Thanksgiving 2020: A Colorful Menu to Brighten Your Year

Thanksgiving 2020: A Colorful Menu to Brighten Your Year

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The month of November usually kicks off the winter holiday season full of lots of cooking and togetherness. Thanksgiving is traditionally a big celebration: lots of people, lots of food, and lots of sharing. But let’s be honest, Thanksgiving 2020 will probably look different this year. COVID-19 naturally shrunk the size of most of our gatherings, the amount of travel occurring, and probably the amount of food we’ll be preparing and sharing. 

With less traditional gatherings this year, should we forego holiday communications, recipes, and culinary skills? Absolutely not! In fact, Thanksgiving 2020 might be the most important Thanksgiving to celebrate. And if you’re having trouble being thankful for something, simply celebrate that we’re one month closer to the end of this upside down and backwards year!

At To Taste, our goal is to teach people how to cook good food. Over many To Taste Zoom calls, we asked, “what will Thanksgiving 2020 look like?” Regardless of the size of the gathering or the amount of food being prepared, To Taste recognizes the need to share a colorful and flavorful meal with the people you love. 

Let’s dive right in to To Taste’s Thanksgiving 2020 Menu.

Lots of Colorful Food

Regardless of our audience, we always encourage people to add more color to their plates! Now, let’s get real; we won’t spend the next 500 words discussing the nutritional value of each recipe (but if you’re still interested in the nutrition information, you can read it in the recipe article). Beyond health implications, color is still important. We eat with our eyes first, so a colorful dish will naturally be more appealing to our eyes and our taste buds! 

Prepare Breakfast Ahead of Time

“I don’t want to spend my entire holiday break cooking and cleaning in the kitchen.” We hear this sentiment a lot. If this rings true for you, try making breakfast a day or two in advance. Baked oatmeal cups and overnight oats are easy to prepare and store ahead of time. Both options are a light, hassle-free option for Thanksgiving morning. If you have teenagers or late sleepers, prepare a batch of energy bites. Once made, these bites require no dishes. This mess-free option is great for a small snack or a more filling portion depending on your family’s meal schedule.

banana baked oatmeal cups
Baked Oatmeal Cups

Golden Bites and Dips

2020 has been quite the adventure. We’ve traveled a long way. With that said, the end of 2020 should have a pot of gold. Our Thanksgiving 2020 menu kicks off with two golden appetizers: turmeric hummus and roasted chickpeas

turmeric hummus with chickpeas and ground turmeric
Turmeric Hummus
roasted chickpeas base recipe with can of garbanzo beans
Roasted Chickpeas

Turkey Time

Are you tired of dry turkey? Brining and aromatics are two of the most important factors for moist, flavorful turkey. Brining results in a juicier and more flavorful meat because it absorbs the extra liquid and salt. Start with a natural turkey that does not have a sodium solution. Then brine your turkey, add aromatic vegetables, and roast upside down. Try Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey; the brining and aromatic vegetables in this recipe will fill your turkey with moisture and deep flavor. 

One more tip: Start with high heat to sear the meat, then reduce the temperature to 350ºF to continue cooking. 

And All That Jazz

What’s all that jazz? The sides, of course! Anyone else think that the sides are the real heros of Thanksgiving?!

We’ve created a combination of sides that are packed with color and flavor. While we don’t necessarily focus on nutrition during the holidays, these side dishes give lighter options for those not looking for a post-Thanksgiving dinner nap. 

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad screams fall – apple cider vinegar, butternut squash, cranberries, pecans, and apples provide great texture, flavor, and color. This grain salad is a great stuffing substitute for non-stuffing fans, but it will surely appease stuffing fans too! This quinoa is a hearty vegetarian option too. Watch how to make perfect, fluffy quinoa and a delicious vinaigrette

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

This roasted sweet potato & banana casserole is a great alternative to traditional sweet potato marshmallow bakes. The roasted bananas add sweetness without adding sugar. Never roasted bananas before? Check out this short video to learn how! This is also a great recipe to make with kids – they love mashing and mixing!

roasted sweet potato and banana casserole with pecans and granola topping
Roasted Sweet Potato and Banana Casserole

Thanksgiving would not be complete without green beans and cranberry sauce. Garlic parmesan green beans are easy to prepare and don’t require any oven space – a much-needed relief for the Thanksgiving head chef! The addition of parmesan and almonds provides great flavor and texture. Be sure to include the lemon juice or an equivalent acid. If you don’t have lemon juice, no need to rush to the store (especially if you’re trying to reduce the number of trips to the store during these strange times). Simply use apple cider vinegar instead. 

garlic parmesan green beans with almonds
Garlic Parmesan Green Beans

It’s 2020. It’s time to retire canned cranberry sauce. While your stovetop and oven are hard at work, make this fail-proof Instant Pot cranberry sauce. Just dump, mix, and cook! It’s as easy as that. Fresh cranberries are naturally tart, so this recipe does have lots of added sugar (as most cranberry sauce recipes do). Make sure you measure your brown sugar properly for the perfect amount of sweetness. In spite of the added sugar, this cranberry sauce does contain lots of great colors and nutrients! Cranberries, cherries, and ginger are all rich in phytochemicals that help prevent cancer and inflammation. So opt for fresh this year; we promise you cranberry sauce success! 

instant pot cranberry sauce with cherries, ginger, and orange
Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce with Cherries and Ginger

The Best for Last

We love pie at To Taste, but making pie crust is for the birds! Many store-bought pie crusts are difficult to find this time of year, and evenso, they are often full of unnecessary ingredients and flavors. So instead of pie, make a frozen berry crisp with whipped cream for dessert! Don’t worry about finding fresh berries in November or waiting for your frozen berries to thaw. At the end of cooking, make sure that the berries are bubbling; this ensures that the cornstarch and brown sugar thicken and sweeten perfectly. And whipped cream is non-negotiable. 

frozen berry crisp with vanilla ice cream
Frozen Berry Crisp

Sharing is Caring

Finally, just because we can’t all be under the same roof this year doesn’t mean that we can’t share food together. Make a few batches of these dark chocolate fruit bites with your kids or family members. Package them up and deliver to friends!

three dark chocolate covered raisin bites with dark chocolate chunks
Dark Chocolate Covered Fruit Bites

And if you and your family are still planning to purchase a pre-made Thanksgiving meal from a grocery store or restaurant, we encourage you to support local this year! (And if this is you, kudos for reading all the way through this article anyway!)

Thank YOU!

“Color your plate” traditionally means adding a variety of nourishing foods from different food groups to provide the most nutrition. Coloring your plate for Thanksgiving 2020 is not just about making and eating colorful food – it’s also about finding color in your life. Color comes from moments spent together, mastery of new culinary skills, bright kitchens full of delicious smells, and warmth of community. Use our Thanksgiving menu for culinary guidance and recipe inspiration, then share this new knowledge with friends and family at your Thanksgiving table!

We are so thankful for every one of you!  We LOVE what we do, and we could not do it without you! Chef V said it best: “When I teach, I forget about everything going on in the world.” 

So cheers to cherishing the joys in life – in the kitchen, at the table, and with each other.

To Your Taste,

Chef Lindsey

Lindsey Schoenfeld, RDN

Lindsey Schoenfeld, RDN

Lindsey has a BS in Nutritional Science from Texas A&M University and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Chef. In an effort to marry her nutrition education with her love for the culinary arts, she pursued a Certificate of Culinary Arts from the Culinary School of Fort Worth.

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. If you click on those links and make a purchase, we will earn a small percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you. 

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