I have a confession to make: I think Thanksgiving dinner is just okay. It’s not that I’ve never had good Thanksgiving food, or that I had a scaring experience with my mashed potatoes. There are certainly still parts of my family’s Thanksgiving meal I always look forward to (French silk pie, you have my heart).

Luckily, for those of us who find ourselves torn between keeping with tradition and abandoning cranberry sauce once and for all, there is a solution: incorporate all the elements of classic thanksgiving- the turkey, stuffing, etc.- but revive them in new, creative ways. 

1. Turkey Chili

What it replaces: The turkey.

Perfect for those of us who are daunted by the idea of baking an entire turkey, turkey chili is an easier alternative this is just as hearty. Depending on the recipe, turkey chili can also be filled with beans, peppers, and other vegetables that offer an added boost of protein and vitamins. 

2. Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

What it replaces: The stuffing.

Filled with cheese and garlic, pull apart bread is a fresh take on stuffing that is just as rich. Plus, the bread is sliced into bite-sized pieces, making it easy to share with family. 

3. Rosemary Parmesan Potatoes

What it replaces: The mashed potatoes.

Baked with herbs and cheese, rosemary parmesan potatoes are arguably more elegant than traditional mashed potatoes. Since these potatoes aren’t covered in gravy, they are also a slightly healthier option for those looking to cut down on unnecessary fat.

4. Fried Green Beans

What it replaces: The green bean casserole.

Just as decadent, these fried green beans add an unexpected crunch to Thanksgiving. If green beans aren’t your favorite, you can always swap them out with asparagus as well. 

5. Cranberry Walnut Salad

What it replaces: The cranberry sauce.

If the idea of cranberry mush just doesn’t appeal to you, consider swapping cranberry sauce for a salad filled with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, spinach, and more. Plus, substituting cranberry sauce with a cranberry salad offers the same sweetness with candied walnuts and dried cranberries, but is a lower sugar option with a boost of nutrients from the spinach and other ingredients. 

6. Pumpkin Bars

What it replaces: The pumpkin pie.

Last but not least, the dessert. What’s not to love about the classic taste of pumpkin combined with decadent cream cheese frosting? Pumpkin bars are always a crowd favorite, and most recipes make enough bars to go around for days.

Thanksgiving dinner is near and dear to many, and the foods associated with it have a lot of meaning. However, for those of us that don't equate cranberry sauce and quality family time, there is an answer: switch things up with new recipes, while still incorporating the same old flavors we all love.