Halloween might be the holiday that kicks off the unhealthy part of the year, but Thanksgiving is definitely the crowning event. It’s a feast made up of not just one, not just two, but a multitude of overly-rich foods (that somehow pair together perfectly). We all tend to overeat, me included!
It’s a great, glorious event, but the aftermath doesn’t always feel as good. And as I have found after preparing Thanksgiving for 20 or more people for the last 30 years, times are a changing. I now have vegetarians at my table, as well as friends with a variety of food sensitivities including gluten and dairy. So, I’ve opted for healthier options for my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, keeping everyone in mind.
I don’t want people to have to skip the stuffing or the pie. I’m not even suggesting that you leave the sugar out of your cranberry sauce. I just want you to consider a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipe rehabs – trust me, no one will notice. (Well, they might wonder where the marshmallows went on top of the sweet potato casserole…)
The four recipes below will guide you in a healthier direction this year ― without sacrificing any flavor.
Green Bean Casserole
This ultra-creamy whole foods version of the classic green bean casserole tastes so decadent that you’ll never guess it’s dairy and guilt-free!
- ½ cup raw cashews (soaked in water overnight, so start the night before)
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 3 T. whole grain bread crumbs (can substitute gluten-free bread crumbs)
- 3 T. oat flour
- 2½ tsp. salt (divided)
- 2 lbs. frozen cut green beans
- 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2- 10 oz. packages sliced mushrooms, chopped
- ⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 T. Tamari soy sauce
- ¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Blend soaked cashews with almond milk in a blender or food processor until completely smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 475°F.
- Place sliced onions, bread crumbs, flour and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl, tossing to combine. Be sure to separate each individual onion piece.
- Spread onions in an even layer on a baking sheet covered with foil and sprayed with organic cooking spray. Spray onions once again with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, tossing halfway through. Once onions are done cooking, remove from oven and lower oven heat to 350°F for the casserole.
- Bring a large pot with two inches of water to a boil. Once boiling add green beans. Bring back to a boil and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and run cold water over green beans to stop cooking. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add diced onion. Cook for five minutes and then add garlic and mushrooms. Cook for another ten minutes, stirring often.
- Add nutmeg, soy sauce, broth, 1½ tsp salt, and pepper. Simmer for about five minutes.
- Stir in cashew cream and ¼ of the baked onions. Stir in cooked green beans.
- Spread mixture into a large casserole dish. Top with remaining baked onions. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Who needs marshmallows?
- 5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 T. packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
- Organic Cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mist an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
- Fill a pot with water and add sweet potatoes, cover and boil until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the potatoes to a bowl, and let cool slightly. Add the honey, egg, ½ tsp. cinnamon, the nutmeg, ginger and ½ tsp. salt; whip with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Spread the sweet potato mixture in the prepared baking dish.
- Mix the brown sugar, pecans, and the remaining ½ tsp. cinnamon in a bowl; sprinkle over the potatoes. Bake until hot and beginning to brown around the edges, 40 to 45 minutes.
A homemade alternative to store bought cranberry sauce with delicious hints of pineapple and orange to complement the flavor!
- 2 bags of fresh cranberries (they are usually 12 oz. bags, so about 24 oz.)
- ¾ cup pineapple juice or orange juice (I recommend pineapple!)
- ½ cup of applesauce (no sugar added)
- ½ cup of water
- juice and zest of one orange
- 3-4 T. of honey or to taste (optional)
- Put cranberries, pineapple juice, applesauce and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
- Keep on medium heat, stirring constantly until the cranberries start to explode (about 10-15 minutes).
- Reduce to a simmer and pour the orange juice and zest over the cranberry mixture.
- Simmer 10-15 minutes more and remove from heat.
- Cool completely and store in fridge at least 4 hours but preferably overnight before serving.
NOTE: This is not as sweet as store versions! Taste at the end of cooking. It is naturally sweet from the fruit juice and applesauce but you can add more honey or stevia to taste if needed.
This is a totally grain-free pie crust using cassava flour- easily found on Amazon, Thrive Market or in your health food store.
For the crust:
- ¾ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup cassava flour
- ¾ cup arrowroot starch
- 1 T. maple sugar or date sugar (optional)
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup cold water
- Refrigerate the coconut oil for at least 20 minutes, until well-chilled.
- In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, cassava flour, and arrowroot starch with a fork or whisk. (Really sift through it all to get out any lumps.)
- Add the sugar (if using), cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and mix again.
- Cut the cold coconut oil into dice-size cubes, add to the flour mixture along with the cold water, and mix until a dough forms. You can do this with a fork, or use a food processor to process quickly, until the mixture resembles large crumbs.
- Once everything is combined, gather up the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- If you are accustomed to pie-crust dough that you roll out, know that this is not like that. This dough is better for pressing into the pie pan. Get your hands wet and work the dough into a smooth shape. Put it in an 8- or 9-inch pie or tart pan and press down to cover the bottom and sides. Keep wetting your hands and working it. There are no mistakes here. Just get it in there as well as you can and it will taste great.
Makes 1 crust
- 1 (15-ounce) can organic pumpkin purée
- ¼ cup full-fat canned coconut milk
- ¼ cup real maple syrup
- Splash of fresh orange juice
- 1 T. plus 1 tsp. arrowroot starch
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- 4 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pre-bake the crust for about 10-12 minutes, until warm and firm. This crust won’t brown, but it will still be pre-baked. Let sit for a few minutes to cool. Keep the oven on.
- Combine all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a spoon or hand mixer.
- Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the pie shell. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the pie is somewhat firm to the touch (it will get firmer as it cools). This is a grain-free crust, so it won’t brown. (But if you’d like to brown it slightly, rub some coconut oil or nondairy butter around the edges of the crust when there are 10 minutes of baking time to go, but watch carefully because you don’t want it to burn.) Let the pie sit for 25 minutes. I like to place it in the refrigerator to really firm up and cool—for that familiar pumpkin pie texture. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Pick and choose a few new recipes to try with your family this year! Home-made is always better…. Happy Thanksgiving!