In My Kitchen: Getting Started for Thanksgiving

Here’s how I've started planning for Thanksgiving -- plus, some healthy recipes I'm testing out and adding to my menu.
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Thanksgiving is my turn to have over the whole family. This year, everyone thinks I’m crazy because I'm having our first baby in a few days, but nothing gives me more joy than planning and preparing this big meal. Here’s how I've started planning -- plus, some recipes I'm using -- for this fabulous food holiday.

Thanksgiving a la White

My main goal for dinner: Make a delicious, seasonal and local meal. To do that, I get as many ingredients as possible from local purveyors and my area farmers' market. Sticking to those parameters actually helps narrow down my menu options (but not in a bad way!).

When it comes to the calorie counts, I may be a dietitian, but I’m all about give and take for Thanksgiving. My husband (and his brothers) would boycott dinner if they had to go without their grandma’s sausage stuffing and few other high-calorie faves. All of my offerings may not exactly be Healthy Eats approved on the calorie scale, but I try to balance things out by making smaller portions of the higher-calorie stuff (for example, those mini corn muffins above) and offer up a mix of lighter options.

When hosting, it’s also important to spread the love -- I don't need to prepare everything myself. My family loves to cook, so I always let them bring a few things.

First Steps for Getting Prepared

When planning out a menu, my best method is to start collecting recipes months in advance and test a few ahead of time. It may seem a little excessive, but it really helps take the pressure off when turkey day comes around -- plus, my husband and I get to sample some classic holiday flavors early. I keep a folder in my kitchen and whenever I come across an intriguing recipe from a TV show, website or magazine, I toss it in. In October, I start to dig through them to see which ones I want to try.

I'm always on the look out for good cornbread and cranberry sauce recipes. I’m not a fan of salty boxed cornbread mixes, and while can-shaped giggly cranberry sauces are nostalgic, they’re loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. The real thing tastes so much better!

    Here are some recipes I’ve been test-driving so far:

Those are the parsnips above -- aren't they mouthwatering? I slashed the amount of butter in the recipe, and they turned out fabulous. I’m still on the lookout for a corn muffin recipe (those mini ones were a little dry for my taste). I might give this Sour Cream and Lemon Honey Corn Muffin recipe a try next.

    Next on the testing list:

Check back next Friday for another update on my Thanksgiving planning. Next up: finalizing the menu.

TELL US: Do you plan ahead? What are your tricks for getting prepared?
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