Thanksgiving with a Twist

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Posted by Joe Butler on Nov. 8, 2018, midnight

Is your traditional turkey losing its yum-yum and becoming more ho-hum? Then maybe it’s the perfect time to try something new.

Perhaps the kids have grown up and moved away, or your usual friends, family, neighbors or past houseguests who love the whole extravaganza have other plans this fall.

Or perhaps you or some of your guests have dietary sensitivities, allergies or special food requests. And, we promise not to tell a soul, but maybe you’re sick of turkey all together.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s not hard – and maybe even enjoyable – to tweak the traditional Thanksgiving menu, whether it’s minor substitutes or major renovations.

People eating vegetarian food

Enjoy not going by the book! After all, historical records show that the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 was said to include clams, ham and venison, none of which have made the cut for today’s Turkey Day menus.

Make it meatless. Since some veggies are already part of the traditional menu, diners may not mind – or even notice – if they play more prominent of a role.

Think about doing more with squash, pumpkin or sweet potato, like perhaps making a tasty risotto or baking a casserole with great flavors.

If you have a few people at the table who want a meat-like texture, Tofurky has been providing a meat-free Holiday Roast since 1995. You can also use their plant-based products to make hearty pot pies, frittatas or soups (

 Gluten be gone. Avoiding gluten can be tricky with traditional Thanksgiving trimmings, but there are alternatives. Try a crustless pumpkin pie with an oat-based crumble topping, or make a stuffing that uses rice instead of bread. Wheat-based gravies can be replaced with brown sugar glazes or herbal broths.

Some turkey brands, Foster Farms and Jennie-O for example, even offer turkey that is certified gluten-free, so you can enjoy the main event without worrying about allergies.

Assortment of desserts

Have dessert first. If you think of Thanksgiving Day as just a precursor to Black Friday shopping, you might not be motivated to make the full feast. But you still want to acknowledge the holiday in some way, and what better way than by dessert!

Enjoy a sampling of pies and desserts that showcase the best of the harvest seasons: pumpkins, apples and cranberries. Chocolate comes from a seed, right?

Skip the cooking – and the dishes. Many restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving, but others pull out all the stops to put on memorable feasts, such as the Davenport Hotel. Its holiday brunch is about $64 per person, and it’s an elegant alternative to a stressful day in a messy kitchen. MAX at Mirabeau also hosts a traditional Thanksgiving dinner buffet in Spokane Valley.

Cook for others. Brighten someone else’s day by cooking or helping out at a local charity or church. For instance, the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane has been hosting a city-wide dinner for years. 

Be sure to call ahead to a venue you’re considering to find out the volunteer needs and guidelines. Some traditional meal spots have cut back or even canceled their meals over the years, and some may require training/orientation for actual servers, although everyone can find use for an extra pair of hands. 

If an organization has reached capacity for volunteers, they will likely still welcome donations or volunteer assistance at other times of the year.