In Everyday Life, Fall, Food, Recipes
Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

hanksgiving is just weeks away, and for us, that means we’ve already been planning and preparing for the big day! My husband’s sister traditionally hosts Christmas…and Thanksgiving is our affair. I’m not sure there was ever a discussion about it, it just kinda happened!

In the past, I’d write these holidays off as “our exception to the rule” with our traditional diet. Because it’s just one day, I’d let it slide…then do my best not to let one day bleed into two months (easier said than done!). I’ve slowly been working to make our traditional holiday fare, more acceptable and pleasing to our tummies. After all, who likes having a grumbly tummy during the holidays anyway? It’s a work in progress!

Doing is Learning & Learning is Doing

If you’ve ever hosted Thanksgiving, you know it can be daunting. Where will everyone sit? How big of a turkey do I need? How many dinner rolls will people eat? How many pies should I bake? And how do I get all this food to the table at the same time while it’s all hot? Planning for a big crowd can be daunting, and cause much unwanted stress, be sure to get your beauty sleep, especially around the holidays, it’s so important to keeping the immune system strong.

I learned a lot the first year I hosted…my mommy was a state away, hosting her own guests, so I was mostly on my own to figure everything out (with speed-dial at the ready). Back then, I could hardly tell which side was up on the turkey, and only realized once it was cooked that I’d roasted the turkey upside-down by mistake! Live and learn! (Although now, along with brining our turkey, we routinely roast upside-down as we think it prevents the meat from drying out!)

Determine Tradition

I don’t know about your family, but mine expects to see certain dishes on the fourth Thursday of November. Take a moment and consider your guests…do they have a tradition they’ll be hoping to continue this year? If you’re unsure, it’s worth a quick phone call, and it’s possible they may offer to bring it if they do! One of our guests will be bringing her Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole (and I can hardly wait!). 

Our family has a few traditions, the first of which is piping hot Malasadas, fried up bright and early Thanksgiving morn’, then hand delivered to Auntie, Uncle and all the cousins. That’s right, because I’m a lunatic, I add in homemade Portuguese donuts to our already gigantic menu. But trust me, if you try them once, you’ll make them a tradition too. This year I’ll be experimenting with Sourdough Malasadas…we’ll see how it goes! 

We also must have (OK, I…I must have) Frog Eye Salad (click here for our “healthier” Frog Eye Salad recipe). Then there’s the crescent rolls that come in a tube (although I’m trying this homemade version and subbing coconut oil for the shortening this year, we’ll see how well they’re received), and Grammie’s Pumpkin Pie with chunks of cream cheese (ya’ll have no idea how much this improves a pumpkin pie!). 

Traditional Fare

I’m talking turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes…yes, we have ’em all. Just like the Pilgrims did! (My 5th grade daughter would be doing a giant eye roll as she’s studying American History this year…I’m still not sure where our traditional fare actually stemmed from.)

How to Make it Healthy?

I think you’ll agree, many of the traditionally prepared Thanksgiving dishes are quite filling and nutritious, no alterations needed…but those non-traditional traditions just scream tummy ache! We’ve been working for a couple of years to transition our menu to one that’s taste bud and tummy friendly. As I said, we’ll be trying homemade crescent rolls this year, we’ll be enjoying my revamped and “healthified” Frog Eye Salad made with unrefined sugar, organic pasta and homemade Cool Whip, and I’ll be baking up some loaves of sourdough bread ahead of time for my mother-in-law to make stuffing (her recipe can’t be beat…I’m hopeful she’ll disclose her secrets for all ya’ll next year!). 

Because we don’t all have hours on end to reinvent recipes, we’ve compiled a list to help you out. Here are some of our favorite healthier options for those Thanksgiving favorites. Grab a pen and start planning for the big day! Then, head on over to our Thanksgiving Preparation Countdown to help you stay organized and keep that sanity intact!

Showing 2 comments
  • Chrissy @ Snacking in Sneakers

    Great roundup! Thanks for including my cranberry sauce. Can’t wait to work through (aka EAT) the rest of the recipes on this list! 🙂

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen

      You bet Chrissy! Haha, I agree…working through the list is the best part! 😉

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