We all know that the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is the sides, right? There’s sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and bread...I mean, what’s not to love?!
I rounded up three of my favorite must-have sides and made them entirely in reusable stasher bags. And it was a total success! Not only was this cooking method super easy, it was also completely waste free, and I feel good knowing that my food hasn't been tainted by plastic chemicals.
First up is the cranberry sauce. Just cranberries, honey (or maple syrup!), and a little vanilla bean powder to make it fancy. It’s so easy and much healthier than regular cranberry sauce! I love mine to be a little tart, but you are welcome to add more sweetener if you like yours on the sweeter side. This cranberry sauce is also fantastic with some freshly grated orange zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Healthier Cranberry Sauce
- 12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed
- ½ c honey or pure maple syrup
- ½ t vanilla bean powder (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract!)
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat on the stove.
Place the cranberries, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla bean powder in a half-gallon Stasher bag. Seal tightly and place in the large pot of boiling water. Place a lid over the pot, and let cook for 60 minutes.
Very carefully lift the stasher bag out of the pot and place onto a clean towel. While the berries are still hot, smash them up inside the stasher bag. *Use oven mitts or the back of a large wooden spoon to save your hands from the heat.* Place in the refrigerator to chill completely, then serve.
Next, I made lemon butter green beans. Green beans have always been one of my very favorite vegetables. They’re so fresh and crunchy and I love to eat them as a snack! As opposed to making the classic green bean casserole, I like to keep it simple and on the healthier side of things with a little lemon zest, salt, and a knob of grass-fed butter. The lemon zest keeps this dish bright and fresh, a refreshing break from the heaviness of the Thanksgiving meal.
Lemon Butter Green Beans
- 1 lb of fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 T grass-fed, salted butter (or olive oil, if vegan)
- Pinch of salt
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat on the stove. Place the green beans in a half-gallon Stasher bag, sealing tightly. Place the Stasher bag in the pot and close with the lid. Let cook for 15-20 minutes, until the green beans have softened lightly but haven’t lost their bright color or snap. Carefully lift the bag out of the water and place onto a clean towel. Let cool for just a few minutes, until safe to handle. Very carefully open the bag, being mindful of the steam that comes out. Add in the lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and butter. Shake until the green beans are evenly coated. Serve immediately.
Lastly, I made mashed potatoes - but with a twist! I used half potatoes, and half cauliflower. Have you ever had cauliflower mash before? Trust me - even if you are a cauliflower hater, you will love it. I also cooked the potatoes and cauliflower with a few cloves of garlic for that irresistible roasted garlic flavor!
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (& Cauliflower!)
- 3 heaping cups cubed yukon gold potatoes, washed & peeled
- 3 heaping cups cauliflower florets
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 4 T grass-fed, salted butter (or olive oil, if vegan)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Chives, for garnish
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat on the stove. Place the potatoes, cauliflower, and garlic in a half-gallon Stasher bag, sealing tightly. Place the Stasher bag in the pot and close with the lid. Let cook for 60 minutes, then check the potatoes with a fork to see if they are soft. If not, let cook for another 15-20 minutes. Carefully lift the bag out of the water and place onto a clean towel. Let cool for a few minutes, until safe to handle. In a large bowl, empty the contents of the Stasher bag, and add the butter, salt, and pepper. Mash until smooth, and then season additionally to taste. A small batch can be mashed right in your stasher bag! Serve immediately.
If you've got a big enough pot, you could cook all of these sides at once, starting with your potatoes, then putting in your cranberries and green beans when the time is right. Afterward, your stashers can all go in the dishwasher for the easiest clean up ever!
We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and a very happy holiday season.