Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays—why? Because of the food? Actually, for me, it’s more about gratitude and family and friends coming together. It’s also the only holiday that everyone in our entire country celebrates. Regardless of our religious or spiritual beliefs, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate by coming together in thanks and friendship. To top it off, we can enjoy a feast!
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to leave you feeling stuffed like a turkey and guilty for overindulging. It’s not a big secret, but many people forget… if you stick with fresh whole foods, you’ll find there are many nutrient-rich foods in traditional Thanksgiving meals. I’ve taken traditional recipes and swapped out ingredients to help you stay healthy this holiday season. Here are 8 traditional Thanksgiving recipes with a healthy spin:
(Recipes provided by Dr. Trevor Cates and her friends and family)
Don’t forget the salad! It’s a great way to start your Thanksgiving meal, so you don’t overeat on everything else that follows. Pack it full of nutrients, such as the ones in this recipe.
- 6 cups mixed salad greens
- 1 cup fresh or dried (no sugar added) organic blueberries
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- ½ cup pomegranate juice
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ground pepper and pinch of salt (to taste)
- fresh oregano, basil, or other herbs of choice
Place greens, blueberries, pomegranate seeds and walnuts in large bowl. Mix vinegar, pomegranate juice, mustard, salt and pepper with wire whisk until well blended. Add oil, whisking until well blended. Pour over salad, add fresh herbs, and toss to coat with dressing. Serve immediately.
Mom’s Rad Sweet Potato Casserole
Thanks to my mother Gwen Cates for taking the dreaded marshmallow topped sweet potato recipe and turning it into this Thanksgiving favorite!
- 6 large sweet potatoes or yams
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tangerine divided into segments
- ½ cup coconut milk
- I cup dried shredded coconut
- 2 Tablespoons grass fed butter or coconut oil
- 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
Boil sweet potatoes in a large pot of water. Drain and slide skins off of potatoes. Mash in a large bowl, add rest of ingredients and mix well. Place in coconut oil greased casserole dish. Spread topping over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until warm and topping is lightly toasted.
Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries are antioxidant-rich, but they’re so sour. Reduce the sugar spike by sweetening with fruit, honey, and spices instead of sugar.
- 4 cups fresh cranberries
- ¼ cup of water
- ¼ cup of applesauce
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, all-spice and/or cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons of honey (can reduce if add stevia)
In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, pineapple juice, honey, applesauce, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick and nutmeg. Stir to blend and simmer until some of the cranberries start to burst and some remain whole. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.
Real Green Beans
Throw out the canned green bean and cream of mushroom casserole recipe and replace with this fresh, delicious recipe. It’s even good at room temperature or cold!
- 1 pound green beans, prepped
- 3 – 4 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Bring about an inch of water to boil in a large saucepan (preferably fitted with a steamer basket). Add green beans, cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes (until tender/crisp). In the meantime, whisk dill, shallot, oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the green beans and toss to coat. Let stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving to enhance flavor.
Butternut Squash Soup
I love this one, and it’s also great for leftovers since it’s easy to reheat and enjoy post-Thanksgiving.
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ¾ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup thinly sliced carrot
- ¼ – ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- Celtic or Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cups free range chicken stock
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the squash and cut into 1-inch pieces. In a large pot, heat coconut oil and onion over medium heat. Add and cook about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for a minute, and then add squash, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and puree the soup with a hand blender or food processor. Return to heat, add the coconut milk and season to taste.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
With the pomegranate seeds, this looks very festive. And, the apple helps reduce the bitterness that many people associate with Brussels sprouts.
- 1 pint Brussels sprouts, cleaned and left whole
- 1 small apple, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts , apple and oil together. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil; spread apple-Brussels sprouts mixture evenly. Roast uncovered for 20 minutes and then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
Low-Carb Mashed “Potatoes”
Sneak another vegetable in your Thanksgiving lineup with this yummy alternative to mashed potatoes. Most potatoes (russet potatoes) cause a spike in blood sugar, which is followed with a crash and overeating.
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk or grass-fed milk
- Celtic or Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons grass-fed butter
- ½ teaspoon fresh chives
Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Steam or boil until cooked but not overdone. Drain well. Puree with hand blender or food processor with oil, milk, and seasonings. Blend until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Garnish with butter and chives. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Pumpkin Pie (Dairy-free, gluten-free, organic)
It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the pumpkin pie. Drop the guilt, and enjoy a slice of this healthier lower-sugar option.
- ¼ – ½ cup raw sugar (depending on how sweet you like your pie)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 large organic free range eggs
- 1 can (15 oz.) organic unsweetened pumpkin
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 unbaked organic gluten-free 9-inch deep-dish pie shell
Preheat oven to 425, combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat eggs, stir in pumpkin and then sweetener mixture. Gradually stir in coconut milk and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, reduce temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 40 to 5 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
In great gratitude to you all, I wish you a very Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!