Delicious Health Conscious Thanksgiving Menu Ideas
Americans are excitedly preparing for their November feast, flipping through pages of recipes passed down from generation to generation. Yet, Thanksgiving is much more than a meal. For many, it is a time to reconnect with their roots and nourish loved ones with recipes that have been carefully crafted and prepared for special occasions. A good, hearty Thanksgiving meal feeds the belly and the soul as we commune together and reflect on our gratitude.
Although many of us can’t fathom breaking Thanksgiving traditions, sometimes we have to alter our menus to fit our needs. Whether you are planning on fewer guests or want to focus on specific health goals this holiday season, we have compiled our favorite health-centered recipes to inspire your Thanksgiving menu!
Variations of Thanksgiving Turkey
Over recent years, Thanksgiving feasts have dwindled in numbers. Although a beautiful browned Turkey is the mainstay of many Thanksgiving tables, the sheer volume of food is much too laborious and wasteful for crowds under twelve. So this year, we are getting creative with our roast turkey. No more waste and preparing for groups double the size of guests we are expecting!
10-12 Hungry Dinner Guests:
Suppose you serve upwards of twelve guests on Thanksgiving day. In that case, we recommend a beautiful, golden-brown whole turkey roasted to perfection. This is where quality really matters and the reason we LOVE ordering our free-range turkey from Butchered Box. We like to keep it simple with our roast turkey marinade and let the side dishes enhance the flavors of our perfectly cooked turkey.
All Thanksgiving Day chefs understand the pressure of delivering a beautifully prepared Turkey. So, how do we nail it? This recipe from the New York Times Cooking has 3.6k five-star reviews. We needed to know what all the hype was about!
Chef and recipe writer, Melissa Clark, stresses the importance of a dry brine to lock in moisture, ensuring a juicy outcome in her Simple Roast Turkey recipe. Clark keeps the recipe simple, leaving out the stuffing and trussings to ensure the bird cooks evenly. Not only does roasting a turkey without stuffing keep it from drying out, but it also ensures you and your dinner guests will not contract a foodborne illness. And if you want to avoid the use of white wine from this recipe, consider a grass-fed, grass-finished bone broth, like those from Kettle and Fire. You could also consider opting for Apple Cider Vinegar from amazing brands like Bragg’s
Visit the New York Times for the full recipe and directions.
More than two, less than 10:
If you are cooking for a smaller crowd, don’t feel obligated to roast a whole turkey. Instead, you might find it easier to opt for a roast turkey breast entree. Cooking turkey breasts is also an excellent option for those who tend to choose white meat. If you favor white meat, don’t bother cooking a whole turkey.
There are many turkey breast recipes to choose from, including a simple brine like the recipe above or an entirely new and creative take on Thanksgiving turkey. We love this Stuffed Turkey Breasts With Butternut Squash And Figs recipe from SkinnyTaste!
Packed with autumnal flavors, this stuffed turkey breast recipe waters our mouths. Not only does it look beautiful when plated (And you know how much I love a good presentation), but you can forgo a side dish of squash or yams and replace it with a green salad to round out this meal.
Visit Skinnytaste for the full recipe and directions.
For the Health-Conscious:
For some, Thanksgiving feasts can provoke anxiety. Whether on a weight loss journey or a more health-focused path, Thanksgiving can promote unhealthy eating behaviors, but it doesn’t have to! We advise preparing dishes you feel excited about that will nourish you and make this holiday special.
If traditional Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t appeal, there are boneless, skinless options that may better reflect your goals. We also love a quirky twist on a Thanksgiving staple, including this mouth-watering turkey breast and gravy recipe by Cheryl Malik at 40 Aprons!
This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30-approved. You’ll achieve the perfect golden-brown roast with delicious dairy-free herb butter stuffed under the skin. Topped with rich and decadent turkey gravy, this recipe might just be your favorite yet. Pair it with a side of sweet potatoes, and you have yourself a perfect Thanksgiving meal!
Sweet Potatoes or Yams?
Let’s settle an age-old and honestly understandable question. Are sweet potatoes and yams the same? Yes! Yams are a variety of sweet potatoes. So now we have that settled, let’s talk Thanksgiving side dishes you need to try this year.
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
Ambitious Kitchen has done it again with this Lightened Up Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Oat Streusel. This new take on the old sweet potato casserole can be made vegan and gluten-free! When considering healthy versions of old classics, you might think of sacrificing flavor to save on calories, but not always. This healthy casserole relies on cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to pack in the flavor while providing a pleasant, satiating crunch with a topping of rolled oats and pecans.
Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes
When lightening up old Thanksgiving favorites, small substitutions often make the most difference. For example, these Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes created by Yumna Jawad from Feel Good Foodie swap out cream for skim milk, but you can take it one step further with a dairy-free alternative (we love MALK) but keep the butter. As a result, you save on calories (a total of 130 per serving) without sacrificing flavor.
Sweet Potato Fries
Whether you are opting for a Thanksgiving turkey breast or prefer your potatoes in the form of french fries, we love this crispy, air-fried option from Natasha’s Kitchen. Lightly seasoned, this recipe calls for a tiny bit of olive oil to achieve the crunch factor everyone wants out of the perfect fries. Tender on the inside and crunchy on the out, we are big fans of sweet potato fries on our Thanksgiving dinner table!
This Thanksgiving, don’t stress about overwhelming portions, leftovers you don’t know what to do with, or food-related anxieties. Instead, celebrate this holiday with dishes that make you feel good and are a joy to prepare! We hope you find these recipes inspirational and that you find ways to nourish your body and soul this Thanksgiving season.
About the Author: Meet Dr. ZenAlissia Zenhausern- Pfeiffer, NMD, FABNE, (commonly known by her patients as Dr. Zen), is a licensed naturopathic doctor board certified in naturopathic endocrinology and the founder of NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, a premier naturopathic medical practice that focuses on helping women to take a proactive approach to their hormone and fertility health. Dr. Zen has been featured as a lead expert in Forbes, Shape Magazine, and Instyle and is deeply passionate about bridging the gap between traditional and natural medicine in the world of fertility. She works with a variety of hormone related issues including PCOS, endometriosis and unexplained infertility. Her goal is to help more women get back into the driver’s seat of their own health to make lasting transformational changes to their health to bring more cute and adorable babies into this world. Read More About Dr. Zen...