Ready or not, the Holidays are just around the corner giving us time to honor traditions and celebrate with our best recipes!
The Holidays can be full of fun and celebration, but they can also be difficult for people with food restrictions or those working on building healthy habits. But one thing is true: whether you’re hosting, contributing a side dish, or doing the holiday solo – we can all use a little food inspiration from time to time.
Eating well and in a way that supports your body does not have to be a sacrifice. So if you’re looking to move your Thanksgiving celebration in a healthier direction this year, I’ve put together some of my favorite recipes that will satisfy AND support you feeling good in your body. Some of these I’ve been including on my own table for several years. And some just look and sound pretty dang tasty.
And mom disclosure: If I’m hosting, I focus on one or two dishes from scratch and let people help. I believe in quality over quantity. I believe in letting others contribute. I don’t believe in slaving away for days and making a celebration feel exhausting. I wouldn’t attempt to make one dish from each category, BUT I would take the time to prepare a few dishes from scratch and let others fill in the rest.
OK, here we go!
Sometimes for me, a gathering is all about the appetizers. The variety of foods to choose from is a food lovers delight.
Bacon wrapped dates are a sure crowd pleaser. Salty, sweet and savory wrapped up in one bite!
If you’re a foodie that loves variety and making your own food combinations, a charcuterie board is a great choice and personal favorite.
There’s also nothing wrong with a tried and true veggie tray. To save time, buy one that’s pre-cut and put them on a nice serving platter, BUT if you go this route level up and sub out the processed Ranch dips that are full of inflammatory oils and gut damaging preservatives and make your own from this recipe or buy my favorite.
A fun easy idea could be Spicy Roasted Cashews which you could make a day or two in advance.
If this is your first time hosting, the turkey doesn’t have to be stressful or hard. Here’s a great jumping off point to get you moving in the right direction.
If you’re a bit more seasoned (pun intended) and in charge of the bird this year, have you tried spatchcoking yet? Spatch what?! It’s a method of preparing a bird (usually a chicken) resulting in a shorter cooking time. It’s also known as butterflying, but spatchcocking is a whole lot more fun to say. Head over to Nom Nom Paleo’s website where she takes you through it step by step with pictures.
If you’re a minimalist, don’t worry I got you covered. This Classic Roasted Turkey is sure to be the perfect centerpiece for any Thanksgiving feast.
If you’re doing a brine (I recommend this step, but some people don’t feel it’s worth the effort and if you’ve never done one – there’s only one way to find out!) you’ll need to plan this a day or two ahead of time and make sure you have room in your refrigerator), here is a fantastic sugar free option.
For a dry brine, try this one.
And of course I didn’t forget the gravy. This Easy Paleo Gravy from 40 Aprons is gluten, grain, and dairy free but just as full of flavor as any traditional one!
Skip the canned version which is full of high fructose corn syrup and loaded with refined sugar. It’s so easy to make your own and can be done a day or two in advance. It’s so much easier than you think, and the canned version will never taste the same again.
Danille Walker’s Cranberry Sauce is the best ever! I make it every year because it’s that good. It’s sweetened with honey and orange juice. No refined sugar. Just make it. Trust me on this.
For another great cranberry sauce version, you could whip up Nom Nom Paleo’s Paleo Cran Cherry Sauce. Instead of oranges she uses cherries and apple juice.
If you’re gluten-free or grain-free, that’s no reason to skip the stuffing. There are plenty of options out there that use sausage instead of bread and includes things like apples, mushrooms, cauliflower and herbs.
I’ve made Low Carb and Lovin’ Sausage and Herb Stuffing for every Thanksgiving I’ve ever hosted. The leftovers are fantastic for breakfast the next day topped with a couple of fried eggs.
But Zen Belly’s Best Ever Paleo Stuffing looks like a pretty savory dressing too!
The fall food bounty is endless, and there’s no better way to bring them to life with a variety of side dishes. In no particular order here are some mouth watering sides sure to please the guests who hate on healthier versions of their favorite dishes. You know the ones who love to roll their eyes and judge “healthy food” before they’ve even tried it.
One Lovely Life’s Sweet Potato Casserole
If you need cooktop space, try making Mashed Potatoes in your Instant Pot.
Looking for a dairy free potato dish, these Scalloped Potatoes with Mushrooms and Rosemary look mouthwatering!
Try a spin on the traditional green bean casserole with this Green Bean Gremolata
These Best Ever Brussel Sprouts will be a crowd pleaser and you will want to make this again and again.
I know salads are also a side dish, but I think they deserve a spot on everyone’s plate.
This Hearty Sweet Potato, Arugula + Wild Rice Salad checks all the boxes!
And this Kale and Persimmon salad screams fall!
Finally, dessert. I wont lie, making paleo desserts can take a bit more planning. You need to have the right ingredients on hand and might make a couple more dirty dishes and have an extra step or two, BUT the result of not feeling achy and inflamed from eating too much processed sugar and gluten is worth it!
For the pumpkin crowd:
Serving Pumpkin Spice Biscotti Cookies with a cup of hot coffee post would be a fun ending to a delicious meal.
I’m not someone who goes crazy over pumpkin (I can take it or leave it), but this year I’ll be making this Paleo Pumpkin Custard.
If you want to be brave and attempt your hand at a grain free, gluten free, dairy free pumpkin pie from scratch, don’t attempt using any other recipe but this one.
If you’ve never heard of some of the ingredients included in these recipes, you can find them at my go-to grocery store, Thrive Market. This is where I buy all my baking supplies and pantry staples!
Some final thoughts on Holidays and Celebrations that center around food. Nobody should ever shame you or make you feel bad about what you choose to eat or how you choose to nourish your body. Trust me, I’ve been eating counter-culturally for years and people can get real weird about other people’s food habits. Know it’s never about you, it’s always about them.
If someone gives you a hard time because you’re passing on certain things, simply say “I feel better when I don’t eat <insert food>”. You should be proud of your choice to prioritize yourself in this way. If someone can’t understand or appreciate that, maybe it’s time to find a new table.
Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Tell me what you’re making this year! What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?