Blog · Nutrition

Recipe Swaps for A Healthier Thanksgiving Dinner

Healthy Thanksgiving … yes, it DOES exist!

With some of the family not being in town for the real deal this week, we decided to have a mini Thanksgiving celebration at our house last week.

But I didn’t want to have TWO legit Thanksgivings with all of the unhealthiness that they would bring! So I did some research and put together and entire Thanksgiving feast that was completely healthy and not off-meal plan AT ALL!

Even better? No one else even knew that it was healthy until I told them! Everyone loved everything (dessert included)!

Jon even went as far as to say that my cranberry sauce was better than ANY he’s ever had before…even my grandma’s, which she’s famous for and is a staple at my parents’ house every year! (<—WHAAAAAATTTTTT????)

Basically, the meal was a huge success!

So I thought I’d share my recipes with you so that you can clean up your own feast too! Even if you don’t make your Thanksgiving dinner completely clean, swapping out a dish or two definitely makes a difference in the waistline 😉

While the turkey part is usually the least one anyone’s concerns on the healthy scale, the gravy that you slather it in tends to be ridiculously high in sodium! Check out this gravy recipe that has less than a quarter of the sodium that you typically find in it!

Mushroom and Garlic Gravy
(makes 13 servings, 3 tbsp each)

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
¼ cup mushrooms, finely chopped
3 gloves minced garlic
¼ cup cornstarch
3 cups low sodium veggie broth
1.5 tsp low sodium soy sauce
Black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft.
3. Add arrowroot; mix well to form a smooth paste.
4. Slowly add broth; whisking constantly to blend. Season with soy sauce and pepper.
5. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; gently boil, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.
Healthy stuffing…it’s a thing…and it may have even been more delicious for leftovers the next day!

Zucchini Stuffing with Mushrooms & Garlic
(serves 10)

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Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 medium shallots, chopped
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
2 medium red (or green, orange, or yellow) bell peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup raisins
8 cups whole-grain bread cubes
3 cups low-sodium organic vegetable (or chicken) broth
2 Tbsp. white wine (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:
1. Heat oven at 350° F.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add onions, shallots, celery, and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
4. Add garlic, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Combine onion mixture, parsley, raisins, bread, broth, and wine (if desired) in a large bowl; mix well.
6. Place stuffing in a 3-quart baking dish lightly covered in spray. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through.

Need a veggie side dish for next week that’s easy to make in bulk? Here’s your answer!

Roasted Green Beans with Garlic
(serves 6)

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Ingredients:
3 lbs. thin green beans, ends trimmed
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. Combine green beans, garlic, and oil in a large bowl; toss gently to coat.
3. Place green beans on a baking sheet. Bake, shaking pan occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender-crisp.

FINALLY! The cranberry sauce! Not super sugary like most, but still super delicious!

Cranberry Sauce
(makes 16 servings, 1/4 cup each)

img_1114

Ingredients:
½ cup 100% orange juice
½ cup unsweetened apple juice
1 tsp. finely chopped orange peel
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
1 cup chopped raw pecans
½ cup raisins
⅔ cup canned crushed pineapples, packed in juice
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Directions:
1. Bring orange juice, apple juice, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Add cranberries. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, uncovered, for about 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Add pecans, raisins, and pineapple; cook for 2 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from heat.
4. Add maple syrup; mix well.
5. Cool before serving.

By the time we were done with our healthy Thanksgiving FEAST, this was the perfect healthy dessert to top things off! We were already completely stuffed, so this kept things on the lighter side, but still gave you that sweet, pie fix that you’re looking for!

Apple Crisp
(Serves 4)

img_1112

Ingredients:
4 cups peeled, sliced apples
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, divided use
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided use
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats (use gluten-free oats if desired)
¼ cup finely chopped raw walnuts

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. Combine apples, 2 Tbsp. maple syrup, and ½ tsp. cinnamon in a medium baking dish; mix well. Set aside.
3. Combine oats, walnuts, remaining 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, and remaining ½ tsp. cinnamon in a medium bowl; mix well.
4. Top apple mixture with oat mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until apples are soft.

How about a bonus recipe to celebrate the pumpkin season and give you some much-needed energy while you’re running around like crazy this week trying to get everything done???

Pumpkin treats don’t always have to be unhealthy! And these ones don’t require any baking either…WIN WIN in my book!

Plus, the dates that hold them together are a great source of energy and fiber, and the maple syrup and coconut flakes that help sweeten them up won’t cause you to crash afterwards either!

Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites
(makes 16 bites total, 2 bites per serving)

img_1115

Ingredients:
1 cup pitted dates
Warm water
½ cup raw pecan halves (or pecan pieces)
⅓ cup canned pumpkin puree
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, reserve small amount for garnish
1 tsp. pure hazelnut extract (or pure maple extract)
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 pinch sea salt

Directions:
1. Place dates in a medium bowl; cover with water. Let soak for 10 minutes. Drain. Set aside.
2. Place pecans in food processor; pulse until finely ground.
3. Add dates, pumpkin, coconut, extract, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt; pulse until well mixed. Place in a medium bowl. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.
4. Using clean hands, roll into tablespoon-sized balls; roll in reserved coconut (if desired).
5. Store, refrigerated, in airtight container.

Remember, you don’t need to completely overhaul your entire menu! But small swaps here and there add up! And honestly … you WON’T feel deprived from making a few of them 😉

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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