Thanksgiving isn’t just for family anymore. Many members of younger generations are embracing Friendsgiving, a meal focused around friendship! Friendsgiving is especially popular on college campuses, when some students opt to stay on campus over the holiday break or can’t make it home. So we’ve rounded up our best tips and Friendsgiving recipes to make sure you have a great time with friends and food, on or off campus.
Spending time with your friends around a delicious holiday meal is important, as is making sure to use the best ingredients possible. Per Conscious Kitchen’s FLOSN philosophy, we believe in fresh, local, organic, seasonal, nutritious food for all.
Ingredients and Dishes
It’s important to stay healthy while eating festive meals! That’s why we recommend ingredients be organic, fresh, and whole. All of these Friendsgiving recipes are easily adjustable to fit dietary needs (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, you name it). And while we encourage conscious, minimized consumption of animal products, the animal proteins we include in the following recipes are organic, humanely-raised, and free of antibiotics.
Seasonal, Organic Produce
Seasonal, organic ingredients are the best choice to use when cooking any meal, because they are better for the planet and you! When choosing your menu of Friendsgiving recipes, take note of which ingredients you already have in your kitchen to minimize waste (and save some money too). For ingredients you need to purchase, buying organic produce at farmers’ markets is a great way to support local farmers while also obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables that are produced sustainably, at peak freshness, and optimal for health.
As the weather cools and autumn is upon us, what better way to spice up your meals than to incorporate classic seasonal produce? Pumpkins are a favorite this time of year for a variety of soups and desserts (and even hummus, cream cheese, and, of course, lattes!), in addition to the one-of-a-kind pumpkin pie. Any sweet potato or starchy veggie is great for roasting or turning into a mash. Creamy butternut squash is incredibly nutritious and tasty on its own or as a component of a seasonal dish. From pumpkins to squash and more, these seasonal staples are the perfect ingredients for warm, delicious meals and can easily be found at local farmers’ markets.
We have to talk about the staple of any Thanksgiving meal: turkey! And not just any turkey, but the organic, humanely-raised star ingredient. Make sure to check the labels for Organic certifications and terms like Pasture-Raised, Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership. These ensure that the meat you are buying is antibiotic, growth hormone and animal byproduct free, raised in free-range, forage-based or outdoor systems, along with other strict rules and regulations.
Though conventional meat may not look different from organic meat at first glance, there’s a huge distinction between the two underneath the surface. Organic meats are a much healthier alternative for your body, farmers, and the environment, and produced through more sustainable, equitable means.
In terms of health and nutrition, organic meats do not contain synthetic chemicals, GMOs, artificial preservatives, antibiotics, fillers or growth hormones. This starkly contrasts the dangerous substances often found in conventional meat, such as residues of pesticides, fertilizers, and growth hormones, which can lead to harmful diseases that threaten health. Organic turkeys are strictly raised without added chemicals, antibiotics or growth hormones. Excess antibiotic residue in conventional turkey can be dangerous, as it leads to antibiotic resistance that causes higher risk for several illnesses. So when choosing a bird for your next holiday dish, consider a fresh, organic turkey that naturally comes antibiotic-free.
If buying a whole turkey isn’t for you (considering the typical college student budget and kitchen), sliced meat is another option for your Friendsgiving recipes or just your day to day meal planning and snacking! While conventional deli meat contains chemically-produced preservatives with harmful nitrates and nitrites, organic deli meat contains only natural preservatives, usually from vegetable sources such as celery powder or juice. For a good old fashioned turkey sub or turkey and cheese sandwich, opt for the natural and organic selection to avoid harmful chemicals.
Organic meats are produced through farming methods that benefit the earth. Oftentimes, organic farms employ regenerative practices, a more sustainable farming model that is actually good for the environment. Regenerative agriculture, farming and grazing work to reverse climate degradation by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring biodiversity, which lead to carbon drawdown and improvements in the water cycle. More specifically, the pasture-raising process helps fight climate change, as grasses for grass-fed livestock trap atmospheric carbon dioxide and sequester it into soil where it belongs. By leveraging the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, farmers can build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density.
