Putting the “Giving” Back Into Thanksgiving

I am so excited about Thanksgiving this year, and all of the love, joy and peace the holiday brings. I feel so fortunate this year to have the incredible opportunity to work with Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms. They recently asked me to write this first newsletter for November, and it really took some inner thought. Putting this together has really put Thanksgiving in perspective for me. Hopefully, you can find some inspiration here for your holiday, as well.

Thanksgiving is a time for you and your family to share and enjoy wonderful memories. It’s also a time to think about others as well. Why not spend this year giving back to your community, yourself and your loved ones? For the past six years, I have hosted Thanksgiving at my house with my two sisters, one brother and their families as well as my parents and relatives. Honestly, it was a little scary and intimidating the first time, but when the entire family arrived, everything just flowed. Sometimes, I do get stressed out, but this year I am going to channel all of my energy on “giving back” to my community, my family and to myself.

I know we have all heard it before, but Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks. Despite how tough life can get, there are many people who are facing tougher times. Why not make a point to make someone else feel good by reaching out to them? Believe it or not, this will make you feel incredible and energize you as well. For the past few years, I have tried to make a point to do something charitable with my three kids to teach them the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I know many families who do this, and these types of activities have become a way to build family memories and traditions. Here are some examples and ideas that my family, friends and relatives do on Thanksgiving. These are not only meaningful, but they are also fun and enjoyable for the kids.

WAYS TO GIVE BACK

Here are some activities that are good ways to help others, and they also help you think about the meaning of the holidays. Maybe this will spark some ideas of your own. We would love to hear back about what your friends and family likes to do.

  1. Thanksgiving walk/run/race for Charity – Many cities have these and incorporate a 1-mile fun run for the kids. Our run is called the “Turkey Trot”, and it benefits cancer.

  2. Feeding the Homeless – One of my friends does this every year with her kids. Her dad took her when she was young, and this tradition has continued. Some friends also go to major baseball stadiums to feed the homeless people nearby.

  3. Help Feed America – One thing for certain every year in our house for Thanksgiving is a turkey. But this year, I learned that we can actually help a good cause by buying Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms turkey brand. Their company has partnered with Feeding America to help feed one million people and our purchase supports their company’s contribution of $250,000. You can learn more about how to personally take action here.

  4. Visiting Children’s Hospital – My sister visits the intensive care units and brings food to nurses every year (since she had a premature child of her own). Her kids go along with her and decorate cookies with the older children who are hospitalized on Thanksgiving.

  5. Holiday Gift-Wrapping – Every year, my kids and I go to the mall and volunteer to gift-wrap presents for a charity. The kids really enjoy this, (especially my daughter, who loves to make the bows), and they love seeing the gifts people buy.

  6. Bringing Police/Firemen Thanksgiving Meals – Some friends visit police and fire stations and bring them food. These men help us year-round, and this is a great way to show our appreciation.

  7. Visiting Retirement Homes – This is a great way to visit people who are lonely. I know some local teens that visit, sings songs and play card games at a local home. Many of these people no longer have families, and these activities really make Thanksgiving special for them.

  8. Humane Society/Animal Shelter Work – Some animal lover friends volunteer at animal shelters on Thanksgiving and make special donations to these shelters.

  9. Go Green on Thanksgiving – Be extra aware about recycling this year by using traditional silverware and dishware rather than paper goods, etc.

  10. Leftover Donations – Make turkey sandwiches with your leftovers and bring to homeless shelters or facilities taking food donations.

See my debut newsletters at http://www.honeysucklewhite.com/alisonlewis/ and http://www.shadybrookfarms.com/alisonlewis/

Low-Fat Appetizer: Smoked Salmon Roll-Ups

I’ve had a lot of friends and readers asking me, “What appetizers are you making for Thanksgiving or holiday parties this year?” These Smoked Salmon Rolls are one of my favorite recipes. They are only 4 ingredients, and they’re completely simple to prepare. My kids love smoked salmon, so it’s also true crowd pleaser. What I also love about them is that you can make them them up to 8 hours ahead of time, and they make a great brunch recipe as well.

Kids Friendly Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies

My kids are so excited about Thanksgiving this year, and our guest list is growing everyday. I thought I would share a fun cooking activity that the kids love: this Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies recipe. This recipe comes from Pillsbury, and you start with their refrigerated sugar cookie dough. It’s so easy, and your children will have a blast making these. These are also great to take to school to the teachers or share with the class, and they are always a big hit!

Lightened Up Green Bean Casserole

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I made this on Thanksgiving, and it was quite the hit. Fresh green beans, shallots and panko breadcrumbs take ordinary Green Bean Casserole to a new level. It’s perfect for Christmas and anytime of the year. No one will believe it’s so low in fat.

Thanksgiving Tradition: Homemade Yeast Rolls Made Light

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My sister, Julie, has created the Thanksgiving tradition to make Homemade Yeast Rolls with my daughter, Leigh. It’s so warm and comforting to serve homemade rolls on Thanksgiving. This recipe is incredible, and with only 92 calories per roll and  1 gram of fat, what can I say? Oh, how about the fact that they are also really easy! They are made with egg substitute and skim milk, and are so delicious. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Family Favorite: Lightened Up Sweet Potato Casserole

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My sister, Julie, makes Sweet Potato Casserole every year on Thanksgiving. She usually has to make two because everyone loves it so much. I lightened her recipe a bit, decreasing the butter, using low-fat sweetened condensed milk, using whole wheat flour and using egg whites. It still tastes great and is a classic Thanksgiving side dish. You won’t miss some of the extra fat.

Healthy Thanksgiving or Christmas Side Dish: Marinated Broccoli and Cauliflower

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Yesterday I was a presenter in Wetumpka, Alabama at “Gathering at the River”, a Cookbook Fair and Tasting. This was a fundraiser for Trinity Episcopal Church. I had a great time and met some fabulous, sweet people who loved my book, recipes and Ingredients, Inc. t-shirts. We talked a lot about Thanksgiving, and a few asked me for some low-fat, healthy Thanksgiving and Christmas side dish ideas. This recipe for Marinated Broccoli and Cauliflower is a great one and is so easy to prepare. Thanks to everyone who attended! Hope you like this recipe.

Holiday or Anytime 15 Minute Appetizer: Cheddar-Maple and Pecan Log

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Today, I am in Madison Wisconsin for a Wisconsin Cheese Media tour. I get to tour about 8 different cheesemakers around the area while tasting fabulous cheeses, attending a Fondue lunch as well as an award winning Cheese and Beer Pairing reception. I thought I would feature a simple cheese appetizer that my family loves in honor of the amazing Wisconsin Cheese. It’s so easy and wonderful for this time of year or as the holidays near (Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas), and my kids love it!

Also, I will also be featured on NBC 13 Daytime Alabama at 11:30 a.m on Thursday cooking a simple Slider recipes so check it out. I know-busy week.