The many sides of Thanksgiving

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Year after year, it seems the Thanksgiving banquet menu can be predicted down to the last garnish. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are all beloved yet expected additions to a holiday feast.

Who says that your Thanksgiving dinner must be an exact copy of everyone else’s? There is no reason for this annual feast to follow a strict menu.

There are countless ways to mix up the menu and add some pizzazz to a traditional holiday dinner. As much as Aunt Ruth’s famous mincemeat pie has become an established Thanksgiving staple, everyone will probably welcome a little modification to this year’s menu.

7 Scrumptious Swaps

Chicken, fish and duck, oh my!
Just because it has earned the title “Turkey Day” does not mean that an actual turkey is required for a successful celebration. Some historians say that the first Thanksgiving feast probably included duck and venison, in addition to turkey. If the pilgrims had options, there is no reason for you not meatless variations, such as a tofurkey loaf, are all excellent choices for a main dish.

Bread Winners
Dinner rolls are eaten for any oc- casion. There are many alternatives to the ordinary bread roll. Fresh-baked corn bread or warm bread pudding are two unique alternatives.

Sweet Potato Pie
Pumpkin pie better watch out, because the new craze in holiday treats is sweet potato pie. These two pies contain most of the same ingredients and are prepared in a similar manner. However, the differences between the two vegetables cause sweet potato pie to have a slightly different texture and flavor than pumpkin pie. Consider putting a new twist on a traditional dessert by creating a sweet potato pie flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or vanilla.

Cranberry Apple Sauce
Although it may be the easiest Thanksgiving side dish to prepare, there is nothing extraordinary about canned cranberry sauce. Consider giving cranberries a new appeal by whipping up a cranberry applesauce. This easy side includes boiling apples, cranberries, cinnamon, sugar and ginger in a saucepan.

Harvest Greens
Walnuts, apples and other seasonal produce are perfect toppings for a fresh autumn salad. Topped with an apple or raspberry vinaigrette, this crisp dish is a nutritious alternative to heartier potato, bean or pasta salads.

Mock Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a popular side dish at most holiday meals. Trick your taste buds and cook up a healthier alternative to this butter-laden holiday favorite. Mash steamed cauliflower, white beans and olive oil. Add skim milk and light sour cream for a creamy consistency, and flavor with garlic, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread
As if there is not an abundance of food already, appetizers add a special touch to a bountiful feast. Make your own festive spread from cream cheese, canned pumpkin, sugar and vanilla. This treat can be eaten on rolls or crackers.

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