8 Thanksgiving Recipes with a Healthy Twist

Bowl of healthy cranberry sauce

Thanksgiving Recipes

The spirit of Thanksgiving is family, friends, love, inclusion, gratitude, and, last but not least, fabulous food!

Thanksgiving is my favorite, and I’m sure it is a favorite for many of you as well! Because regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, Thanksgiving is about us coming together for a delicious meal. It is about us being surrounded by the people we love, to celebrate family and friendship. The only downside to this holiday is the danger of experiencing a Thanksgiving “food coma.” That dreaded food coma is caused by overindulgence in the traditional unhealthy Thanksgiving recipes. I’m here to tell you that your feast doesn’t have to leave you feeling stuffed like a turkey!

It’s no secret, but many people forget that if you stick with fresh whole foods, you’ll notice there are many nutrient-rich food ingredients in traditional Thanksgiving recipes. These wholesome foods won’t trigger your body to divert massive energy and blood flow to aid digestion after your feast – which will help you avoid that dreaded Thanksgiving Food Coma.

Over the years, along with my friends and family, we’ve taken traditional recipes and omitted ingredients that tax the digestive system and then replaced them with nutritious ingredients that taste amazing and help you stay healthy!

Here are 8 traditional Thanksgiving recipes with a healthy twist — to keep you energized so you can stay engaged in the festivities and enjoy the company of your family and friends all day long:

Pomegranate & Walnut Antioxidant-Rich Salad

Dr. Trevor Cates
This salad is a great way to start your Thanksgiving meal. It is delicious, light, and full of flavorful nutrients!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 4


  • 6 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 cup fresh or dried (no sugar added) organic blueberries
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • ½ cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tbsp balsamic or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ground pepper and a pinch of salt (to taste)
  • fresh oregano, basil, or other herbs of choice


  • Place greens, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts in a large bowl. Mix vinegar, pomegranate juice, mustard, salt, and pepper with a wire whisk until well blended. Add oil, whisking until well blended. Pour over salad, add fresh herbs, and toss to coat with dressing. Serve immediately.
Keyword antioxidants, healthy, salad

Mom’s Rad Sweet Potato Casserole

Gwen Cates
I'm thankful my mom got rid of the marshmallow-topped sweet potato recipe and created a healthier Thanksgiving family favorite!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 4 people


  • 6 large sweet potatoes or yams
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tangerine divided into segments
  • ½ cup coconut milk


  • 1 cup dried shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp grass-fed butter or coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup


  • Boil sweet potatoes in a large pot of water. Drain and slide skins off of potatoes. Mash in a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Place in coconut oil-greased casserole dish. Spread topping over sweet potato mixture.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until warm and the topping is lightly toasted.
Keyword healthy

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Dr. Trevor Cates
Cranberries are antioxidant-rich, but they're so sour! This naturally sweetened version will reduce the blood sugar spike, and the spices add a unique, delicious take on an old holiday favorite!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 4 people


  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, all-spice, and/or cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey (or stevia as a substitute)


  • In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, pineapple juice, honey, applesauce, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick and nutmeg.
  • Stir to blend and simmer until some of the cranberries start to burst and some remain whole. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.
Keyword antioxidants

Lemon & Dill Green Beans

Dr. Trevor Cates
Throw out the canned green beans w/cream of mushroom soup casserole recipe! This bright dish is a refreshing alternative to any green bean casserole. The lemon and dill vinaigrette is a natural complement to green beans – and it's delicious at any temperature: hot, room temp, or even cold!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Course Appetizer
Servings 4 people


  • 1 pound green beans, cut & prepped
  • 3-4 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
  • ¼ tsp Celtic or Himalayan salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper


  • Bring about an inch of water to boil in a large saucepan (preferably fitted with a steamer basket). Add green beans, cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes (until tender/crisp).
  • In the meantime, whisk dill, shallot, oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the green beans and toss to coat. Let stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving to enhance flavor.
Keyword healthy

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Dr. Trevor Cates
This soup is an excellent complement to green beans and mashed potatoes – It's also great for leftovers since it stores well and it's easy to reheat and enjoy!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 4 people


  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup thinly sliced carrot
  • ¼ – ½ tsp ground cumin Celtic or Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups free-range chicken stock
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk


  • Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the squash and cut into 1-inch pieces. In a large pot, heat coconut oil, and onion over medium heat. Add and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook for a minute, and then add squash and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and puree the soup with a hand blender or food processor. Return to heat, add the coconut milk, and season to taste.


Dr. Trevor Cates
The secret is the apple — apple reduces the bitterness that many people associate with Brussels sprouts, and the pomegranate seeds add an extra festive touch that is delicious!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 4 people


  • 1 pint Brussels sprouts, cleaned and left whole
  • 1 small apple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts, apple, and oil together. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper; spread apple-Brussels sprouts mixture evenly. Roast uncovered for 20 minutes and then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Garlic Mashed “Potatoes”

Dr. Trevor Cates
Mashed potatoes are a delicious addition to the traditional holiday menu. Still, they cause a spike in blood sugar, followed by a crash, and contribute to the dreaded Thanksgiving Food Coma. This creamy mashed garlic cauliflower recipe is utterly delicious (and if you can believe it) and better than mashed potatoes!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 4 people


  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk or grass-fed milk
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp grass-fed butter
  • ½ tsp fresh chives
  • Celtic or Himalayan salt and pepper to taste


  • Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Steam or boil until cooked but not overdone. Drain well. Add oil, milk, and seasonings, then puree with a hand blender or food processor. Blend until it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes. Garnish with butter and chives. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Pie (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Organic)

It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the pumpkin pie. So, drop the guilt, and enjoy a yummy slice of this healthier lower-sugar option. Add a dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream to top it off!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 4 people


  • ¼ – ½ cup raw sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Celtic or Himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 large organic free-range eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) organic unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 unbaked organic, gluten-free 9-inch deep-dish pie shell


  • Preheat oven to 425, combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat eggs, after that stir in pumpkin and sweetener mixture. Gradually stir in coconut milk and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce the temperature to 350, and bake for an additional 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Do you have a favorite healthy holiday recipe you’d like to share? Please feel free to add the recipe (or a link to it) in the comments below.

In great gratitude to you all, I wish you a very Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!

Read More From Dr. Trevor Cates

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