Episode 128: Must-Have Thanksgiving Favorites From The Produce Moms’ Family

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Thanksgiving looks a little different this year for all of us, but one thing remains important: enjoying a delicious meal of Thanksgiving favorites with those you love and finding gratitude for all you have.

This American holiday is such an important one to slow down, reflect on what we can appreciate in life, and the only thing we’re expected to do is gather around a table and enjoy an incredible meal! We’ve brought together twelve of our Produce Moms’ favorite guests, friends, and partners to share with you what exciting, new, and standby recipes you can embrace this holiday. We’ve got recipes from all around the country, spanning from drinks, sides, dessert, palette cleansers, and of course ways to bring your turkey to life. Enjoy some of these Thanksgiving favorites or save them for another upcoming holiday dinner!

Helpful Tips from Monterey Mushrooms

Did you know that mushrooms are one of the fastest-growing categories in the produce industry and just eight ounces will give you your daily recommended requirement of Vitamin D? Brian Jenny, Vice President of Sales for Monterey Mushrooms is passionate about these superfoods which are a delicious, healthy item that can be added to breakfast, lunch or dinner.

If you’re making green bean casserole this year, add an eight-ounce pack of baby bella mushrooms to your fresh green beans for more nutrients and flavor. When it comes to washing, lightly rinse them in a colander for 10-15 seconds or wipe them off with a damp rag. Try not to add any more water to them otherwise they might get soggy.

Popular Dishes from Shenandoah Growers

That’s Tasty is a Shenandoah Growers brand that is a must when purchasing items for your Thanksgiving meal. Without fresh herbs, would your turkey and dishes truly be a successful, delicious delight at the dinner table? Don Helms, Vice President of Marketing at Shenandoah Growers wants everyone to get the absolute most flavor of their food around the holidays. They call this time the “EKG chart” because of the 400% increase in demand they see around the holidays.

What are the staples Don says you need for your Thanksgiving favorites? Basil, sage, rosemary and thyme! One of That’s Tasty’s most popular recipes year after year is their turkey brine recipe. “The best way to do that is put all the flavor you can into it because it’s such a blank canvas and it will absorb a lot of flavor,” says Don.

Their recipe is extremely easy and by allowing your turkey to marinate in the juices, the meat of the turkey will absorb those incredible flavors. His recipe includes salt, peppercorns, brown sugar, and That’s Tasty garlic puree, organic bay leaves, fresh thyme, fresh sage and fresh rosemary leaves. Add some citrus to bring a tremendous amount of acid and make those flavors pop!

Thanksgiving Favorites from Wada Farms

If you think you’re a fan of potatoes, you surely need to meet Eric Beck aka “Spud Love”. The Director of Marketing at Wada Farms in Idaho has earned this reputation around the industry and rightfully so. When asked about what type of potato to use in Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, he could’ve gone on for hours!

Eric suggests using a russet potato (which there are hundreds of different varieties of) if you want light and fluffy mashed potatoes. If you want a rich and creamy consistency, use a yellow or red potato.

What’s Eric’s favorite way to enjoy mashed potatoes? His mother-in-law makes an incredible dish where she adds butter, sour cream, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and chives and mixes them altogether, rather than adding as a topping. Eric’s also impressed with the amount of culinary, artistic creativity happening with potatoes and the power of social media, which is allowing people to share and find new, interesting ways to prepare them.

Thanksgiving is Kim Flores, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Pro Citrus Network, absolute favorite holiday, hands down. Why? Kim loves the meaning of Thanksgiving, which is to share gratitude, spend time with family, and of course enjoy the food. It’s a time when, no matter what, we get to reconnect with those that mean the most to us in life and enjoy the spirit of gratitude with those you love around you.

What’s Thanksgiving favorites are on Kim’s table? Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, and green bean casserole all are a must! Her three favorite dishes are her mom’s sweet potato souffle made with fresh sweet potatoes and marshmallows on top, fresh cranberry pear crisp made with fresh pears, cranberries, and oats on top, and her family’s favorite, pumpkin roll.

Kim reminds us that citrus is such a versatile thing to incorporate in any meal. For example, one time her family cut oranges in half and put sweet potato souffle in the orange skin ‘bowl’. You can add oranges to cranberry relish, sangria, any cocktail or punch for Thanksgiving too!

Thanksgiving Favorites from Cece's Veggie Company

That makes two votes for delicata squash fries at the Thanksgiving table with Mason Arnold! Mason is the founder of Cece’s Veggie Company, who makes the organic vegetable noodles, riced vegetables and veggie-based meal kits you’ve come to know and love.

Before starting Cece’s, Mason used to run a grocery delivery company that partnered with local farmers in central Texas to slaughter fresh turkeys the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and deliver them to families the day before, giving them fresh, Heritage breed, never frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving. How delicious is that!?

Although Mason’s mom loves cooking big, major meals, Mason contributes his healthy treats to the Thanksgiving dinner table too. Last year he brought delicata squash fries and they’ve become a major hit! Mason loves the delicious nutty flavor of delicatas and the texture they have when you roast them with the skin on, creating a crispy, crunchy outside.

“Everywhere I brought it, it got cleaned out way before the sweet potato dishes did,” Mason says. Try bringing the sweet potatoes some competition this year with delicata fries on your Thanksgiving table!

Unique Treats from Fielding Hills Winery

Megan Mitchell is the Brand and Business Manager at Fielding Hills Winery, a winery that originally served as a red delicious apple orchard, until 2000 when the market for red delicious started to go downhill. That’s when the orchard turned into a winery, planting 24 acres (now 30) of red wine grapes in the Columbia basin in Washington.

