There are certain side dishes that Thanksgiving guests will eat even if they're not too fond of them just because it's Thanksgiving.  Most of them are green.

It could be that a Thanksgiving guest doesn't want to hurt the host's feelings, or it could be that the holiday spirit grabs hold and forces an impulsive craving that convinces us it's a good idea.  No matter what causes it, Thanksgiving guests are eating piles of sides that they don't really want and paying the price later.

As a host, do you make the same side dishes every year?  I usually do.  It becomes a habit, and Thanksgiving doesn't feel like Thanksgiving unless the green bean casserole with fried onions is sitting next to the turkey.  (We melt Colby jack cheese on top of ours to make it extra gooey.)  Apparently, guests aren't quite as fond of it as we think.

Brussel Sprouts

Cranberry Sauce

Green Bean Casserole

Vegetable Casserole

Sweet Potatoes/Yams

It probably depends on how you make it.  Brussel sprouts aren't too fabulous all by themselves, but if they're roasted until they're crispy, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and topped with feta cheese can bacon bits, they're a big hit.  And it probably wouldn't kill us to eat a baked sweet potato instead of the whipped kind with marshmallows on top.  That's dessert dressed up as a vegetable.

We'll eat these things because it's Thanksgiving, but not everyone looks forward to the typical sides.  83% of people say the Thanksgiving holiday is equally if not more important this year than last, and we want to make it extra special because 2020 has been a lot.  Keep the wine, but skip the yams perhaps.

At my house, comfort will come in the form of a can of jellied cranberry sauce because it always appeared at my Grandma Dorothy's dinners when I was a kid and the sound of that suction releasing a perfect cylinder of compressed fruit brings back happy memories.  We can't not have it.  Nostalgia does play a role, according to a survey.  Thirty-four percent said they'll purchase products because it reminds them of childhood.

The average calorie intake at Thanksgiving dinner is about 3000, and sides count for at least half of the onslaught.  It's the creams, the sauces, and the cheeses that make dishes calorie-dense, and that contributes to the food coma that carries into Friday. If we leave the usual casseroles off of the buffet table we might feel better the next day and guests might be happier. 

But will we?  We need comfort and tradition right now, and the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top seems like a decent coping mechanism.  And it provides carbs for shopping.  There are tradeoffs.  

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