I’ve collected a bunch of my favorite Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes for you. You’ll find vegan and gluten-free appetizers, main dishes, side dishes and desserts…..all that taste great and are easy to make.
This post has been edited from the original post published on November 20, 2017.
Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup
As a child, I always loved Thanksgiving. We went to my Aunts house where there were loads of cousins to play with and my Grandmother always did the bulk of the cooking. I remember it fondly as a day that wasn’t rushed. Grandma made chopped liver (it was the “real deal” but I now make this vegan version and it is super tasty), and the adults sat around in the living room telling stories and laughing away the afternoon while we ran around having a great time, stopping in to steal a nosh and hear some of the grown-up talk from time to time.
It’s been many years since I have been able to spend a Thanksgiving at Aunt Helen’s but I try to create the same chilled vibe that was always present at her house. The key is to plan your menu, get organized, create a time-line, delegate (yes, ask family and friends for help), and be prepared for your guests to show up hungry. Many people try to “save up” for the big meal, and in doing so, arrive HANGRY. Stick to your timeline. Have some healthy appetizers available to snack on….so your guests can spend some quality time together relaxing. There is no rush.
As a health coach I see what a mine field Thanksgiving can be for some to negotiate. Emotional triggers with family drama can lead to over indulging and then negative self talk and a vicious cycle that begins anew. Here is something I wrote about avoiding holiday fatigue, and another about creating Healthy Habits for the Holiday season to create less stress and make room for more joy. They have helped many, and I hope it will help you too!
Healthy Appetizers for Thanksgiving
The most popular recipe on my site is stuffed mushrooms. If you’ve ever tasted them, you’ll know why! You don’t have to tell anyone they’re vegan and gluten-free…and they’ll never guess, they’re so delicious.
If you’re looking for something simple to put out, consider this roasted cauliflower hummus It’s nutrient dense….low in calories, high on nutrition and also low in carbs….for those saving up for the more traditional Thanksgiving stuff.
White bean dip is another great choice for Thanksgiving. It can be made in advance, looks awesome on a platter, and it’s fun! See if you can get some of your younger guests to help insert the veggies!
No plate needed for these fun little vegan meatballs. Tasty sweet and sour sauce will assure these gluten-free appetizers are gobbled up!
Healthy Salads for Thanksgiving
I always serve several salads at Thanksgiving. There are those that want to save all their room for the main event (aka: stuffing and pie), but it’s possible to have some tasty veggies that will help with digestion and nutrition and still have room for the other stuff too. If you put out beautiful salads and veggies, they’ll be able to compete with the heavy stuff on the buffet….remember, we eat with our eyes first!
A great choice is a simple, yet seasonal salad like this butternut squash salad. You can make all the components in advance and assemble at the last minute.
If your family loves Caesar Salad, then Thanksgiving isn’t the time to deny them. Use this recipe for vegan caesar dressing…..light and delicious…and oh so tasty too!
Or, consider this harvest salad. The dressing is simple, but so flavorful, it’s a wonderful addition to a healthy thanksgiving table.
If you’ve been invited someplace, bring a healthy salad that is also beautiful. You will wow your hostess and the other guests will thank you.
I’ve been making this grain-free tabbouleh for years….always to rave reviews. Your craving for carbs will be satisfied without using any gluten or even grains! Riced cauliflower and riced broccoli make up the bulk of this dish while the fresh herbs add to the nutritional value and the flavor. Grain-free tabbouleh can easily be prepped ahead…in fact it tastes better as the components have time to merge.
One of the most beautiful salad recipes you’ll find is this roasted veggie salad. I would omit the lentils for Thanksgiving, as there’s so much going on, you may not need a salad that’s so hearty.
Healthy Side Dishes for Thanksgiving
In our house, it’s not Thanksgiving if there isn’t stuffing! This vegan and gluten-free dressing is hands down the best cornbread stuffing out there.
Because we eat with our eyes first……make sure the healthy options are STUNNING like this balsamic roasted root veggies. This is also a great idea when you want to consolidate and not make too many things….you’re covered in taste, nutrition, color, beauty, variety…..the list of virtues for this recipe is endless.
Brussels sprouts are a traditional Thanksgiving veggie because they are in season right now. My favorite way to enjoy brussels sprouts, is sweet and spicy, followed closely by this brussels sprouts slaw.
It is hard to plan a healthy menu for Thanksgiving when there are so many traditional dishes that are expected every year. Sometimes the best way to insert more health into the holiday is to revamp some old favorites and make them healthier. Mashed potatoes are no exception. Use this recipe as a guide and try adding in some other white veggies to your batch this year.
Don’t forget to offer some variety in veggies. Just because I love brussels sprouts, I realize that not everybody else does….but they still may want some healthy choices. Try this recipe for broccoli with miso dressing. Absolutely delish…plus it actually tastes better the next day so when you’re looking for something less gluttonous and rich with fiber you’ll have something at the ready!!
An assortment of root veggies adds nutrition to traditional mashed potatoes.
I like to add a bit of color to an otherwise drab assortment on the buffet. I highly recommend these roasted carrots with oranges to brighten things up. It’s both nutritious and delicious plus it’s pretty!
Main Meal Vegan Options
Knowing your audience (eaters) is so important. Make sure, if you are having guests that are vegan or gluten-free…..or if you’re going to someone else’s house, but vegan is important to you….that YOU MAKE A RECIPE that they’ll be able to eat. I can’t stress this enough. Holidays (really, ANY DAY) are not the time for anyone to feel singled out.
Stuffed Butternut Squash is an easy recipe that can be made ahead. Gorgeous presentation too! Look for the mini honeynut squash and each person can have their own!
Another great option for a vegan and/or gluten-free crowd is this “No Beef” stew. Guests will feel super spoiled with the rich flavor and hearty, filling stew.
Stuffed Cabbage is delicious, hearty and totally screams holiday meal! A great choice…and I have tons of tips and trick for you to make this easy recipe.
Healthy Desserts for Thanksgiving
Let’s talk cranberry sauce for just a second….this recipe for almond thumbprint cookies uses a cranberry chia jam that I served last year in place of the cranberry sauce that I usually serve. A total hit. We actually ran out!! I suggest making a double batch of the jam so you can make the cookies too. They are Ah-mazing!!
Nutritious and Delicious Gluten-free Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Cranberry Chia jam….aka cranberry sauce!!
Is it even Thanksgiving if there isn’t any pumpkin pie? These mini pies are not only adorable…but they’re so delicious, and also vegan and gluten-free.They check off all the boxes!!
I like to have at least one decadent choice on the dessert table. Checkout this chocolate pie with pecan crust. Seriously, dessert can be tasty and healthy too……and you don’t even have to tell them how nutritious it is!
If you’re looking for a more traditional Thanksgiving dessert, this apple galette is always a winner…….and so much less fussy than making a pie.
The Thanksgiving meal wouldn’t be complete without an over the top selection of desserts……I have no shortage of ideas for delicious desserts that just happen to be healthy….like these tahini brownies….YUM.
Whatever you decide to make, just know that it’s going to be great. Make a reasonable plan and stick to it. Have confidence that it is ENOUGH, that YOU ARE ENOUGH……you don’t need to make more and more and more….until you are too overwhelmed and exhausted to enjoy being with family and friends.
As an adult I still love everything about Thanksgiving (including the cooking) but I am careful remain true to my goal of creating a relaxed environment where I am able to be present to all of the blessings around me….including the gift of time with my loved ones. Wishing you a holiday filled with love and light, good food, and plenty of time to soak it all in.