Thanksgiving Makeover: Delicious and Healthy Recipes

The holiday season comes with a slew of guilt. Each dinner you are presented with choices that are steeped in tradition and delicious temptation. It is unnerving for most, and often, in the end, you give over to your desires and fill yourself with dense, rib-sticking foods that are devoid of any nutrition.

Take charge this year and make Thanksgiving your chance to stop the vicious holiday cycle of guilt. Choose foods that enhance your meal, not diminish it. And while this is a time to indulge your tastes, do so in a way that both honors your traditions, and benefits your health. To aid in this, I’ve come up with a few suggestions that take your Thanksgiving feast to the next level.


Get an Organic Turkey

Image used via bonappetit.com

Animals who are brought up in mass farming conditions are mistreated from birth until they are slaughtered. Feed often contains animal byproducts, and poultry are treated with an arsenic based feed to promote a more visually appealing flesh. All of that, and we haven’t even broached the antibiotics that are pumped into animals to ward off diseases which run rampant in these conditions.

Eating meat isn’t wrong, but you must be aware of what has been fed to the animal that is feeding you and your family. Buy from an independent farm, like those in Vermont, who raise turkeys in humane conditions. By grazing in on organic feed and grass, your turkey is more likely to not only be better for you, but actually taste better!

I’ve provided a Free Range Roasted Organic Turkey Recipe, which can help make this Thanksgiving the best yet. Your turkey will be noticeably more tasty, and moist when you follow these directions.

Free Range Roasted Organic Turkey
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 12-16 lbs. free-range turkey
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted organic butter, melted and divided

Preheat oven to 450º F. Combine onion, carrot, celery, garlic, sage, thyme and pepper in a bowl. Mix and set aside. Take turkey from bag and remove neck and giblets from the body cavity. Rinse bird with cold water. Pat cavities lightly with a paper towel and rub neck and body cavities with salt.

Stuff 1/2 of a cup of the vegetable mixture inside neck cavity, and the other half inside of chest cavity. Scatter remaining vegetables in roasting pan. Add water to roasting pan. To secure truss, tie the drumsticks together. Lift wing tips up and over back, tucking them under the bird.

Place turkey in roasting pan and brush with 1/2 of the melted butter. Let roast for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, basting ever 30-45 mins. When the turkey is done, the thickest part of the drumstick will feel soft. If you are using a thermometer, the temperature of the thigh should reach around 150º-160º F.

Start Your Meal Off the Right Way

Image used via seasonsundaylunch.com

As mentioned in my 7 Eating Habits of Healthy & Lean People, eating light to heavy increases digestive function. For a day that celebrates eating, I strongly recommend following this rule. To enjoy the day fully, and eat as meals are served, eat moderately, and start with a light appetizer like my Roasted Butternut Squash Salad. I like to use Bragg’s Organic Vinaigrette Dressing on mine. You could also lay out raw vegetables with some hummus.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash cubes
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • Himalayan Pink salt
  • 2 Tbs. organic butter
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups spinach/arugula
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400º F. Peel and cut butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes, place them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sea salt (to taste). Mix thoroughly, coating squash with oil and salt. Transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, until tender. Remove and let cool.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, stire in brown sugar and pecans. Saute, stirring frequently for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it completely cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, and the remaining olive oil. Add salt and pepper to paste. Combine salad, squash, pecans and cranberries in serving bowl and pour dressing over before tossing.

Make Memorable Side Dishes

Image used via season2seasoneating.com

Mashed potatoes, corn, and cranberry sauce are your typical Thanksgiving sides. While these are very tasty, there are alternatives that taste just as good, but have greater nutritional value. Candied yams seem to be how sweet potatoes make an appearance during Thanksgiving. However, instead of piling on marshmallows, which are often made with gelatin, and massive amounts of sugar, try my Mashed Sweet Potatoes, or Mashed Cauliflower. It’s great to prepare a Fresh Cranberry Sauce, as well, and adds that sweet note to the dinner.

