Food

Shake Up Your Easter Traditions

Four ways to try something new this holiday.

When it comes to planning the menu for big holiday dinners the choices made are often steeped in tradition. Questioning classic family dishes and shaking up some of the more mundane recipes can be a cathartic experience. For example, have you ever wondered if that beloved family recipe for mashed turnips is actually delicious (or if you’re just making it because it’s been a holiday staple for the last 50 years?) Would anyone be truly offended if this recipe was reshaped or even shelved this year? If your traditional holiday dinner feels a little stale, consider this a guide to bucking holiday tradition and forging some new ones of your own.

 

Make healthy swaps in older recipes

 

If the thought of creating an entirely new menu for your holiday dinner sounds overwhelming or downright disrespectful to certain family members remember that you can make the shift slowly. Are mashed potatoes a way too familiar side dish every year? Try using yams, sweet potatoes or even cauliflower as a substitution for the potatoes (or use a mixture of both.) Is there an expectation that a mayonnaise-laden Waldorf salad will be served? Substitute most of the mayo with fat free plain Greek yogurt, no one will know the difference and you’ll still be able to enjoy the salad without anyone being the wiser.

 

Switch up the protein

 

Although ham and turkey are traditionally the main event at many holiday meals, there aren’t any rules that say you have to serve them at yours. If you come from a family that loves fish and seafood, consider serving a whole fish (which always looks impressive) alongside an elegant homemade seafood tower featuring oysters, mussels, and crab legs on crushed ice. Buy an entire beef tenderloin from your local butcher counter and roast until medium-rare or medium (since beef tenderloin is a lean cut of meat it’s inadvisable to cook the meat past medium doneness.) Serve beef tenderloin very thinly sliced with horseradish, spring baby greens and fresh rolls for a fresh take on traditional roast beef.

 

Try a plant-based approach to holiday meals

 

Planning an entire holiday meal around plant-based ingredients may sound like a daunting process, especially if your family appreciates a more traditional approach to holiday meals. If this is a new concept for you it’s okay to start small; switch a couple of meat-containing dishes out for plant-based options. This might be as simple as serving stuffing on the side that has been prepared using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock or omitting the crumbled bacon in a salad or dip. Marinated baked tofu, sauteed tempeh, chickpeas, lentils, and beans are all excellent sources of plant-based protein and can be used in everything from main dishes to hardy salads.

 

Get inspired by global cuisine

 

Does your whole family love Italian food? Why not serve multiple lasagnas (or any other pasta dishes that would work well for a crowd), marinated vegetables and olives, a plate of Italian cheeses, and tiramisu for your next holiday meal? Or try a holiday meal inspired by all your favourite South Asian foods: serve your favourite homemade or store bought Indian and Pakistani food recipe with a selection of chutney, vegetable and fruit pickles, naan or roti, and mango lassi for a cooling beverage. With so many choices available to inspire and entice—Thai, Chinese, Greek, Russian, Ethiopian, and Mexican to name just a few—it’s never been easier to upend traditional holiday menus and inject a sense of wonder and creativity into the menu planning process.