Applegate is one company that champions these practices, collaborating with farmers to capture and promote diverse regenerative practices that are already being used, such as buffer strips, pollinator and wildlife refuge plots, species diversification and cover cropping, as well as dedicating resources to better understand and calculate the positive impact of animals for carbon sequestration and soil biodiversity. By increasing the number of partners who raise organic and humanely-raised meats, and supporting organic fraud-prevention programs and efforts to strengthen organic and animal welfare standards, they better systems and ecosystems for all.
While conventional farms feed animals with pesticides and GMOs, many organic farms opt for a 100% vegetarian-based/grass-fed diet that is healthier and supports natural animal growth. Furthermore, organic farms treat animals more humanely by providing plenty of pasture space, as well as clean natural environments.
Organic meat is by all means better for the health of our communities and planet, supporting sustainability and equity.
As this Friendsgiving rolls around, we hope you enjoy many warm meals with loved ones — and center sustainable, organic ingredients that are better for you and the planet. That is a true gift for the holidays!
Dorm-Friendly Friendsgiving Recipes
Gathering with friends on a cozy fall evening for Friendsgiving would not be complete without your favorite dishes to share. If you’re a college student, finding the perfect recipe to cook in a dorm room can be difficult, especially without access to a large kitchen.
Luckily, there are plenty of fun, easy recipes that you can make. Here are a few of our favorite college-friendly Friendsgiving recipes from our Turning Green Intern team!
by Turning Green Intern Meredith
This bacon burger recipe is something I concocted because I love to watch cooking shows and always see famous chefs making their own version of a bacon cheeseburger. And I thought: “Why not make my own version?!” I’ve eaten Applegate turkey bacon for years now, and thought it would complement the burger perfectly. This is a recipe I made up as I went along, and perfected after a few tries. And let me tell you, it’s unbelievable. Now anytime I buy Applegate turkey bacon from the grocery store, the package is finished within 2 days. And this bacon burger is my go-to meal! I have gotten my mom and sister to try this recipe and they both fell in love as well. This burger is good for any day of the week, any time of day, for any person! All you have to do is switch it up for dietary needs (plant patty, turkey burger, vegan cheese, you name it!) and you’ve got your own version of an Applegate bacon cheeseburger! Happy organic eating!
- 1 APPLEGATE® WELL CARVED™ Organic Beef Burger 2–3 slices Applegate Organics Turkey Bacon
- 1 hamburger bun
- 1 slice APPLEGATE ORGANICS® Monterey Jack Cheese Organic lettuce leaves
- Organic sliced tomatoes Organic sliced onions Sliced pickles
- In a pan on medium heat, start to cook your Applegate Well Carved Organic Grass-fed Beef Burger patty until it’s brown and well cooked on both sides.
- When your patty is cooked, place it on a dish to the side of your stove with a cover on top to keep warm. Next, take 2-3 slices of Applegate Organics Turkey Bacon and place them in the pan on medium-high heat.
- Flip your bacon every 2-3 minutes until brown, crispy, and bubbling.
- Now it’s time to assemble your burger! Take a bun of your choice, and put your burger patty on top. Next is Applegate Organics Monterey Jack Cheese, your crispy bacon slices, and layers of fresh organic tomato, onion, lettuce, lots of pickles, ketchup, and whichever toppings you prefer!
This will definitely be a messy meal, but deliciously worth it! Nothing beats an Applegate bacon burger. With only a few steps and delicious, organic ingredients, you will be dreaming of this burger for dinner every night. Enjoy!
by Turning Green Intern Jenny
As a college student, I often don’t have a lot of time to prepare meals as I am balancing academics, work, and extracurriculars. Which is why I love this recipe because it’s so quick and easy, yet still very delicious and nourishing! These lettuce wraps are extremely customizable, which makes it even more fun to assemble and eat. I am a huge veggie lover, so always add a bunch of fresh veggies to mine, which pairs perfectly with Applegate turkey and cheese. For those looking for a simple, tasty, quick-to-make meal, this is the perfect recipe for you! Feel free to personalize your turkey lettuce wraps to your own tastes, and I hope you will enjoy it just as much as I do!
