A Healthier Take on Thanksgiving Recipes!

Healthier Take On Thanksgiving Recipes -- The Organic Beauty Blog

Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite holidays.. and not just because it falls on my birthday every few years!  Getting together with family, laughing, drinking, and eating amazing food make for a pretty perfect affair, and I am always eager to find ways to make it a healthier one.

Luckily, a lot of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes are already pretty healthy at their core–the gratuitous addition of marshmallows, cream, and tons of butter and sugar to pretty much everything is definitely the Standard American Diet interpretation of classically delicious and nourishing foods.  Get back to the basics and make Thanksgiving a healthy and yummy celebration of the autumn harvest, as it was always meant to be!  Below, find some healthier versions of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, your family will love them, and everyone will feel much less comatose afterwards.But first, try the following tips this year, and get through it all without gaining a dress size:

  • Make sure to have a healthy breakfast the morning of Thanksgiving (if you do the whole dinner at 3pm thing), and/or a healthy lunch (if you sit down to dinner later).  I know this is contrary to the mentality of fasting before a huge meal, but making sure you’ve eaten well throughout the day will ensure that you’ll eat less!
  • If you’re cooking, use some healthy substitutions for common ingredients (agave or stevia instead of sugar; Earth Balance instead of butter; almond milk or coconut milk for milk or cream;  whole grain bread for white bread).  If you’re not the one cooking, take the opportunity to chat with mom (or whoever) about some healthier options, or just go ahead and bring the ingredients over and offer to help!
  • If salads aren’t a traditional part of your family’s T-giving dinner, make it one!  Start the meal with a healthy salad course before diving into the insanity.
  • Try a little bit of everything.  Don’t load your plate with heaps of the three fattiest things on the table.  Allow yourself a small portion of all the dishes, which will give you a more balanced meal, as well as encouraging you to eat less overall without feeling deprived.
  • I’ll be the first to admit that playing football is sooo not my thing, but the sentiment is spot on.  If you’re having an early dinner, get the family outside afterwards for some physical activity.  It’ll get things moving, and help you to digest your big meal!  If you’re eating later, have everyone go for an evening walk together after dinner.  It could be the start of a new family tradition!
  • Lastly, slow down!!  The holiday meal is a celebration of family and loved ones, not just food.  So take your time to eat slowwwwwly, chew your food and focus on the company!

Mashed Yams with Coconut Milk

A Healthier Take on Thanksgiving Recipes!This dairy-free take on traditional mashed yams tastes exactly the same as the one you’re used to, but with substantially less fat and calories! 

Ingredients:

5-6 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut in halves or thirds
1 14 oz can organic coconut milk
2 tbsp olive oil or Earth Balance
1 tbsp maple syrup or organic raw agave
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
a pinch of sea salt

In a large pot, cover the yams with water and bring to a boil.  Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until soft.  Remove from water, mash or put through potato ricer.  Pour in coconut milk until the desired consistency is reached (this may not be the whole can), and stir in remaining ingredients.

Mushroom and Walnut Stuffing

This stuffing recipe uses vegetable broth and spelt bread instead of the traditional chicken broth and refined, white bread, which makes it heartier, and a whole lot healthier!  

Ingredients:A Healthier Take on Thanksgiving Recipes!

10 oz. cremini or button mushrooms, diced
2 large, yellow onions, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 loaf of whole grain spelt bread (you can also use a good rye or other whole grain bread), left out overnight or toasted in the oven, cubed
1 to 1 1/2 cups low sodium organic vegetable broth
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
2 tbsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and celery, and season with a small pinch of salt and some pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add a bit more olive oil to the pan, and sauté the mushrooms and sage, seasoning with a small pinch of salt and some pepper.  Cook about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are browned.  Add wine and cook, stirring and scraping all bits off the bottom of the pan, until the wine is almost entirely evaporated.  Transfer to the bowl with vegetables, mix, and add bread, walnuts, and enough bread to moisten (stuffing should not be soggy).  Taste and add a bit more salt and pepper, if necessary.  Add eggs to the mixture and toss well to combine.

Pour stuffing into a lightly oiled, 2-quart baking dish.  If using stuffing for turkey, reserve four cups.  Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  Stuffing can also be made ahead of time, covered, and refrigerated before baking day-of.