Despite corn’s diverse reputation, it’s a great nutritional addition to your Thanksgiving table, as long as it’s organic. However, if you would like to shake it up a bit, try String Beans with Almonds. The almonds add a wonderful crunchy texture to the snap of this string bean side.

Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons grated ginger root
  • 1/3 cup almond milk, at room temperature
  • 2-3 tablespoons organic butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Cut sweet potatoes into cubes and boil in a pot of water until you can stick a fork through them easily. Whip with remaining ingredients and serve.

Mashed Cauliflower
  • 2 large heads of cauliflower
  • 15 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup organic butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper

Cut apart cauliflower and steam until tender. Steam garlic, as well. Drain cauliflower and then toss in a large bowl with butter, salt, pepper and garlic. Put the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.

String Beans with Almonds
  • 2 lbs. of fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup of cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup of sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Boil beans in a large pot of water until tender. Drain beans and place them in a bowl of ice water. Wait 5 minutes and then drain them. Place aside. Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. stir in half of the thyme and garlic powder . Add string beans and toss until heated completely. Place mixture into a bowl and sprinkle on almonds with the rest of the thyme.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce
  • 12 oz. bag whole cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange
  • 2 Tsp. orange zest
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of liquid stevia

Rinse cranberries and orange. Zest orange and juice. Add juice and stevia to a pot over high heat for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and bring to a boil. Berries will burst, so be sure to cover with a lid, opening to stir every few seconds. Stir in zest. Boil until all of the berries have burst and the mixture is like a chunky soup. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then serve!

Have a Vegetarian Option

Image used via sundaymorningbananapancakes.com

If you’re entertaining company, you’re more often than not going to have a vegetarian guest amongst holiday visitors. A great way to accommodate these guests is with a Hearty Vegetarian Stew. This stew is perfect for the occasion, and can be eaten with some sprouted bread for dipping!

Hearty Vegetarian Stew
  • 3 tsp. cold pressed olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. of Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, chopped
  • 15 oz. organic corn
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz. chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed

Heat two of the teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it starts to brown. Add garlic, coriander, salt and pepper, stirring, for about a minute. Add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil and mushrooms. Stir until the mushrooms are tender (should be about 5 minutes). Add crushed tomatoes and chickpeas to the mixture. Bring to a boil and them reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Sauce will thicken. Serve with your choice of garnish!

Wind Down with a Raw Dessert

Image used via thisrawsomeveganlife.com

Something sweet and savory after a big meal caps the night off perfectly. Before I started being more mindful of my food consumption, I was a big pumpkin pie fan. Pumpkin pie is stuffed with sugar and processed ingredients, and pumpkin puree is often kept in a can that may leak toxins into the mixture over time.

Desserts are a great meal to experiment with raw ingredients. I’ve come up with a delicious Raw Pumpkin Pie recipe that perfectly balances the ratio between rich and sweet, while not filling you up to the point of combustion.

Raw Pumpkin Pie

Crust:

  • 2 cups macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, or any other chosen nuts
  • 1 1/2 cups of dates

Filling:

  • 4 cups of pumpkin meat, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups of banana slices
  • 3/4 cup of raw, organic honey
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

For crust: blend nuts in a food processor. Add dates and blend until mixture is sticky. Try adding some of the honey to get it sticky enough to hold together when pressed with fingers. Mold crust mixture into pie plate until evenly layered.

For filling: Blend filling ingredients on high speed until you have a puree. You may want to add pumpkin to the blender slowly, in order to make sure you don’t burn the blender out. Pour filling into your crust and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.


 

Making sure that your Thanksgiving is successful should include using ingredients that are not only delicious, but also going to give your guests a better idea of how to make a life of sustainable wellness possible, year round. You don’t have to compromise your health during the holiday season, especially with the wealth of resources at your fingertips over the internet, and through this blog.

Have a healthy, and happy Thanksgiving, from me and all of the staff at NY Chiropractic & Physical Therapy.