- Lettuce, well washed
- 2–3 slices APPLEGATE ORGANICS® Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast
- 1–2 slices APPLEGATE ORGANICS® Provolone Cheese
- Assorted sliced vegetables, such as tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, etc.
- Dressing of your choice
- Start by taking a few pieces of your favorite lettuce (make sure to wash it before!) to layer on top of each other.
- Grab a few slices of Applegate Organics Oven Roasted Turkey Breast and place them on top of your lettuce base.
- Throw in a slice or two of delicious Applegate Organics Provolone Cheese on top of your turkey breast.
- Now it’s time to personalize your wrap! Add in your favorite toppings. I absolutely love veggies, so I like to add tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, and any other seasonal, organic finds!
- Once you have all your toppings arranged, add a dressing or sauce of your choice.
- Take the side end of your wrap and roll it up. You can cut your wrap into smaller bite-sized pieces, if you prefer.
And that’s it! This is a great light and refreshing meal to make that doesn’t require many kitchen items. Get creative with your wraps and try out different toppings.
Holiday-or-any-day Turkey Sandwich
A twist on a post-holiday favorite!
We love the classic day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich, but who’s to say you can’t eat it anytime of year, especially around the holidays? Make a feast one night and use up leftovers for days to come with this recipe, or make it from scratch quickly and easily for yourself. Loaded with classic autumn produce and your favorite holiday staples, including turkey and stuffing, this sandwich is hearty and filling — and always a pleaser for friends and family!
- Applegate Organics Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
- Applegate Organics Provolone Cheese (or choose your favorite!)
- 2 slices of bread (we recommend this Organic Soft French Loaf from the CK Cookbook by incredible three star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn)
- 1-2 tablespoons stuffing with Applegate Organics Sweet Italian Sausage
- 1-2 teaspoons cranberry sauce
- 1-2 slices roasted sweet potatoes
- Handful fresh spinach
- 1-2 teaspoons gravy
- Toast bread to desired crispness.
- Layer a few slices of Applegate Organics Oven Roasted Turkey Breast onto toasted bread.
- Add Applegate Organics Provolone Cheese.
- Next, add on the sausage stuffing. Be sure to pack it down to stay together and to make room for more ingredients!
- Layer on as much roasted sweet potato as you desire.
- Grab a handful of fresh, organic spinach to toss on top.
- To finish off your sandwich, add cranberry sauce and gravy, before topping with the other piece of bread.
- If desired, you can make it a panini too! Either use a panini press or place your sandwich in a pan on medium heat with another heavy pan on top. Wait a few minutes, and voila! You’ve got a Thanksgiving panini!
Sausage Stuffing Recipe
Adapted from Once Upon a Chef with Jenn Segal to use Applegate Organics Sweet Italian Sausage.
We love stuffing — and it’s a great, hearty dish that is worth eating more than once a year. Feel free to customize Jenn Segal’s delicious Sausage Stuffing Recipe — to add or take out any ingredients you wish to meet dietary requirements and taste preferences! Gluten-free? Easy. Dairy-free? Done. We think it’s best with Applegate Farms’ Organic Italian sausage to make the dish even better for your body, as well as our earth!
- 8 cups (400g) store-bought unseasoned stuffing cubes (they now make gluten-free options and/or you can dry and toast yourself!)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (or vegan/dairy-free butter)
- 1-1/2 cups diced yellow onion (1 large or 2 small onions)
- 1 cup diced celery (3 large celery stalks)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound Applegate Organics Sweet Italian Sausage
- 2-3/4 cups low sodium broth
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with butter.
- Place the stuffing cubes in a large mixing bowl.
- In a large sauté pan, melt the butter. Add the onions and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the vegetables to the stuffing cubes. (Don’t wash the pan but scrape out every last bit of vegetables, otherwise they will burn in the next step.)