{adapted from Martha Stewart Living}

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This classic roasted brussels sprout dish is rich and delicious without being full of the butter and bacon and aren’t doing anyone any favors.  The smoky, roasted hazelnuts add a meaty, bacon-y flavor without the artery-clogging fat!

A Healthier Take on Thanksgiving Recipes! Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs. brussels sprouts, halved, with stems cut off, and any discolored outer leaves removed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup or organic raw agave
3/4 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
2 dashes liquid smoke (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, toss hazelnuts with a splash of olive oil, the smoked paprika, and a tiny pinch of salt.  Spread onto a lined baking sheet and roast for about 10-12 minutes.  In the meantime, toss brussels sprouts, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.  For an added smoky flavor (for those of you who would miss the bacon), add a couple dashes of liquid smoke.  Once all the brussels sprouts are coated, pour into a 9×13 baking dish.  Roast in oven for 15 minutes (at this point, your hazelnuts are probably done!), and stir with a wooden spoon, and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.  Stir in maple syrup, and roast for a final 15 minutes, or until the sprouts are easily speared on a fork.  Remove from the oven, and toss with the toasted hazelnuts.  

Zesty Cranberry Sauce

Making homemade sauce out of fresh cranberries does wonders to improve the flavor and benefits of this traditional turkey condiment.  The canned stuff is cooked, processed, full of sugar, and has about zero health benefits, where as this super easy raw recipe is loaded with vitamin c, antioxidants, and is still sweet as can be!

Ingredients

12 oz bag fresh, organic cranberries
1 cup juice from about 3-4 organic oranges
1 tsp zest from one of the juiced organic oranges
1 medium organic apple, peeled and grated with a box grater
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup organic raw agave

Pulse cranberries, grated apple and orange juice in a food processor.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until desired consistency is reached.  For a thicker, chunkier sauce, use less orange juice.  For a smoother consistency, use full cup of juice.  Enjoy!

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

This recipe is great for vegetarians forgoing the turkey altogether, or meat-eaters who don’t want to add meat on top of more meat… I mean come on, is that really necessary?  This gravy tastes great with the turkey or without and is super healthy!

Ingredients

3/4 cup dried mushrooms, chopped (I like to use shiitakes)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tbsp Earth Balance
2 tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp thyme
Freshly ground pepper to taste.

Hydrate dried mushrooms with about 1/2 cup boiling water.  Cover and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Melt Earth Balance in a small skillet over medium heat, add onion, and saute lightly.  Add the mushrooms with their soaking liquid, tamari and the vegetable broth.  Add the flour, little-by-little, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Bring to a simmer or low boil, then reduce heat.  Add herbs and pepper, and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens.

Spicy Pumpkin Pie

A Healthier Take on Thanksgiving Recipes!This vegan take on the traditional pumpkin pie uses REAL pumpkins (commence gasping!) and not the canned, processed, sugar filled variety.  It also features silken tofu, which makes it much healthier and lower in fat, while still being rich and delicious.

Ingredients

1 medium sugar pumpkin (enough to make 2 cups mashed)
1 package organic silken tofu
3 tbsp organic cornstarch
3/4 cup raw organic agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
9 inch graham cracker pie crust (I like the one by Arrowhead Mills)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut pumpkin in half and remove stem, seeds and pulp.  (Save the seeds for roasting!)  Place two halves face down in a shallow baking dish and cover with foil  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until pumpkin flesh is tender.  Let cool, scoop out flesh and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Turn oven up to 425 degrees.  In food processor add agave and tofu to pureed pumpkin.   Add spices, cornstarch, and salt, and process thoroughly until smooth.  Pour mixture into pie crust and bake for 15 minutes.  Lower heat to 350 degrees, and bake for another 60 minutes.  Cool and serve!

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2 Comments
  • Health and Wellness Products and Services
    November 14, 2011

    Outstanding post over again. this is what I looking for my kids. Thanks

  • Natasha
    November 14, 2011

    Thanks for reading! These recipes are so great for kids… They can't taste the difference, and better yet, they unwittingly end up eating tons of veggies!

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