Megan suggests starting your Thanksgiving meal off with a bottle of white (she recommends their Roussan, aka “the red wine drinker’s white”) and then moving into a bottle of red as dinner goes on. Her winery’s bold, fruit-forward Cab Sauv is the family’s go-to.

You’d think good wines would be Megan’s favorite Thanksgiving favorites (who wouldn’t!), but instead, it’s her great grandmother’s recipe called cranberry ice. They use it as a palette cleanser between bites of turkey or after you’ve finished dinner and are waiting for dessert. You can make the cranberry ice yourself with cranberries, ginger ale, a fair amount of sugar, and ice to make the consistency of a sorbet.

“Everyone has the cranberry ice, it’s a core expectation,” Megan says. “We’ve even made it for people who are friends or family members, but aren’t in town, and send it to them!”

“Everyone loves celery in their stuffing.”

You’ll probably enjoy at least one of the fresh, delicious vegetables that Duda Farms grows on Thanksgiving. Duda’s the exceptional grower behind Dandy Brand’s celery, cauliflower, sweet corn, radishes, and many other fresh produce items. Speaking of celery, we asked Nicholl why celery has those strings we love to hate in them and her response was so eloquent that you’ll certainly have more respect for how this plant provides your body with nutrition!

The strings in celery are “like veins in your body. That’s how nature feeds the plant and the veins are needed to feed itself or hydrate itself. If we took them out completely, we wouldn’t have a plant,” shares Nicholl.

As much as Dandy is known for their celery (and who doesn’t love celery in their stuffing), Nicholl’s family is famous for enjoying her husband Ralph’s cream style sweet corn at Thanksgiving. Ralph, a Florida native, brings a little of his southern style cooking to their family in California. It’s one of the Thanksgiving dishes that goes fast and everyone loves.

Stefani Sassos' Thanksgiving Favorites

We knew Stefani Sassos, RN and nutritionist with Good Housekeeping Institute would have a healthy, delicious favorite for Thanksgiving. Stefani has been obsessed with delicata squash because it’s easier to cut than a butternut squash or other squashes for prep, and you can eat the skin of it, which is chock full of nutrients.

How does Stefani prepare her delicata squash for Thanksgiving (or any other family meal)? She chops it in half (length-wise) and scoops out the seeds to make little half moons. Next, Stefani adds a little olive oil, salt and pepper and has a trick if you have children. To get the squash to absorb wonderful flavors like rosemary and thyme without having little specks on the squash that can often be a “deal breaker” for kids, she’ll just add a sprig of rosemary and thyme on the baking sheet instead. The flavors will naturally infuse into the squash and roasting brings out such a beautiful flavor.

Plus, it’s a low calorie option that looks gorgeous alongside your Thanksgiving table spread!

Thanksgiving Favorites from S. Katzman Produce

Stefanie Katzman of S. Katzman Produce is part of the fourth generation in the family-owned, New York City wholesale distributor. This is one of the busiest times of year for Stefanie and the rest of the team and it’s important to note the role her company plays in delivering our Thanksgiving feast. “Everything that hits your Thanksgiving table is going to come through our market,” Stefanie reminds us.

She also loves Thanksgiving, which is the one guaranteed holiday her entire family celebrates together. Her Thanksgiving favorites? It’s between the sweet potato casserole, which her family makes with pineapple, mandarin and maple syrup. An interesting twist on the timeless classic, the secret to the Katzman sweet potato casserole is adding marshmallows on top and sticking it back underneath the broiler to get that gooey, s’mores-like consistency.

Her family also makes two noodle kugels each year, one for dinner with spinach and one around dessert time with cheese, milk, cream, brown sugar and bread crumbs on top.

Italian Thanksgiving Favorites from Wink Sprout

Listening to Tiffany’s accent you might wonder what she’s doing on a podcast about Thanksgiving! Well, this Scottish-born, UK-raised, US transplant has happily taken on our American tradition of celebrating family and food. Tiffany recalls growing up in London where they “would only ever see Thanksgiving on Home Alone or American movies and wonder, ‘why do they have two Christmas dinners!?’”.

Now that she lives here, she truly understands what Thanksgiving is all about and enjoys the night before where you think about what you’re going to eat the next day (and sneak double servings of).

Tiffany isn’t a turkey fan, so she always roasts a chicken to go alongside American Thanksgiving favorites like sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole. Tiffany is a huge proponent of eating healthy, just like we are at The Produce Moms, and she suggests something she learned from the Italians when working as a model and actress in Italy. They always eat a small, green salad before starting every meal! Tiffany suggests starting your dinner off this way because the fiber will help you get fuller fast and will aid in digesting the delicious carbs and sugary treats we love on Thanksgiving Day.

Creative Ideas from National Mango Board

You might be thinking, mangos and Thanksgiving don’t mix, but did you know mangos are the most popular produce item in the world? Tricia Bramley, the Director of Marketing and Communications at the National Mango Board is working hard to help the US understand just how delicious and versatile mangos truly are!

Tricia loves to make the traditional foods her family has always enjoyed eating around Thanksgiving, and her family’s tradition starts with a turkey noodle soup made by grandma for breakfast. Her mom’s stuffing is legendary and a must-have on her Thanksgiving table, but Tricia loves to add dishes that are unique and different to the traditional spread, too.

This year Tricia and the National Mango Board put together a stuffing made with mango and jalapeno that adds a touch of sweet, a dash of spice and an unexpected spin on a Thanksgiving favorite.

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week! Be sure to share what your Thanksgiving favorites are.
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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