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Whole Foods Thanksgiving Dinner How to Make a Healthy Holiday Meal Without Breaking the Bank

healthy thanksgiving dinner

The holidays can get a little tricky when you're committed to eating healthy whole foods. This is especially true when it comes to the side dishes and desserts.

When you eat a whole food diet, you want to cut processed foods as much as possible. This means you may need to adjust some recipes.

For example, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs and pumpkin pie have processed ingredients like milk, mayo and sugar. These are the types of ingredients you want to avoid as much as possible.

Yet, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a delicious and satisfying Thanksgiving meal with your family. You just need to adjust how you prepare some of the dishes.

Starting early is essential to planning a whole foods Thanksgiving dinner.

This ultimate guide on how to prepare a healthy whole foods Thanksgiving dinner includes:

  • How to plan your meal
  • Making the shopping as easy as possible
  • How to make a healthy holiday meal
  • Whole food recipes for Thanksgiving dinner
whole foods thanksgiving dinner

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Planning Your Whole Foods Thanksgiving Dinner

When you're planning your whole foods Thanksgiving dinner, make sure you don’t rush. If you do, you may end up with dishes full of processed ingredients.
 
Try to give yourself at least a week or two to get ready for the holiday dinner. Know how many people are going to be there and whether you want others to bring dishes to the meal.
 
If you do consider asking your guests to bring a dish, don't be afraid to be specific! For a big dinner like Thanksgiving, a host is often more of a planner than a cook. Don't be afraid to take charge and delegate.

Start Working On Your List Early

whole foods thanksgiving dinner

If you have a game plan, you won't end up with extra items you bought for convenience or that you don't want or need. If this is the first time you are preparing a whole foods meal, you may experience temptations. Instead, only get what you have written down on your list. This will also help you manage your Thanksgiving food budget.
 
To create your list for the Thanksgiving dinner, make a list of the main course, side dishes, and dessert.
 
Next, take that list and find recipes for each food item and write down ingredients for all the recipes. Check off anything you already have, then create a grocery list of what you need.

Make It From Scratch

You can control what goes into your dishes by making them from scratch. Preparing food from scratch is healthier because you won't find ingredients added to enhance color or taste. And also processed foods have tons of sugar and salt.

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Also, the more food you make from scratch, the more money you will save. Ingredients seem like they cost a lot, but you'll have these ingredients for future meals. Things like seasonings, herbs, and oil, will stay fresh for months. 

Keep Your Meals Simple

The more straightforward your dishes are, the closer to nature (whole) they will be. You want to start with ingredients that look like they did when they were growing in nature. Never “mess with Mother Nature!”
 
Rather than the traditional green bean casserole with can mushroom soup and fried onions… How about a simple green bean dish with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of sea salt. Look for simple recipes with fewer ingredients. The more ingredients, the more likely you'll end up eating processed food.

How to Shop For Your Whole Foods Thanksgiving Dinner

You can easily get your shopping done and keep your diet clean and whole by following these tips:

Only Shop the Perimeter of the Store

This is a good recommendation for anytime. When you want to get only natural, whole, and healthy foods, you only need to shop the perimeter of the store.
 
In the middle aisles, the only thing you should need is the oil section and perhaps the herbs and seasonings. Most supermarkets keep their whole foods on the edge of the store, which is the majority of the items you will need.

 Finding Holiday Whole Food Deals

 whole foods thanksgiving dinnerwhole foods thanksgiving dinnerwhole foods thanksgiving dinner

You may also want to stick to a budget when you are shopping for your Thanksgiving meal. Thanksgiving meals can be expensive if you want high-quality meat and organic produce. So start to pay attention to promotions you see locally and online.

Buy in Bulk When You Can

Buying in bulk is a very good idea when you are going to make food from scratch.Stores like Costco or Sam's Club are perfect for buying organic food in bulk. When you buy in bluk you can save between 20 – 30 percent. This is a smart option if you are feeding a large family or are expecting many guests. 

