It's about time to start prepping for the largest meal of the year. This year we wanted to give you a few ideas before you get started.
We love the idea of taking classic Thanksgiving dishes and making them a little more nutritious. You can do this by swapping out simple ingredients. For example, use 100% pure maple syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar. Or try cooking with ghee instead of butter.
These little swaps can actually go a long way. Even our most favorite decadent dishes like sweet potato casserole or apple pie can be made with healthier substitutes.
Also, don't forget you can always add more greens to your Thanksgiving spread. Vegetables are an amazing side dish; from air fryer brussels sprouts or fall flavored salads.
From side dishes to desserts, here are five of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes made a little healthier...
Stuffed Butternut Squash
- 1 (2-lb.) butternut squash, halved and seeded
- Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 c. vegetable broth
- 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed until water runs clear
- 3 c. roughly chopped kale, from 1 bunch
- 1 (15.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 c. dried cranberries
- 1/4 c. toasted pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 400° and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place squash halves, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until skin is starting to blister in some areas. Flip squash cut-side up and season thoroughly with salt.
In a small bowl, mash together butter and brown sugar, then use a spoon to spread butter paste all over squash. Return to oven and bake for about 30 minutes more, until squash is caramelized and tender.
In a small saucepan, combine broth, quinoa, and pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Add kale to a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of water and a big pinch of salt. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and cooked quinoa. Set aside to cool. Remove baked squash from oven. Spoon pooled sugar syrup over squash.
Fill cavity with 1 cup of quinoa mixture, then pile another 1 cup on rest of squash. Repeat with remaining squash and filling. Return to oven for about 10 minutes, until filling is warmed through. Serve immediately.
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
- 12 asparagus spears
- 6 prosciutto pieces
- 1 tbsp ghee or oil for frying
Wash and cut asparagus ends off. Slice prosciutto pieces in half. Wrap the prosciutto around the stalk of the asparagus. Heat ghee or oil in a frying pan until sizzling hot. Fry each prosciutto wrapped asparagus for 1-2 minutes on each side. Let cool, and enjoy!
Sweet Potato Casserole
For the Sweet Potatoes:
- 4 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes scrubbed (about 4–5 very large sweet potatoes)
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 vanilla beans or 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste*
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil melted
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For the Pecan Oat Topping:
- 1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup roughly chopped pecans untoasted
- 1/2 cup almond meal**
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish or other 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, then place them on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until the potatoes are fork tender, about 1 hour or so, depending upon the size of your potatoes. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Peel and discard the skins (they should come off easily with your fingers), break the potatoes in large chunks with a fork, then place the chunks into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl.
While the potatoes bake, pour the almond milk in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla beans, scrape the seeds into the pan, then add the empty pods to the pan too. Bring to a very gentle simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the almond milk boil. Remove from heat and let the vanilla steep while the potatoes continue baking.
Remove the vanilla bean pods from the saucepan, then pour the almond milk and vanilla bean specs into the bowl with the sweet potato chunks. Add the melted coconut oil, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
Mash the potatoes together with the milk and spices (or beat gently with a mixer or your paddle attachment or run though a food mill) until fairly smooth with some texture remaining. Taste and add additional salt/pepper as desired. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. With the back of a rubber spatula, press and smooth into a single layer.
In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients—oats, pecans, almond meal, cinnamon, salt, coconut oil, and maple syrup—until moist and evenly mixed. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes. Bake until the topping is toasted and fragrant and casserole is warmed through, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Crispy Red Air Fryer Potatoes
- 2 pounds small unpeeled red potatoes, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
Preheat air fryer to 400°. Drizzle potatoes with oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper; toss gently to coat. Place on ungreased tray in air-fryer basket. Cook until potatoes are golden brown and tender, 10-12 minutes, stirring once.
Mini Apple Pies
For the pies:
- 1 14-ounce package refrigerated pie dough (2 crusts)
- 1 large apple, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. honey
For the topping:
- 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. salted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 375˚.
For the pies: Roll out 1 piece of pie dough into a 12-inch round. Using a 3-inch cutter, cut out 12 small rounds. Repeat with the other piece of pie dough to make 12 more rounds. Press each round into a hole of a 24-cup mini muffin tin, pressing the dough evenly up the sides. Place in the refrigerator. Toss the apple, granulated sugar, flour, and honey in a medium bowl to combine.
For the topping: Whisk the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon in a separate medium bowl. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture, a few pieces at a time, until evenly mixed.
Place 1 teaspoon of the apple mixture in each muffin cup; top with 1 teaspoon of the topping. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.