- In the same pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a metal spatula while cooking (largest pieces should be no greater than 1/4-inch). Add the browned sausage and fat to the bread cubes and vegetables.
- Add the broth, egg, rosemary, sage, parsley, salt and pepper to the bread cube mixture and mix until the bread is soft and moistened. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish and bake for 65-75 minutes, uncovered, until deeply golden and crisp on top.
- Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The stuffing can be assembled up to a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake. Then follow the baking instructions in the recipe. It can also be frozen after baking, tightly covered, for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve it, defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Reheat it, covered with foil, in a 325°F oven until hot.
Holiday Ham Roll-ups
A quick appetizer or side!
These Holiday Ham Roll-ups have all the holiday flavors we cherish without making you feel too full. They are easy to eat, colorful, organic, and oh-so delicious… like an entire holiday meal in one light bite!
Ingredients: (per rollup)
- Applegate Organics Honey Ham
- 1 slice Applegate Organics Muenster Cheese
- 1 teaspoon sausage stuffing
- 1 teaspoon cranberry sauce
- 1 slice sweet potato
- Small handful spinach leaves
- 1 teaspoon gravy
- Place 1-2 slices of ham on a plate.
- Layer on cheese, a dollop of sausage stuffing, sweet potato slices, and spinach leaves.
- Add cranberry sauce and gravy.
- Roll it up tightly to ensure all ingredients stay inside the meat. Pop in a toothpick for ease!
- Repeat this process to make as many rollups as you would like to eat or share!
- Put a bowl of gravy on the side for dipping, and enjoy!
Purple Mashed Potatoes
A side of warm, mashed potatoes is always a must for your holiday dinner! Did you know potatoes come in different colors? Try this delicious Purple Mashed Potatoes recipe straight from our Conscious Kitchen Cookbook. It’s a flavorful blend of creamy potatoes with fragrant spices that will pair perfectly with your main dishes. This recipe is a fun and colorful twist on a traditional favorite.
- 5-6 purple potatoes (small to medium in size), peeled and quartered
- Organic chicken or vegetable broth or water to cover potatoes
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup choice of milk or cream (unsweetened almond, coconut, hemp, flax, dairy, etc.)
- 2 Tablespoons butter, ghee or vegan butter
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- In a large saucepan, add potatoes and enough broth or water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Add the salt and cook until potatoes are tender and practically fall apart.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk or cream, ghee or butter, garlic, herbs, and pepper over medium heat until simmering.
- Remove from heat and set aside. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain the broth.
- Mash and add the milk mixture, stirring to combine. Let it stand for a couple of minutes to allow the mixture to thicken. Serve immediately.
Spiced Apple Cider
Perfectly spiced and great hot or iced.
Need a hot drink to warm you up during this chilly autumn season? Try the beloved Spice Apple Cider recipe from our Conscious Kitchen Cookbook! With a delectable aroma, sweet flavor and rich spices, it will surely have you reaching for more.
- 12 apples, assorted varieties, roughly chopped (don’t worry about removing peels, seeds or stems)
- ½ orange, thinly sliced
- 4 whole cardamom pods
- 2 star anise
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 3-4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon whole cloves
- In a large stock pot, combine the apples, orange slices, cardamom pods, star anise, ginger, lemon zest, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Add water to cover by two inches. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for an hour.
- Cover the pot and simmer for at least two hours.
- Uncover and use a potato masher to roughly mash contents.
- Continue simmering until cider is dark and tastes sweet and spicy.
- When cider is ready, allow to cool, then strain apple pieces and whole spices into a clean pitcher or pot. To get the maximum amount of liquid, strain cider through a cheesecloth by twisting.
- Serve hot. Store in the refrigerator and reheat as desired.
Food is what connects us, what brings us together, what builds community. Cherish the memories of slicing a piece of organic turkey for a friend or passing an organic side to a family member. As the season of gratitude and giving rolls closer, make time to bond around hot, healthy, hearty meals and share festive experiences with those you love!