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  • Writer's pictureHeather Buda

Thanksgiving Recipes for the Health Conscious

It’s that time of year again! Here in New England, the temperatures are dropping (still don’t think I’m ready for this cold) and the holiday buzz is around us.

Kicking off the holiday season with Thanksgiving means a smorgasbord of food – really delicious food. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie the list goes on. Regardless of whether you’re already practicing a healthy lifestyle or are in the process of changing your habits, these holidays can be challenging.

While one day of decadent eating won’t make you gain back the 20lbs you’ve already lost or hurt the progress you’ve made towards changing your habits to a healthier lifestyle, it can be a catalyst to further indulgences. Have you ever said to yourself, well I already messed up today so I might as well have the [pie, extra serving of potatoes, etc...]?

I’m here to bring you a list of healthier, and still uber delicious, recipes fit for your Thanksgiving table, as well as some tips on resuming your regular habits the following day.

I am thankful for YOU. Bon Appétit!


Turkey & Gravy

Traditional Gravy w/ Meat Juices from The Healthy Home Economist

Vegan Mushroom Gravy (dairy-free) from The Simple Veganista

Shiitake Mushroom Gravy (vegan, dairy- and gluten-free) from V Nutrition


Slow Cooker Stuffing from Well Plated

Sausage & Herb Stuffing from Ina Garten

Vegan Stuffing with Sage from One Bite Vegan

Sausage, Apple & Wild Rice Stuffing (dairy- and gluten-free) from EatingWell

Thanksgiving Stuffing from Love & Lemons

Mashed Potatoes

Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes from Cookie and Kate

Vegan Mashed Potatoes by Running on Real Food

Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes from Fannetastic Food

Mashed Sweet Potatoes (gluten-free) from Cooking with Curls

Cranberry Sauce

3-Ingredient Cranberry Sauce from Build your Bite

Spiced Cranberry Sauce from Cooking on the Weekends

Homemade Cranberry Sauce from Bobby Dean

Green Beans

Green Beans Almondine from A Beautiful Plate

Green Bean Casserole from Love & Lemons

Green Bean Casserole from Gimme Some Oven

Green Beans Gremolata from Ina Garten

Brussels Sprouts

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts (allergen-free) from The Pretty Bee

Everything but the Bagel Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Melissa’s Healthy Kitchen

Butternut Squash

Harvest Quinoa Salad from Recipe Runner

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from Downshiftology


Healthier Pumpkin Pie from Ambitious Kitchen

Apple Crisp from Fit Foodie Finds

Healthier Pecan Pie from A Sweet Pea Chef

Pear Apple Pie (paleo) from Cotter Crunch

"We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives." - John F. Kennedy

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and love; and that goes for your relationship with yourself as well. Below are tips for staying healthy while also enjoying the beauty the season has to offer.

Eat mindfully - So many delicious foods on the table...Must.Eat.Them.All. Taking small portions and eating slowly will not only allow you to sample and taste all the yummy dishes, but it will also aid in digestion.

Don't skip meals - Have you ever thought to yourself, "oh I ate too much at this meal so I'll just skip the next"? Depriving yourself of food is not the answer and can lead to further overeating at your next meal. Instead, focus on a mix of fresh veggies and lean protein.

Hydrate - The average adult body is made-up of 60% water, responsible for several important jobs within our bodies. For example, water acts as a transporter, a catalyst for chemical reactions, a lubricator, a body temp regulator, and a mineral provider (Precision Nutrition: The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition). Especially if you are consuming foods higher in salt or enjoying a couple holiday cocktails - your body will thank you for feeding it H2O (especially the following morning).

Go easy on the booze - There's nothing wrong with enjoying a few cocktails or glasses of wine with your loved ones, but don't forget that liquids have calories as well. You may be making great food choices this holiday but those 4 glasses of Cab can ring you in around 500 additional calories; if at 2,000 cal/day you've already filled 25% of your daily intake. If you are planning on imbibing, alternate your adult beverages with a glass of water - see "Hydrate" tip above.

Move - Not only is exercise good for your health, but it is also a great way to boost endorphins and destress. Whether it is running in a holiday 5K or enjoying a walk outside with your family, get that body moving.

Eat your vegetables - Vegetables are powerhouses when it comes to vitamins and minerals and, as lower calorie foods, they can also aid in weight management. Packing your plate with fresh produce will provide the micronutrients your body needs as well as fill you up (hello fiber) and help hydrate your body.

Nix the C.R.A.P. - Chemicals, Refined, Artificial and Processed foods may taste good, but the negative effects they have on your health will make you think twice about heating up that box of Tostino's Pizza Rolls. Research has shown links between these "foods" and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain forms of cancer, among other things. As part of a healthy diet year-round, opt for fresh, unprocessed foods as often as possible.

Don't beat yourself up - So you went a little overboard this holiday...It's OK. Practicing self-love can go so much further than obsessing over your mistakes. As you move forward, make small changes to get you back into your healthy routine, focusing on the positive way those choices make you feel.

I hope you found this helpful and are able to take at least one thing away this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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