Since November is upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday most highly anticipated by food lovers: Thanksgiving. In the midst of hardcore menu planning, we must also prepare ourselves for the infamous food coma (which definitely makes sense when considering the ridiculous amount of calories we consume on turkey day).
Oddly enough, I never thought Thanksgiving was too exciting when I was growing up. While everyone else passed out on the couch to watch football, I attempted to ignore my grumbling stomach. To be honest, the food just never did it for me.
Confession: I can’t stand mushy food. Or anything covered in gravy. So, obviously, Thanksgiving and I aren’t the best match. I’d stare down at my plate in dismay, wishing I could trade my dry turkey, gritty mashed potatoes, and soggy green beans for any kind of Italian food whatsoever.
Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older and learned how to cook for myself (shoutout to my wonderful mother for teaching me), I’ve compiled a bunch of replacements for the mushy, gravy-swamped Thanksgiving classics. Now, I actually look forward to Thanksgiving. But really though, I’m counting down.
Here are five dreaded standards, along with some awesome recipes (from our very own Spoon U foodies) you can use to replace them:
Butternut Squash Soup
To me, creamy soups are essentially glorified baby food. Unless there’s some kind of chunky vegetable thrown in, soup rarely makes it onto my menu.
If you’re in the same boat, take heart, because butternut squash mac ‘n cheese is the answer to your appetizer dilemma. It’s rich and cheesy with a crispy breadcrumb topping, and it still packs in all of the warm fall flavors you love.
Green Bean Casserole
There are so many things wrong with green bean casserole. Let’s start with the cream of mushroom soup that gives it the goopy consistency I can’t even think about without gagging a little.
Instead, try these pumpkin spice Brussels sprouts with maple Dijon glaze. Topped with pecans and cranberries, they have the crunch you crave without those awful fried onions.
I truly do not understand stuffing. Like, what is it exactly? All it ever appeared to be was a pile of bland, crumbly stuff that people dumped on their turkey.
Ditch the mystery dish altogether and get your carb load from these flaky, buttery 7-ingredient biscuit muffins. Trust me, you won’t miss your old boxed stuffing with one (or a few — no judgment here) of these on your plate.
Sweet Potato Casserole
There’s nothing more unappealing than a dish that’s both mushy and cloyingly sweet. Unfortunately, sweet potato casserole fits the bill. This marshmallow-topped disaster has been defaming the good name of sweet potatoes for as long as I can remember.
Switch it up with these brown sugar roasted sweet potatoes. With just the right balance of sweet and savory, they give you no reason to miss those nasty marshmallows.
Oh, mashed potatoes, I always wanted to love you. But when something looks like a blob and tastes practically pre-chewed, it’s just not going to work out.
That’s where these parsnip potato latkes with horseradish cream come in. They provide a nice bite — in both texture and flavor — and incorporate the most underrated root vegetable of all time: the parsnip. Plus, how can you go wrong with fried potato cakes? No gravy necessary.