that use flexible packaging to keep things more eco-friendly. I love that we can all enjoy our favorite foods while being mindful of our impact on the environment!
Here I’m sharing my complete Thanksgiving menu so you can perfect your favorite holiday meal too!
Paleo Stuffed Mushrooms with Sausage
This stuffed mushroom recipe is one of MY personal favorites. It includes all my favorite fall ingredients: ground sausage, baby bella mushrooms, delicious apples, a bag of pecans, and some dried cranberries to list a few. You can’t tell me that that doesn’t sound delicious.
Well. You can. I just won’t believe you. Agree to disagree, you know?
Luckily (or unluckily, since I wouldn’t have TOTALLY minded having them all for myself) for me, the mushrooms are a hit with a few other members of the Seghetti household. The earthy taste of the mushrooms go so well with the flavorful sausage, and the sweet fruitiness of the apples and cranberries help round it out so your taste buds dance at the flavor. The subtle crunch of the pecan bits are just… *chef’s kiss*
If the sound of it doesn’t immediately make you salivate, trust me when I say that the second you pop it in your mouth you’ll understand.
The Seghetti Fruit Turkey has been my children’s favorite Thanksgiving dish for years! Not only does it include their favorite fruits, but they also get to help out by making it themselves. We usually make it using half a pear for the body and then mandarin oranges, halved grapes, apple slices, raspberries, and blueberries to make the feathers for the turkey.
You know what the best part about this recipe is, though? You don’t even have to follow my recipe. Just make it your own!
Your kid doesn’t like pears? Alright, use half of an apple, or a mango. Your child doesn’t like berries? That’s great too, just substitute a different fruit of your choice. If you want to make it even healthier, you can even use veggies instead of fruits. This recipe is one that is completely up to you and your family’s discretion and tastes!
You thought this menu was going to be completely healthy, right? Haha nope. If any of these recipes are indulgent, it’s definitely the stuffing. Everyone in my family loves stuffing, and times I’ve tried to be healthy in the past have been foiled by the disappearance of the stuffing. “How can you have Thanksgiving without stuffing?” In this family, you really can’t.
Now, I’m sure that there’s healthy stuffing recipes out there, but since this an indulging dish and there are plenty of OTHER healthy items here… I think we can let this one slide in. Sometimes we don’t do anything special for this one, just buy some pre-packaged stuffing and make it according to the instructions.
Occasionally I make stuffing from scratch with this delicious stuffing recipe that has been passed down. If you want to wow them, make it from scratch. Otherwise, they’ll love it out of a bag and it will still taste delicious!
Sweet Potato Apple Cranberry Bake
Ok, this right here? My favorite. Yes, I said that the mushrooms were my favorite. This is my absolute favorite dish ever! Baked sweet potatoes, honeycrisp apples, and fresh cranberries that pop in your mouth? Yum. Baked together in a pan with walnut pieces and sprinkled with cinnamon? YUM. It’s practically dessert as a side dish, but healthier and with no added sugars.
My only wish is that I had a better name for it than sweet potato apple cranberry bake. It’s a long name for a dish that doesn’t last long in our house!
Not going to lie, I wish this one wasn’t enjoyed by the rest of my family as much as it is so I could enjoy it more myself. My older sons like this one the most, although Theo has a tendency to eat all the apples and cranberries while Kaiden likes to hog the sweet potatoes. I have to snag a plate early or they’ll eat it all! Maybe this one is liked a little TOO much, so if your family is the same way you may want to make a little extra or serve it in moderation.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans
You know what? It’s too hard deciding on a favorite; my entire Thanksgiving menu is totally yummy.
Sheet pan food? Check. Brussels sprouts? Check. Bacon? Check, check, check. This one is perfect for Paleo and Whole30 lovers too, as long as your ingredients are compliant with their rules. Win-win all around!
Put your roasted Brussels sprouts in a nice dish and save the balsamic drizzle for last in case you have picky eaters in your family (like I do) and you’ve got a yummy AND mostly healthy side dish. Want that extra crisp but someone else doesn’t? Feel free to split the dish in half so you can keep cooking some of the Brussels sprouts and have them extra crispy.
Of course, you really can’t have a Thanksgiving meal without the Thanksgiving turkey. This year, I’m making the same roasted turkey that I did last year with aromatic apples, onions, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, and sparkling water. This one can be a little tricky when you’re doing it from scratch. If you haven’t read my post already, I recommend you click over to read all about my turkey roasting mishaps! Not only is it funny, it may save you from making those same mistakes.
Turkey had always been a tricky one for us in the past – no one likes a dry turkey, and we’ve had that unfortunate situation before. Luckily for us (and you), this recipe turned out perfectly despite my struggling and we didn’t have any dryness to complain about. If you want a delicious turkey with a funny story to accompany it, this is the one for you!
Deciding on a Thanksgiving dessert is always so hard. How can you have just one when there’s so many good options? This year, we are having a dairy-free pumpkin pie – and I think I’ll use real pumpkin too.
While we aren’t totally dairy-free, I do try to limit dairy products where I can. This recipe just happens to be one where you can’t tell if I use dairy-free milk products or not!
In case you hadn’t noticed, many of the ingredients I used for my Thanksgiving menu came in flexible packaging. It’s not very difficult to find them all, any local grocery store will have everything you need even if you have to search a little bit.
But… what is flexible packaging, Amanda?
Well, as I mention in a previous post on flexible packaging, it’s where the package or part of its shape can be readily changed when filled or during its use. Think foil, plastic, pouches, or paper. Not cans, jars, or any other package that retains most of its shape.
In this case, I’m using bagged apples, bagged cranberries, bagged nuts, and the container of mushrooms just to name a few. In other situations, yogurt squeezes, bagged cereal, even applesauce pouches are all in flexible packaging.
If it’s possible to manipulate the container in some way that gets all the food inside the package out, it’s flexible packaging.
To put it simply: If the packaging is flexible then it’s flexible packaging.
But Amanda, WHY flexible packaging? The main reason all has to do with the environment and reducing food waste. Not only is less food spoiled since you’re able to squeeze every last bit out of that sauce packet, but it takes less resources to manufacture and sends less waste to the landfill.
In most cases, flexible packaging can be recycled or even reused. Even produce bags (like the bag of apples) can be reused for trash or doggy waste pickup.
Look for flexible packaging the next time you’re at the grocery store. It’s easy to make simple swaps when you’re aware of how much flexible packaging can help. If you want to do a little something for the environment, this is a very simple and easy way to do it.