A Complete Thanksgiving Dinner Makeover (With Recipes)

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As the traditional kickoff to the holiday season, Thanksgiving can set the tone for a delicious, but healthy holiday. Yes that’s right, Thanksgiving can be yummy and still have healthy dishes! Check out these easy swaps from the traditional to healthier choices…you won’t miss anything. That is, besides excessive bloating and weight gain!

Unhealthy Appetizer: Cheese and crackers

Cheese and crackers are not only high in fat and calories, as well as difficult to digest dairy and gluten.

Healthy Substitution: Nut pate and veggie sticks.

I love Mary’s Gone Gluten-Free Crackers, and this healthy macadamia nut and sun-dried tomato pate is also a favorite. It’s high in healthy omega-3 vs omega-6 fats (which we consume too much of), and a great start to any Thanksgiving dinner.

Unhealthy Main Dish: Deep fried turkey.

Deep-fried turkey has grown increasingly popular as a Thanksgiving main dish. Unfortunately, it’s high in fat. If you buy that turkey at the grocery store, chances are it is also non-organic.

Healthy Substitution: Organic, free-range turkey.

A little turkey on Thanksgiving is okay if you eat animal protein, but don’t overdo it. Have a small serving of white meat (skip the skin), and then fill up on delicious vegetable side dishes.

Unhealthy Side: Candied sweet potatoes

Candied sweet potatoes are loaded with butter and sugar – neither which will contribute to your overall good health

Healthy Substitution:  Thyme roasted sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C. They also don’t raise your blood sugar. To make thyme roasted sweet potatoes:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Peel and cube a few sweet potatoes.
  3. Toss potatoes with two teaspoons of coconut oil, some minced garlic, and some fresh thyme leaves.
  4. Arrange in a single layer in a baking pan and roast for about 40 minutes, until the potatoes are slightly browned.
  5. Toss with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Unhealthy Side Dish: Green bean casserole

Laden with dairy, fried onions, fat, and salt, this casserole turns healthy veggies into unhealthy fare.

Healthy Substitution: Green beans with red peppers

Double up on these low-fat, healthy, and colorful veggies. To make them, use the following recipe.

Green beans with red peppers

  • 1 pound of green beans, stemmed and trimmed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
  1. Parboil beans in boiling water until they are bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
  2. Heat coconut oil over medium high heat in a sauté pan.
  3. Saute peppers until they begin to soften, about one minute.
  4. Add beans and cook another minute.
  5. Add garlic and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.
  6. Season with pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

Unhealthy Side: Mashed potatoes and gravy

This side dish is high in fat, and can spike blood sugar because the potatoes are so starchy.

Healthy Substitution: Roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower is a great substitute for potatoes, and it has a delicious, nutty flavor when roasted. To roast cauliflower:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Brake one head of cauliflower into small florets.
  3. Place florets in a single layer in a baking pan.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn cauliflower over.
  5. Return to the oven and roast for another 20 minutes, until florets are browned and can be pierced with a fork easily.
  6. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast to give a cheesy taste, if desired.

Unhealthy Dessert: Pumpkin pie with whipped cream

Dairy, sugar, and fat turn a really healthy ingredient (pumpkin) into a sugar, fat, and dairy laden health nightmare.

Healthy Substitution: Raw pecan love pie.

This pie is sweet, healthy, and delicious. It contains healthful raw nuts, and it’s the perfect way to end a delicious and healthy Thanksgiving meal.

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33 Responses to “A Complete Thanksgiving Dinner Makeover (With Recipes)

  1. Kimberly, are the giblets and neck okay to use if I want to make a homemade gravy? Or even better, do you have a recipe for gravy?

    Thank you!

  2. Wish there was info on vegetable protein a bit more eg: what does a new vegetarian eat to get all her protien in on thanks giving??? (as my family have chosen to celebrate it in the Uk, and alwasy do) if I cant eat tofu i really dont know what to eat. Meat is EVERYWHERE and vegetarian protien/ meat replacements sooo expensive : -/

    Would appreciate the help when you have time, thanks :)

    Ps: love your blog and recipies xxx

    • There’s enough protein in the dark leafy veggies, also you could use vegan protein powder. I thought the same thing when I started a year ago but I was able to get all the info I needed to make an informed decision.

  3. Hello Kimberly,
    I was wondering your opinion o having for dinner hazelnuts? Can this be combined with currant raisins for a sweet craving? Or are raisins a big No No? I am trying to loose weight fast also, so should I limit the amounts as well? How much?

    I started having my the GGS and LOVE IT! Is it ok If a have it as breakfast and dinner?

    Thank you for this fabulous site and your tips to a healthier life.

