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Healthy Thanksgiving: 23 Fall-Inspired Recipes

Special OccasionsRobyn Downs2 Comments

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love spending time with friends and family, hanging out, playing games, watching football, and of course—eating! I’ve hosted Thanksgiving nearly every year since I was 22 and take the planning very seriously. It can be overwhelming though, especially if you’re trying to find some healthy options amidst all the decadence and tradition.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

To help plan your perfect holiday meal, I’ve put together some of my favorite healthy real food Thanksgiving recipes. Below you’ll find links to recipes for drinks and snacks; turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce; veggie sides; stuffing and such; salads; and desserts. After you’ve read this post, follow me on Pinterest and check out my Real Food Thanksgiving board for more inspiration.

When it comes to turkey day, I try to keep snacks on the light side so people don’t fill up before the big meal. Then we usually have a signature cocktail, wine, beer, and a non-alcoholic option as well. I make a deconstructed roast turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, plus one or two veggie sides, a salad, and a dessert or two. There are so many great options it’s going to be hard to choose. What will you be making?

Drinks and Snacks

Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer from A House in the Hills

A picture perfect holiday cocktail. I’d probably skip the sugar, since the pomegranate juice would make it sweet enough for me. These would be fun and festive even without the alcohol.

Pumpkin Infused Vodka from The Year in Food

Start infusing vodka this week and it will be ready in time for your holiday meal. Who wouldn’t love this sophisticated take on a pumpkin drink?

Pomegranate Orange Sangria from Completely Delicious

This sangria has so many great wintry flavors— pomegranate, cranberry, citrus, and cinnamon. Plus the colors are gorgeous. The brandy is a fun addition too, it helps to add sweetness, but with a little depth. And you can make it ahead of time. Bonus!

Turkey, Gravy, and Cranberry Sauce

Deconstructed Holiday Turkey with Sage Gravy from Epicurious

I started roasting our turkey this way years ago and will never go back to roasting the entire bird. Sometimes I do the brine, and sometimes I skip it--either way the results are super tasty. Call ahead and ask your butcher to cut the turkey into pieces for you.

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast from Ina Garten

If you have a smaller crowd consider just roast the turkey breasts. This recipe is a winner every time.

Gravy Tutorial from Our Best Bites

I usually leave the gravy making to my mom since it’s her favorite. Here’s a good tutorial to get you on your way to perfect gravy, mom’s way.

Gluten Free Gravy from Serious Eats

Sweet rice flower is the secret to this lovely gluten free gravy.

Bourbon Vanilla Cranberry Sauce from Eat Live Run

Bourbon, vanilla, and cranberry? Yes, please. I might substitute maple syrup for the white sugar in equal amounts.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce from Nutrition Stripped

Pomegranates and cranberries combine beautifully in this sauce made without refined sugar.

Veggie Sides

Delicata, Brussels Sprouts & Hazelnut Salad with Cider Vinaigrette from Dishing Up the Dirt

You can’t go wrong with a big plate of simply roasted veggies, dressed with a bright vinaigrette and topped with crunchy hazelnuts.

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Root Veggies from Eat Live Run

Simple, sweet, and savory, a pan of roasted root veggies hits all the right notes. Plus, the stunning colors will take the visual appeal of the meal to another level.

Maple Pecan Butternut Squash from Civilized Caveman Cooking

Bright yellow butternut squash combines with sweet maple and crunchy pecans in this decadent side.

Green Beans with Cranberries, Bacon, and Goat Cheese from Running in the Kitchen

There’s so much flavor in this green bean side it may be the most popular dish of the entire meal.

Vegan Green Bean Casserole from Eat the Love

Skip the can of soup, please. This version is so much tastier. Plus it’s gluten free and vegan.

Cranberry Orange Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Two Peas and Their Pod

If you’re looking for one last side dish to make for your Thanksgiving feast, make these sprouts. Roasted to crispy perfection, these will make everyone love Brussels sprouts.

Stuffing and Such

Quinoa Stuffing from Family Fresh Cooking

Filled with fruits and nuts, this quinoa stuffing also just happens to be gluten free.

Honey Wheat Clover Leaf Rolls from Simply Scratch

Is your holiday meal incomplete without a warm roll served on the side? You may want to try these honey scented whole wheat rolls.


Messaged Kale Salad with Apple and Pomegranate from A Couple Cooks

I love the colors of this verdant green and red salad. Messaging kale makes it tender and more palatable than the un-massaged version.

Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad from Crème de la Crumb

An easy side dish to throw together at the last minute, adding some fresh greens to your holiday table.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Pomegranate and Arugula Salad from Cookie + Kate

A vibrant salad featuring delicata squash, pomegranate, arugula, pepitas and feta tossed in a maple balsamic vinaigrette. Reserve the dressing on the side until you are ready to serve for a make ahead option.


Pumpkin Pie Mousse from barre3

This mousse hits all the pumpkin pie notes, but it’s easier to make than a traditional pie. Give this recipe a try, it’s truly addictive.

Apple, Pear, and Cranberry Crisp from A Year in Food

A quintessential autumn crisp filled with seasonal fruits.

Double Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Tart from Oh She Glows

Looking for a show-stopping dessert that also happens to be vegan and gluten free? You’ve found it in this decadent tart.

During a season full of indulgence, I hope you’ll find some real food options to add to your holiday traditions. I'm on Pinterest too, so head over for more ideas--I'll keep pinning all the way to Thanksgiving.