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20 Healthier Thanksgiving Recipes

Posted Nov 18 2012 3:01am

If you still haven’t decided on what to make, or need some lighter or healthier sides to round out your meal, here are 20 of my favorites, many of which can be made in advance and re-heated on the Big Day.

There’s not a single recipe for turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, or pumpkin pie. Instead I have chosen to showcase some versatile sides, some that can double as entrees, and some meat-free mains. Although everyone’s definition of healthy varies, all the recipes are either vegetarian or vegan and many are gluten free. After all that health food, there’s a few festive desserts that aren’t necessarily healthy, but you only live once.

1. Honey Dinner Rolls – The best dinner rolls I’ve ever had and I will use this recipe over and over, for years to come. Soft, fluffy, scrumptious and the rolls can be made in advance, too

2. Pumpkin Spiced Brown Rice Tempeh and Cranberry Salad (vegan, GF if GF tempeh is used) – This can be served warm or cold, and can be made in advance and combines pumpkin pie spice, cranberries, mixed vegetables, and tempeh for a seasonal salad

3. Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip – (vegan, GF) Healthier than potato-based fries, and parsnips have a nice warming little kick and the cooling creamy dip balances the flavors

4. Pumpkin and Cheesy Baked Potato Casserole (vegan, GF) – Layers of potatoes, pumpkin, and cheese (vegan) make for a warm, hearty, and comforting dish that also uses up some of the last bits of pumpkin puree in the can

5. Spicy Baked Black Beans with Mixed Vegetables (vegan, GF) – A kicked up version of baked beans, with mixed vegetables for extra texture and crunch

6. Roasted Grapes and Balsamic Reduction with Cheese and Crackers (Reduction is vegan, GF) – A tasty and tangy and appetizer that can be made quickly and easily. I could drink balsamic reduction and love it so much, on anything

7. Sweet Potato Red Pepper and Coconut Milk Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, microwave-friendly) – This soup comes together in 15 minutes from start to finish, and is make entirely using a microwave to steam sweet potatoes and red peppers, before they’re pureed with coconut milk. Creamy and hearty

8. Vegetable Lasagna Casserole (vegan, GF) – Rather than using traditional noodles, I made a noodle-like pancake from grated carrots and zucchini, but hash browns or grated potatoes could also be used to create a noodle. Top with any kind of filling you enjoy from salsa with corn and beans to marinara sauce

9. Rosemary Chipotle Roasted Almonds (vegan, GF) – Make these as kicked up as you desire, and watch people gobble them by the handful

10. Cranberry & Orange Ginger Mango Chutney – A play on my favorite Mango Chutney from Trader Joe’s and in this version I included cranberries, fresh oranges, ginger, and mango chunks. So easy and just put everything in a kettle and simmer

11. Spinach Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Cheesy Squares (vegetarian, with vegan & GF options) – I love spinach and artichoke dip and these squares are a portable version of one of my favorite dips, no crackers required

12. Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free) – The roasted vegetables give this soup an almost smoky quality. They’re roasted and then blended with peanuts, peanut butter, and coconut milk for a soup rich in layers of flavor

13. Cheezy Vegetable Bake (vegan, GF) – Use up any leftover stray vegetable odds-and-ends in the crisper drawer with this cheezy and easy vegetable casserole

14. Pumpkin Honey Tofu (vegan, GF) – Draining and pressing tofu, then freezing it for about two days, allowing it to thaw, and then pressing it and marinating with pumpkin puree before baking creates tofu that has an almost bread-like quality. If you want to turn tofu into something that resembles pumpkin bread, freezing it first is how

15. Apple Glazed Vegetables & Edamame Stir Fry (vegan, GF) – Glazed apples are great in everything from pie to this easy, slightly sweet-yet-savory stir fry

16. Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars (Vegan, GF) – An easy, fast, hearty dessert that’s not too sweet and full of robust pumpkin flavor and lots of hearty chewiness from the oats. People write frequently telling me how much they really like these bars

17. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting – A batch size of just six cupcakes and a perfect way to use up the last bits of pumpkin puree in the can. The batter comes together, by hand, in under two minutes

18. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – I loved these cookies so much that I remade them a few days after I made the first batch. The cookies are soft and light, yet satisfying and the buttercream filling is the icing on these little pumpkin cakey cookies

19. Cranberry Bliss Bars {Starbucks Copycat recipe} – One of the best desserts I’ve made in ages, with a white chocolate and cranberry blondie base, topped with white chocolate-infused cream cheese frosting, more cranberries and a white chocolate drizzle. It’s a good thing the batch size only yields eight wedges because they’re dangerously good and a dead ringer for the Starbucks version

20. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache – The batter takes five minutes to make by hand and it’s one of the moistest cakes I’ve ever had and will be a favorite for years to come. The ganache can be made in the microwave and is a snap and I’d much rather have this pumpkin cake than pumpkin pie

Here are a few other recipe roundups and links:

25 Thanksgiving Gathering Recipes – a free ebook/PDF download

70 Thanksgiving Recipes from Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker

50 Way to Do Pumpkin Pie from Lori the Recipe Girl

Crowd-Pleasing Thanksgiving Recipes: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free from Williams-Sonoma

40 Non-Pumpkin Thanksgiving Dessert Bites from Christie at Love From The Oven

50 Totally Awesome Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes from Marla at Family Fresh Cooking

What are you making for Thanksgiving or looking forward to eating?

Feel free to leave recipe links for your favorites or things you have your eye on.

Thanks for the Red Star Platinum Yeast Gift Basket Giveaway entries and have a Happy Thanksgiving Week!

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