4 Crazy Healthy Twists To Thanksgiving Faves
As Health Coaches, we want to walk our talk all year round and sometimes, even for us, it can be challenging around the holidays when rich food is in abundance and big meals are on the table. So we’ve compiled four crazy healthy variations on traditional Thanksgiving staples that are not only healthy but seriously tasty. Try them. You’ll be really thankful that you did!
Traditional gravy is typically thickened with white flour or cornstarch, which add simple, starchy carbs to an already carb-heavy Thanksgiving feast. Plus, traditional gravy is not gluten-free and often has added sugar, salt and flavorings. This gravy alternative is a way healthier choice because it’s gluten-free, uses low sodium Tamari and nutritional yeast loaded with B vitamins, which gives it an awesome flavor.
It’s All Gravy, Baby
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) vegetable broth (look for organic)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce, low sodium)
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- 4 Tbsp gluten-free flour
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp thyme
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Warm flour and nutritional yeast in a pot over medium heat, stirring, about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and add in tamari, olive oil and broth. Pour all three into a pitcher first then add together, very slowly, whisking flour and liquid consistently while mixing.
- Place pot back over heat and whisk briskly.
- Add garlic powder, thyme and pepper.
- Continue to whisk over heat until lumps are gone and texture is thick and desirable.
- Gravy will thicken up when removed from the heat, as it cools.
- Reheat and whisk to thin out before serving over leftovers. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.
Eggnog is heavy on the cream and loaded with sugar. Delicious, but not the best accompaniment to a Thanksgiving meal with so much rich food already. This vegan-friendly eggnog alternative uses coconut milk (which has unique fatty acids that aid heart health) instead of cream, and replaces table sugar with dates and maple syrup (an unrefined sweetener laden with antioxidants and minerals). And the cashews make an excellent protein substitute for the egg whites.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2-4 (depending how much you want to drink!)
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 2 cups water
- 1 14-ounce full-fat canned coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup (optional)
- 6 to 8 dates (pitted)
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- Soak cashews in water overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
- Drain the water from the cashews and place them in a blender with 2 cups of fresh water. Blend until very smooth.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend until a uniform consistency is achieved. This will require some time, as the dates take a great deal of blending.
- Pour eggnog into a glass container and refrigerate until cold (all the blending will likely heat the mixture up, so for best results, refrigerate before drinking).
- Do crazy awesome stuff with your eggnog.
Stuffing is traditionally made with butter or, worse, margarine and chunks of white bread. Enough said? And enough to make you feel truly stuffed at a Thanksgiving dinner. This way healthier holiday stuffing alternative is loaded with protein from lentils. and fiber from whole-grain bread and….it’s vegan as the recipe replaces egg with flax seeds and butter or margarine with olive oil.
Simple Vegan Stuffing
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- 1 large loaf whole-grain bread or 2 small baguettes, cubed & set out to dry overnight (~9 cups loosely packed)
- 3/4 cup uncooked green lentils
- 3 Tbsp olive oil or vegan butter (I used a mix of both)
- 1/2 cup white onions, diced
- 3/4 cup celery, diced
- salt & pepper
- 3 – 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (+ more for cooking lentils)
- 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 2 1/2 Tbsp water)
- 3/4 tsp dried sage, or 1 1/4 tsp fresh sage, chopped
- The night before, cube your bread and set it in a large bowl to dry out – you want it to be the texture of day old bread – noticeably dry but not rock hard.
- The day of, if you haven’t already cooked your lentils, do so now by thoroughly rinsing 3/4 cup lentils in cold water, then adding to a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups veggie broth or water.
- Cook over medium-high heat until a low boil is achieved, and then lower to a simmer and continue cooking uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line a 9×13 pan (or comparable sized dish) with foil or spray with nonstick spray. Also prepare flax egg and set aside.
- Sauté onion and celery in the olive oil or vegan butter and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant and translucent – about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- To the bowl of bread, pour most of the broth then add the remaining ingredients (sage, cooked veggies, flax egg, and lentils) and mix with a wooden spoon. The key is to make sure it is about the consistency of a meatloaf. If it’s too dry, add more broth and mix again. If it’s gotten too wet, add more bread.
- Transfer to the prepared pan and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Then remove the top layer of foil so the top can brown. Increase heat to 400 degrees F (204 C) and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the top is well browned and crisp.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave or oven, though best when fresh.
Mashed potatoes is as heavy a dish as it is tasty. It’s typically rich in dairy like butter, half and half, cream cheese, sour cream or parmesan cheese. Super rich stuff to add to potatoes, which produce allergies in some people sensitive to nightshades. This lighter alternative substitutes potatoes with cauliflower and is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and paleo. And the olive oil, fresh herbs and roasted garlic make it not just delicious but nutritious.
Roasted Garlic And Chive Cauliflower Mash
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
To roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the top off the garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Place the cut bulb on a large piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Gather the edges of the foil and press together to completely encapsulate the garlic. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cloves are completely soft. Unwrap the garlic bulb and squeeze the roasted garlic out of each clove into a bowl.
- 1 bulb roasted garlic
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (you may need an extra cup if you have a large head of cauliflower)
- Coarse salt, to taste
- Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons diced fresh chives, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Coarsely chop the cauliflower. Add the chopped cauliflower and two cups stock to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
- Remove the cauliflower from the pot with a slotted spoon.
- Add the cauliflower to a food processor along with 2 tablespoons stock, 2 tablespoons olive oil, roasted garlic, salt and pepper. Process until combined – add more stock if needed for desired consistency.
- Stir in the fresh chives. Garnish with additional chives and a heavy drizzle of olive oil. Trust me on the heavy drizzle. It’s amaze-balls.
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