A year ago we hosted our first Thanksgiving with nine adults, a toddler, a 6-week-old infant, dog, and cat. It seemed like a good idea initially, since hosting Thanksgiving would spare us from having to travel with two kids and would potentially keep my newborn away from a larger germ-filled crowd. However, not only had we never hosted Thanksgiving before but we had never cooked any Thanksgiving dishes ourselves. Typically when asked to bring food to a Thanksgiving celebration, we stopped at a local farm store and picked out some pies and apple cider. So, in a panic, I did what any party-planner on maternity leave would do…. took to Pinterest. After scrolling through a few hundred photos, I created our menu and started shopping. (See my Thanksgiving Pinterest board here)
Since I do not normally cook much, I knew it would be too ambitious to teach myself to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal while breastfeeding my newborn and chasing my toddler. Even with my husband’s help, logistically, I wasn’t sure where we would put all the pots, pans, or trays! So I decided what items we could handle and then supplemented our menu with prepared side dishes from Whole Foods that could be easily heated up. We shop at Whole Foods frequently, so I knew that I could trust their Thanksgiving dishes to be delicious and healthy for my growing family. Sure enough, our Thanksgiving spread was a hit, both the Whole Foods dishes and the homemade sides, and guests couldn’t tell which was which.
This year, our local Whole Foods invited me to sample their Thanksgiving menu and knowing that we were hosting Thanksgiving again I appreciated the opportunity to taste-test the items I would order. As expected, everything was delicious, but I especially enjoyed the squash soup and butternut sweet potato casserole.
I spent my time at the tasting though thinking about how to best incorporate vegetables into my children’s diet, which is one of the biggest challenges I face whether Thanksgiving or a regular weeknight. I picked the brain of their healthy eating specialist, who not only teaches their employees about wellness but will do cooking demos, tours, and teach schools and local businesses about healthy eating. She gave me ideas like making cauliflower rice, chocolate avocado pudding, and spiralizing zucchini. I also learned that if I order $30 worth of food, Whole Foods will deliver it to me by bike for free (i.e. I don’t have to schlep the kids outside in the 30-degree weather). I am looking forward to trying new ways to add vegetables into their diet.
While last year I was feeling thankful for time with my newborn baby girl and not giving my family food poisoning, this year I am looking forward to watching my kids explore new foods together and challenging myself to broaden our menu. There will be many of the same staples that we count on year after year, but thanks to the creativity of the chefs at Whole Foods, perhaps a few new dishes with a more exciting twist on the traditional fare. Meanwhile in our kitchen, I’ll continue to sharpen my kitchen skills, find places to hide veggies in my kids’ food, and double-check the batteries in our smoke alarms.
What’s on your Thanksgiving table this year?
[Disclaimer: Whole Foods allowed me to sample their Thanksgiving menu for free. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. I have no affiliation with Whole Foods. You too can taste tons of local vendors every Wednesday from 5-7PM at the Whole Foods on South Street]