    Warm reagrds,

    Sofia

  4. Hey Kim,

    I have been a vegan ever since I read your book and I am so satisfied with all of the changes I have been seeing in my looks and energy level! I was just wondering your age because you look great, like you should be in your early twenties?

  5. Kimberly,
    I just started the beauty detox about 1 week ago. I’m in the blossoming beauty phase (so no GGS for me just yet). I felt good for the first few days, but for the past two days I have been having dull upper abdominal pain and indigestion after everything that I eat. I never used to have this problem before. Is this a normal side effect of the detox, or should I be concerned?

  6. I was so thrilled to see this post two nights before Thanksgiving that I pretty much made it my menu. My family tends to follow my lead (vegan eating), though they did request turkey this year (even after forgoing meat for so long), which luckily was made by one of our guests who brought it in. We did end up cooking some yuca (per my grandmother’s suggestion) and used the chuncks to decorate (around) the green beans with peppers in a large white bowl. I used brown rice tamari seaweed crackers in addition to Mary’s Gone (for variety) in the macademia sundried tomato mesh. Overall these dishes make an awesome combination for a complete Thanksgiving meal that I might just have to repeat before the year ends. Thank you Kimberly, for all that you do! XOXO P.S. I’ve been making your sweet potatoes (Italian, Ganesha) on a weekly basis since your first book came out.

  7. Kimberly,
    I also have been wanting to ask and since Christmas is approaching, when is your yoga DVD coming out and what is the title of it?
    Thank you! :)

  8. Hi Kimberly

    I am a really bad eczema suffer and this year seems to have been a whole lot worst than I can ever remember getting little to no relief between seasons. I have always felt that my eczema was triggered by my environment not my diet but now I am starting to wonder. Are there specific foods that can be attributed to the inflammation and which foods would you suggest might help. My mother tells me that she tried eliminating different foods from my diet when i was very young, but i realise that there are always different schools of thought with regards to these types of allergies. The constant irritation is really driving me nuts, I would appreciate any advice.

    Belinda

    • Hi Belinda,
      Probiotics (from foods like P & E Salad and supplements) are important to build up your immunity and your system in general. Try eliminating common allergens, particularly dairy, wheat and soy, and see if that helps. I know the Beauty Detox has helped several of my clients with eczema- try following my suggestions and also add in positive replacements, particularly the GGS. xx

  9. Hi Kimberly. Can you please address the topic of combining fruits and vegetables? Is it ok to mix fruits and vegetables in a smoothîe? I’ve always been advised that fruit digest much more quickly and should not be mixed w vegetables… Your thoughts please?? Thank you!

  10. Hi kimberly

    If unable to find gravity centered colonics in my area, should I forgo colonics altogether? All I can find locally is the hydrosan machine, which does not seem to be gravity centered. What are your thoughts?
    thanks thanks
    Your book changed my life!!
    B

    • Hi Betsy,
      Thank you! Wonderful, I am so happy to hear that and happy for your positive changes.

      I would get a good enema kit and use it regularly. Where do you live? There are great places in NYC if you travel there as well.
      Keep up the great work! xx

  11. Kimberly,
    Thank you for posting this! I was not looking forward to the food at all my different Thanksgiving gatherings this year- especially when people ask if I can bring green bean casserole and pies. Now I can say “No, (politely), but I can bring a green bean dish or salad or a raw pecan pie!” They might be skeptical but once they taste it I am sure they will want more.
    All these recipes sound delicous! God’s blessings on your Thanksgiving!

  12. Thank you in advance for some great recipes. I will be trying the cauliflower, green beans, and sweet potatoes. I know they will be yummy.

    Do have a great “Giving of Thanks” Day.

    Randy

    • Thanks Randy. I really enjoyed being out here in the warmth; it was a different kind of Thanksgiving. Hope you had a wonderful day! xx

  13. Hi Kim!

    I love to have fruit as a snack in the evening.. i know it’s not good as a dessert, but is it ok if i wait for a while? Like an hour or so after dinner before i eat it?

    LOVE your blog!

    • Hi Natalie,
      Thank you and welcome!
      If you can wait a few hours after dinner (depending on what you eat), that would be ideal. You can eat dinner earlier though to time it best! xx

  14. Thank you so much Kimberly! Is it okay to have the sweet potatoes and then your Raw Pecan Pie Love, in regards to combining? Thank you for reminding us to give thanks to the natural ways of life and our bodies and how to live holistically with the universe :) Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    Love,
    Alexandra

    • Hi Alexandra,
      Sorry this is a bit belated. :)
      On Tgiving I feel everyone poorly combines! In a perfect world you would have the sweet potatoes, then have the Pecan Pie after a break of a few hours. But on holidays take a few digestive enzymes, and I say enjoy! xx

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