Consider Shopping Online

If you're like me, you dread going to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not fond spending my time looking for a parking spot, or pushing a cart through crowds of people. I'd much rather be in the kitchen prepping or cooking. 

Fortunately, there's a natural alternative. Online shopping allows you to get everything you may need without the stress. 

Online shopping also makes comparing prices easy. It's super convenient, and you'll save a bunch of time. It may not do away with all your trips to the grocery store, but it will help you quickly find new items and free you up to do other things you enjoy. Shopping online can also help you stick to a budget because impulse buys won't tempt you. 

If you decide to shop online, I recommend looking at Thrive Market. Thrive gives back and they make eating healthily affordable. You can already save between 30-50% off retail prices, but their holiday promotion includes an additional 20% off your first 3 orders! This promotion is only valid through December 2017.

You can learn more about Thrive Market and if grocery delivery is right for you here.

Shop at Your Local Farmer's Market

Shopping at farmer's market is often perceived to be more expensive, but it's not always the case. Some items may be more expensive while others are significantly cheaper. But, by buying local, you help support local farming. When you shop your local farmer's market, you can expect high-quality vegetables and fruit. Food grown close to home is harvested in season and only when ripe so you minimize chemicals used as preservatives.  

How To Make a Healthy Whole Foods Thanksgiving Dinner

In our quest to eat a whole foods Thanksgiving dinner let's look at the typical dishes served on Thanksgiving and make them into lighter, healthier versions.

Turkey

Turkey is the mainstay of the Thanksgiving dinner, and luckily it's a whole food. Just make sure when you are cooking it, you are only using seasonings and spices.
 
If you are planning to buy an industrial-farm raised turkey, don't! Instead look for a pasture-raised or free-range/organic option.
 
Turkeys evolved in the wild. They need to eat insects, flap their wings and run around. On pasture-based farms, they get to all that. You may pay a little more, but the taste and quality of the meat are worth it.
 

Here's a dairy-free, Gluten-free, recipe for a Garlic and Lemon Roasted Turkey that I'm planning to make this year.

GARLIC AND LEMON ROASTED TURKEY

Yield: 10 to 15 servings
Active Time:

INGREDIENTS

4 large leeks, cut into 4-inch chunks
5 lemons, quartered
5 heads garlic, halved
1 (10- to 15-pound) turkey, cleaned, washed, and patted dry
Sea salt
1 cup butter-flavored coconut oil, melted
2 bunches rosemary
2 bunches thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken bone broth
1 cup white wine

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.Place chopped leeks, 3 quartered lemons, and 4 halved heads of garlic in the bottom of a large roasting dish.

Liberally salt the inside of the turkey cavity and pour in several tablespoons of the coconut oil. Stuff the cavity with the remaining halved garlic head, quartered lemon, and one bunch each of thyme and rosemary.

 

Place turkey in the oven for 10 minutes. Without opening the door, turn down the temperature to 325 degrees and roast for 30 minutes more. Roast for a total of 3 to 4 hours, basting with juices every 15 minutes until juices run clear when the turkey is cut between the leg and the thigh.

Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Reserve drippings for gravy, if desired.

Special equipment: cooking twine
originally published on Thrivemarket.com/blog
photo credit: Paul Delmont

If your family is smaller and you decide to make a chicken instead of turkey, the same rule applies. But, if you eat ham or red meat, try to get a grass-fed ham that doesn’t contain any hormones.

Mashed Potatoes

whole foods thanksgiving dinner

Mashed potatoes are the ultimate side on Thanksgiving. There's something about the creamy, buttery texture that everyone seems to love.
 
Everyone has their favorite way of making mashed potatoes. Some people like the skin left on. Others like to add garlic and herbs. I just love to keep them healthy without sacrificing the taste and creaminess.
 
