Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Creative Thanksgiving Recipes for Special Diets

It's okay. You can say it. Sometimes you get bored with the same old mashed potatoes and gravy every year at Thanksgiving. Although you might be a little scared to try something new for a holiday firmly rooted in tradition, we're pretty sure no one in your family is going to stage a coup if you change up the menu a little this year.

If you want to try something a more creative, inspired, healthy or sustainable this year, there are so many resources available online. We've collected a list of some of our favorite alternative recipes, with a little help from everyone's favorite pin board—Pinterest! (Click the images for links to these pins.)

Source: eatingwell.com via Tracey on Pinterest
Vegetarian Recipes 

In some homes it's pretty impossible for a vegetarian to eat find something to eat at Thanksgiving.

The green beans have bacon in them. The stuffing is made with chicken broth. The list goes on.

If Cousin Jen's a vegetarian, we're guessing she'll be very thankful to see one of these yummy dishes on the buffet.

Source: godairyfree.org 
Dairy-Free Recipes

As lovers of dairy in general, we don't know what a world without dairy is like. But for those who are lactose intolerant or suffer from dairy allergies, the Thanksgiving menu can be a challenge.

Go Dairy Free has tons of recipes to choose from including breads, main dishes, vegetables, sides, and everyone's favorite—dessert!

In fact, the Pumpkin Soufflé is gluten-free and soy-free. Sounds like a winner on all counts.

Sustainable Thanksgiving Recipes

Many of us are concerned about doing what we can to ensure that we take care of the earth for future generations. One we can do that is to implement greener, more sustainable living habits.

One place to start is with your Thanksgiving meal. This site features tips for preparing better birds from organic, pasteurized and heritage breed turkeys. Of course, going meatless for Thanksgiving is also a way to have a sustainable Thanksgiving.

You will even find sustainable drink recipes on this site. They key is to buy local and use fruits and vegetables from your own garden this year.

Are you changing up the Thanksgiving menu this year? 
What are you going to try?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

Source: familyfun.go.com via Natalie on Pinterest
You can work on these Thanksgiving crafts for kids ahead of time to help decorate for the family feast, or you can set up a workstation for the kids while the adults work hard to prepare the meal.

Fun Crafts for Kids

Finger Stamp Place Cards: Your children's fingerprints make colorful turkey place cards for the dinner table. Get all the project details from the Disney Family Fun website.

Turkey Cupcakes: This treats will delight everyone at the kids' table this year--and probably some adults too! With cupcakes, frosting, candy corn and sandwich cookies, Linette Gerlach at Amazing Moms shows you how to make these scrumptious treats.

Paper Plate Pilgrims: The people of All Kids Network have come up with an adorable craft project—making girl and boy pilgrims from paper plates, paints, crayons, glue and construction paper. These would be perfect for the kitchen door or the fridge.

Toilet Paper Roll Turkeys: This is another great Thanksgiving craft from All Kids Network. Save those empty toilet paper rolls to make these happy turkeys. You'll also need some construction paper and googly eyes to complete this craft.

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages: Coloring is a long-time kids' favorite! At DLTK's site you will find several different Thanksgiving themed coloring pages. In fact, if the adults are feeling a little stressed, we recommend you sit down and take a few minutes to color a page too.

Thankful Tree: What is your family thankful for? With this handprint tree everyone in the family can work together to create a gorgeous fall-colored tree and share something you're thankful for.

Crafts are a great way to make this Thanksgiving a little more colorful and a lot more fun. What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving crafts for kids? Share your links in the comments.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creating Thanksgiving Traditions

Fall Pinwhirls for the Thanksgiving Table
What makes Thanksgiving so special is its ability to bring extended families together year after year to celebrate and share our many blessings. Whether your Thanksgivings are formal or casual, they can always be extra special from the decorations right down to the tasty dinner.

If your family is young, you might want to brainstorm some new traditions that your children can look forward to and carry with them as they grow up. We've got some ideas to get you started.

Creating Thanksgiving Traditions for Your Family
  1. Cook Together: No matter how young your children are, there are plenty of ways to get them involved with meal preparations. Ask them to help you wash veggies, peel potatoes, roll out pie dough or even help you plan the menu.
  3. Share Stories About Your Childhood Thanksgivings: This is particularly memorable if you have some physical object to tie to the cherished memory. For example, do you use your grandmother's gravy boat every Thanksgiving? Tell your children why that item is so precious to you.
  5. Keep a Journal of Thanks: You and your children can keep a journal of thanks all month long, filling it up with something you are thankful for every day leading up to Thanksgiving. Turn the journal into a scrapbook and fill it with family photos from Thanksgiving day.
  7. Share Your Blessings: Volunteer as a family to serve a Thanksgiving meal at your local soup kitchen or place of worship. Taking time to serve others is a great way to spend time as a family, and it could become a family tradition that endures for many more generations.
  9. Use Black Friday to Shop for a Needy Family: If shopping is your thing, spend Black Friday buying gifts for a needy family or a charity like Toys for Tots. You can still experience the thrill of the holiday shopping season while doing something good for someone else.
  11. Make a Wish: Don't forget to break the wishbone! The person who gets the longest piece of the wishbone gets to make a wish. This Thanksgiving tradition actually dates back all the way to the Etruscans of 322 B.C.! Now that's a long-standing tradition.
  13. Watch TV: Spending a little time together in front of the TV is okay too. You can cheer on your favorite football teams or pick your favorite balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
What family traditions have you started at Thanksgiving? 

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    5 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

    If you are hosting your family's Thanksgiving dinner celebration, chances are you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Lots of hostesses feel the pressure of making such an important holiday perfect in every way. We've got some great ideas to help you pull it off without losing your mind.

    5 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner
    1. Ask for Help: There is nothing wrong with a Thanksgiving potluck! If everyone brings a dish, that gives you more time to focus on the little finishing touches like making sure the house is decorated just the way you want. If you're worried that you'll end up with 12 pumpkin pies, you can always assign courses first.
    2. Shop Early: If you don't already have most of the ingredients, get to the store ASAP. The closer you get to the big day, the better your chances of finding empty shelves. Plus, fighting a mad rush in the baked goods aisle is a sure way to squash your Thanksgiving spirit.
    3. Cook the Turkey Ahead of Time: If you cook and carve the turkey ahead of time, you can rest easy on Thursday and spend less time in the kitchen and more time visiting with your family. To make sure the turkey tastes its best, cook it according to the instructions the day before. Carve the turkey and place the pieces in a baking dish(es), then cover with the juice from the roasting pan. Simply reheat the baking dish(es) before meal time. You can separate white and dark meat easily, plus your turkey will soak up all those tasty juices.
    4. Prep for Leftovers: If there is one thing you can count on, it's that there will be leftovers! Clean out your refrigerator ahead of time so you have plenty of room for storing what's left of the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie. Pick up some disposable plastic ware if you'll be sending leftovers home with your visitors.
    5. Try Something New: Thanksgiving meals can sometimes become ho-hum. However, the trick to introducing new dishes at the holidays is to try adding one or two new items without changing up the whole menu. Leave those classic favorites on the table, and no one will feel like you've hijacked the holidays.
    Are you ready for Thanksgiving? What do you do to make hosting the family meal easier and more enjoyable?