Enjoy your Thanksgiving family time, MINUS the uncomfortable post-meal bloat and guilt hanging over you! There’s a way to still feel like you’re indulging, but minus the health-compromising ingredients—through using healthy Thanksgiving recipes!
With a little creativity, you can incorporate foods and spices with powerful health benefits that will give your body the strength, vitamins, nutrients to fight off sickness this season.
Here are some alternatives to your favorite holiday meals, but with a healthy flare!
Best Spices to Incorporate in Your Thanksgiving Dinner
Herbs contribute a significant amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to a dish in a small, power-packed punch. Not only do they add flavor and dimension to dishes, but you can select herbs specifically to strengthen your immune system!
- Thyme – is high in vitamins C and A, and is known to help lower blood pressure (Source)
- Cilantro – is anti-inflammatory, a natural pain reliever, and is high in antioxidants (Source)
- Garlic – is high in the antimicrobial allicin, helps to reduce blood pressure and reduce hardening of the arteries
- Turmeric – is anti-inflammatory, protects your body from disease, and may even help prevent cancer (Source)
- Oregano – exhibited the highest antioxidant capacity compared with 8 other herbs (Source)
- Cayenne – the main ingredient is the phenol capsaicin, which has anti-inflammatory benefits (Source)
Do your best to incorporate these herbs in your cooking this holiday season!
Healthier Versions of the Classics
It wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving dinner without these staples! Here is some inspiration for how you can make healthier swaps so you don’t have to cut any of your favorites out.
Tips for Finding a Healthy Turkey
Make sure to read turkey labels and look for no preservatives, salt additives, etc. Look for these keywords on the label: certified humane, global animal partnership, Kosher, organic.
If a turkey label says that it is self-basting, basted or injected, that means they are most likely factory-farmed, processed by being injected with a saline solution and vegetable oils to tenderize their breasts, and the ingredient list can contain unknowns like emulsifiers and artificial flavors. I recommend looking for an organic, free-range turkey.
Grain Free Dressing
Here’s a paleo recipe for stuffing, minus the hugely inflammatory gluten! You can take your favorite stuffing or dressing recipe and sub out regular flour for gluten free flour like coconut flour or almond flour. Also, have fun with adding some of the spices above based on your taste.
- 2 tablespoons ghee or avocado oil or refined coconut oil
- 3 cups onion diced
- 2 cups celery diced
- 1 cup mushrooms diced
- 1 cup apple cored and diced
- ¼ cup no sugar added, dried cranberries or dates, chopped
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley chopped
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups almond flour
- 3 eggs whisked
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Heat ghee in a large cast-iron or oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, apple, mushrooms, cranberries or dates, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Sauté until soft.
Remove from heat. Stir in almond flour. Add the whisked eggs and stir well. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until browned on top.
Make Your Own Cranberry Sauce
Don’t skip the cranberry sauce this year! After all, cranberries great for your gut, heart and immune and are high in antioxidants. (Source) Simply opt for making your own rather than store bought so you can control the quality of ingredients. The example recipe below also incorporates ginger, which will give your digestive system a little soothing on a day it probably needs it. 😉
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- ⅓ cup raw honey
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- zest and juice from one orange
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the fruit is soft and the liquid has thickened.
Sweet Potato Casserole
This is another keeper classic! The root vegetable is packed with vitamins C and A, manganese (which helps produce collagen), several B vitamins and potassium. PLUS they have natural anti-inflammatory compound, and DON’T spike your blood sugar unlike other starchy foods.
Sweet Potato Base –
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- ⅓ c unsweetened, non-dairy milk (coconut or almond milk)
- 3 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil
- ¼ c pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ c pecans, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil
- 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch salt
Sweet Potato Base –
Boil sweet potatoes over medium-high heat until completely tender (potatoes will pierce easily with a fork). Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add milk, ghee, syrup, salt, vanilla, and egg. Mash until smooth. Add 2-3 Tbsp milk as needed. Pour mash into an 8×8 or 2 quart baking dish and smooth the surface.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make the topping. In a medium bowl, combine pecans, ghee, syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mash. Cover the dish with foil and bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes.
Paleo Pumpkin Pie
Yes! You can have a Thanksgiving dessert that is grain free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- 2 Tbsp coconut flour sifted
- ⅔ cup tapioca flour
- ½ cup ghee
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 egg
- 15 oz can pumpkin puree
- ⅔ cup full fat coconut milk, blended
- 6 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 2 large eggs room temp
- 1 egg yolk room temp
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Pulse all crust ingredients in a food processor, EXCEPT egg, to create thick crumbs, then process in the egg until a dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before pressing into your pie dish.
Press it evenly into 9 inch pie dish using your hands. This dough will break easily since it lacks gluten. Refrigerate longer to make it more easily moldable.
Gently pierce the dough with a fork all over so it doesn’t puff up while baking. Bake pie crust in 9” pie dish in the 375 degree oven for 10 minutes until bottom is set, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before pouring in filling.
Whisk all ingredients except eggs, then whisk in eggs and egg yolk. Pour filling into partially baked crust, spreading it all around to seal edges. Cover crust with aluminum foil and bake (at 375°F for 55-65 minutes or until center is nearly set and crust is deep golden brown.
There you have it! I hope these recipes help you have a healthier Thanksgiving so you can fully enjoy your time with loved ones without being distracted by digestive upset or brain fog. If you have a healthy Thanksgiving hack you love, please share in the comments!