You can make mashed potatoes healthier without sacrificing the creamy texture. How?
 

First, use a potato ricer. A ricer guarantees no lumps, and your potatoes will be very smooth. Then substitute a splash of olive oil and vegetable broth for the dairy. Or try oat milk, which boosts the creamy texture.

Or skip the mashed potatoes, and make this Parsnip-Apple Purree

PARSNIP-APPLE PURÉE

Yield: 6 servings
Active Time:

Whole foods thanksgiving dinner

INGREDIENTS

1 pound parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons ghee
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 green apples, peeled, cored, and grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat water in a large pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add in parsnips and a pinch of salt. The water should cover them by at least 1 inch. Boil until tender, 15 minutes.In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ghee and coconut milk with the ground coriander, nutmeg, and garlic powder. Simmer and keep warm, but do not boil.

Drain parsnips and place parsnips in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add grated apples and warm ghee mixture. Beat until light and fluffy. Season generously with large-flake sea salt and ground pepper.

Note: Apples should be used immediately after grating. If not, soak in lemon-infused water until ready to use.

INSTRUCTION:

Heat water in a large pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add in parsnips and a pinch of salt. The water should cover them by at least 1 inch. Boil until tender, 15 minutes.In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ghee and coconut milk with the ground coriander, nutmeg, and garlic powder. Simmer and keep warm, but do not boil.

Drain parsnips and place parsnips in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add grated apples and warm ghee mixture. Beat until light and fluffy. Season generously with large-flake sea salt and ground pepper.

Note: Apples should be used immediately after grating. If not, soak in lemon-infused water until ready to use.

originally published on Thrivemarket.com/blog
Photo credit: Paul Delmont

Vegetables

You can have any vegetable you want when you are eating whole and clean. But consider those that are in season.
 
Here are the vegetables includes that are in season in November:
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Green Beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet potatoes and yams
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli or broccolini
  • Carrots
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Spinach

I like my vegetables unadulterated, so I plan to pan-roast some broccolini with capers.

PAN ROASTED BROCCOLINI WITH CAPERS

Yield: 6 Servings
Active Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes

how foods thanksgiving dinner

INGREDIENTS:

3 Cloves garlic
8 Tablespoons ghee
1 Large lemon zested
1/2 bunch roughly chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Maldon salt
1 1/2 lbs broccolini
3 Tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTION:

Place garlic cloves, ghee, lemon zest and juice, and parsley in the bowl of a small food processor. Process until fairly smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and Maldon salt in a large skillet over high heat. Add broccolini and saute', stirring 5 minutes, until cooked and slightly blistered yet still crunchy and bright green.

Turn off heat, add capers and red pepper flakes.

originally published on Thrivemarket.com/blog
Photo credit: Paul Delmont

CASHEW CREAM GRAVY

Yield 6 Servings
Active Time – 5 Minutes
Total Time – 20 minutes (plus overnight soaking)

whole foods thanksgiving dinner

INGREDIENTS:

Pan drippings from coconut oil-basted turkey (above)
1-2 cups Turkey Bone Broth
1 Shallot
1 clove Garlic
3 Bay leaves
2 Cups Cashews, soaked overnight in filtered water and drained
3/4 Cup caramelized onions from turkey pan
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTION:

Combine pan drippings from cooked turkey with 1 Cup Bone Broth, shallot, garlic, and Bay Leaves in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and turn off heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and place mixture in a blender with soaked cashews and caramelized onions. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and liberal amounts of freshly ground pepper. Dilute with more bone broth to thin, if necessary.

originally published on Thrivemarket.com/blog

Stuffing

One of the most popular sides to have with Thanksgiving dinner is stuffing. Since you don't eat bread or grains on a whole foods diet, traditional stuffing is out of the question.
 
You can make an alternative version by using root vegetables, walnuts, and mushrooms. Here's the grain-free stuffing I'm going with this year.

