Insider’s Viewpoint: Thanksgiving Traditions with a Twist

Insider's Viewpoint: Thanksgiving Traditions with a Twist

There is no better place to connect with family and friends than at the Thanksgiving table. But the modern cook can be challenged with balancing fresh ingredients and flavors with heavier holiday throwbacks. Who says you can’t throw a few festive twists into the mix? This year serve more color, texture and nutrition with a new focus on this season’s veggies.

To satisfy almost any crowd, stick to traditional recipes for the turkey, gravy and stuffing, but get creative with the rest. It will be easier for even your pickiest guest to enjoy veggies when they are paired with familiar favorites. Plus the more veggies on the table, the easier it will be to digest rich, creamy, and meat-based dishes.

6 Twists for Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes

Root Veggies Chips
Trade processed crackers and wafers for homemade baked root veggie chips. Thinly slice radish, carrots, turnips, and parsnips into coins using a knife or mandolin. Lay flat on a baking sheet and roast at 375 °F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through until crispy. Serve with dip or soft cheese, or crumble on top of green bean casserole.

Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad
Don’t let these petite cabbages sit on the side alone, transform them into a shredded salad. Shred using the slicing disc in a food processor, knife or grater. Add dried cranberries, walnuts, and soft cheese and mix with Poppy seed dressing before serving.

Pickled Beans
Save calories and cooking time by skipping canned green bean casseroles. Instead, kick up the flavor of this staple dish with crunch and a tangy vinegar punch. Pickle green beans with onion, garlic, vinegar, mustard seed and spices. Simply refrigerate overnight and they are ready to eat. Serve with appetizers, as a side, or at the cocktail buffet.

Sweet Potato Soup
Fall into the warm flavors of the season with a cozy bowl of soup. Fill your guests’ bellies with hearty soup before diving into the main meal. Boil sweet potatoes with your favorite fall fruit, like pears or apples, and purée into a naturally sweet and creamy soup. Try the recipe below for a one-pot Sweet Potato-Pear Soup.

Mashed Leafy Greens
Salad isn’t the only way to enjoy eating more dark leafy greens. Slice raw spinach, kale or Swiss chard and fold into steamy hot potatoes right before mashing. The leaves will wilt with the heat of the potatoes and add a pop of radiant color.

Mushroom Blend
No fancy techniques needed, just chop, blend and cook. Use any type of mushroom variety as a bulking agent in meatballs, pasta sauce, stuffing or rice dishes. This method adds volume, texture and nutrition. Use a food processor or knife to chopped mushrooms into small pieces, similar to ground meat.


Sweet Potato-Pear Soup
Serves 6


  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups ripe pears, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ cup dry vermouth or ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp orange zest, finely grated
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Garnish (optional)

  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 1 package (8 ounces) plain low-fat yogurt
  • Fresh parsley, chopped


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook for about 10 minutes until soften but not browned.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, pears, broth, vermouth, cinnamon stick, orange zest and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 35-45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
  3. Remove cinnamon stick. Purée vegetable mixture until smooth using an immersion blender or in batches using a food processor. Stir in nutmeg and pepper. Cook over medium heat until heated through.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a slice of pear, dollop of yogurt and sprinkle of parsley.


Julie Hersey, MS, RD, LDN
Stop & Shop Nutritionist
New England Division

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