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How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Without Guilt {Recipes}

by Elise Museles

healthy thanksgiving recipes

With Thanksgiving only a week away, we’re busy thinking about what we’ll be serving… and eating! While the holiday is one of the biggest feasts that we celebrate in this country, let’s not forget that it’s also a day focused on family, love, tradition – and most of all, gratitude.

In that spirit, I invite you to partake in a tradition of mine, one that I hope you’ll want to repeat year after year. I know this is easier said than done, but next Thursday: let’s all leave food guilt far, far away from the Thanksgiving table. Think of that guilt as the uninvited guest to the party! And no matter what you eat or how uncomfortably full you get, savor every single bite.

Just like any meal, Thanksgiving dinner should nourish your body and your heart. If you’re consumed with guilt, you miss out on being present. That takes away from any enjoyment (and soul nourishment!) from all of the delicious food and face-to-face conversations around your holiday table.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to choose a few recipes that have been passed down through the generations and make them in all their white flour, not-so-healthy-fat glory, remembering the people who first cooked them for you. When you eat those dishes, you eat love and memories, in addition to potatoes and butter!

Then, mix the old with the new. While you relish those family classics, add in a healthy twist. I like to aim for a Thanksgiving menu that’s a combination of traditional dishes and interesting, new dishes – it makes the holiday special, festive, and exciting.

If you’re looking for healthy, fresh recipes to tuck between those family classics, here are some of my Thanksgiving day favorites from the last few years, along with a few new and updated recipes, too!

healthy thanksgiving recipes

Start smart
Don’t skip breakfast in an attempt to “save” calories for the big meal. You need plenty of energy and fuel to chop and mix and simmer all day (or to make small talk with the relatives!). Balance your blood sugar starting in the morning with healthy fats, fiber, and protein. My favorite? The oh-so-appropriate Green Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl.

healthy thanksgiving recipes entree appetizer

Greet your guests
If you’re not serving the meal until 4 p.m. or later, your guests might need a little something to tide them over and keep their spirits (and blood sugar) up. My Spiced Roasted Carrot Hummus, served with a bunch of colorful veggies, is pretty – and light enough to leave plenty of room for the main event. If you prefer something a bit more cozy, fill some mugs with my updated Butternut Squash Soup garnished with Roasted Chickpea Croutons.

healthy thanksgiving recipes veggie salad

Go for green
A new & improved Roasted Root Vegetable Salad over a bed of greens with maple-Dijon dressing adds a delicious splash of color to the table. My elegant Beet, Fennel and Orange Salad is a beautiful addition to your meal. Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Almonds and Dates are an all-time favorite that I usually only make once a year! And you can never go wrong by keeping it simple with Roasted Asparagus or Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Having some green at the table alongside the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes is always a good idea, and it looks lovely, too!

healthy thanksgiving recipes veggie sides

Take sides
My amazing friend Pamela Salzman’s Stovetop Cauliflower with Pomegranate Molasses looks out of this world! Searching for a lighter alternative to mashed potatoes? Check out my Mashed Cauliflower with Garlic. (Even my guys approve!)

Last year, I made a Saweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Nut Crumble from Oh She Glows, and it was a huge hit. If you missed it, now is your chance to add this dairy-free and refined sugar-free dish to your dinner table. Or keep it simple with Roasted Sweet Potatoes that are always popular, even with young kids.

healthy thanksgiving recipes cranberry sauce

Get saucy
To avoid excess refined sugar, try my Superfood Cranberry Sauce with orange and chia seeds – perfect jammy texture with some nutritional upgrades.

healthy thanksgiving recipes pie Salted Maple Apple Galette

End sweetly
The vegan Gingersnap Chocolate Cream Pie with Bourbon Pecan Crumble from Lily of Kale & Caramel is so insanely delicious, you’ll forget that pumpkin pie exists. (Really!) The brand new Salted Maple Apple Galette  (pictured above) from Pamela Salzman will be making an appearance at my table. And for something more traditional, try this Pumpkin Pie recipe that’s free of grains, dairy, and refined sugar. If you want to end the holiday with a bit of chocolate, my superfood bark is a total crowd pleaser and dare I say, healthy!

healthy thanksgiving recipes Elise Museles

Banish guilt
If you do overindulge at your holiday feast, remember that negative self-talk does more harm to your body than the extra helping of stuffing or slice of pecan pie. Kindness towards yourself is always the answer. But it you’re still feeling down or ridden with food guilt, my effective and simple guilt-busting strategies can help!

Remember, tomorrow’s a new day. Move your body. Get outside with your houseguests. Load up on fruits and veggies. Go for my cleansing green lemonade or try my detox salad. And don’t forget: you are the creator of your thoughts, and you have the power to change them.

Here’s to a happy Thanksgiving filled with lots of love – and no guilt!

Photos of Elise by @rosalovesdc

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