CARAMELIZED LEEK AND MUSHROOM STUFFING WITH HAZELNUTS

Yield 6-8 Servings
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

whole foods thanksgiving dinner

INGREDIENTS

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Yellow Onions, very thinly sliced lengthwise
3 Tablespoons ghee
5 leeks, rinsed and chopped
3/4 C Chicken bone broth
3 Tablespoons raw honey
Sea salt and pepper
4 Cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons chopped rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped thyme
4 Cups roughly chopped mixed mushrooms
1 Large onion zested
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 C chopped hazelnuts
4 eggs
1/2 Tablespoon coconut flour

INSTRUCTION

Place 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet and heat over high heat. Add sliced onions and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Turn heat down to low and let onions caramelize for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a separate skillet, heat 2 tablespoons ghee over medium-high heat. Add chopped leeks and stir. Cook to soften for 5 minutes. Then add in 1/4 cup chicken bone broth and simmer 5 minutes. Add honey, salt, and pepper. When leeks are coated, turn the heat up to high and cook an additional minute. Remove from heat and add to caramelized onion.

Separately, heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a saucepan along with garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Mix in mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Combine mushroom mixture with the onion-leek mixture. Stir in lemon zest, nutmeg, and hazelnuts, and season with salt and pepper.

Cranberry Sauce

No holiday table is complete without cranberry sauce. The thing you don’t want to add is sugar, on any type of paleo or whole foods diet.
 
You should use fresh cranberries rather than frozen or canned cranberries. If you check out the nutrition label on a can of cranberries, you'll find high fructose corn syrup! You definitely want to avoid this toxin!
 
Instead, sweeten it with maple syrup and orange juice! It's so easy and tastes amazing too.

LAILA ALI'S CRANBERRY SAUCE

Yield 6 Servings

Active Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 Pound fresh washed cranberries
1 Cup pure maple syrup
4 Tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1 Cinnamon stick

INSTRUCTION

Add cranberries to pan, and turn heat to medium. Add maple syrup, orange juice, and cranberry juice. Bring berries to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes until cranberries start to pop. Add orange zest and cinnamon, and simmer for 10 more minutes until juice thickens. Cool and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

originally published on Thrive Market
Video credits
Produced and Directed by Liza Glucoft
Director of Photography: Naeem Munaf

Gluten Free Biscuits

Your Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without some sort of yummy carbs. You can whip these up in 15 minutes with only 7 ingredients and they are GLUTEN FREE and bound to be eaten immediately.

GLUTEN FREE ROSEMARY BISCUITS

Yield: 6 biscuits
Active Time: 15 Mins
Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins

whole foods thanksgiving dinner

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 Cups Almond flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1/4 Cup lard
1 Tablespoon raw honey
3/4 Finely chopped Rosemary leaves

INSTRUCTION

Combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Whisk to incorporate.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, lard, honey, and rosemary. Mix wet ingredients into dry until thoroughly combined, and dough comes together. Cover bowl and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Press or roll out dough to a 1-inch thickness, sprinkling the surface with extra flour to avoid sticking. Cut out circles with a 3-inch cutter and place on prepared baking sheet. Whisk remaining egg in a small bowl and brush on top of biscuits. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

originally published on Thrivemarket.com/blog
photo credit: Paul Delmont

Pumpkin Pie

You can't go wrong with this pumpkin pie. It's paleo-friendly, dairy-free, and gluten-free and very delicious!

PALEO MAPLE PUMPKIN PIE WITH A WALNUT-PECAN CRUST

Yield: One 8-inch pie
Active Time:

INGREDIENTS:

For the pecan-walnut crust
1 cup ground raw walnuts
1 cup ground raw pecans
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons ghee, melted

For the pumpkin filling
1 can pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

INSTRUCTION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the crust
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust until it comes together as a dough. Evenly press into bottom and sides of a tart or pie pan. Bake in oven 7 minutes.

Make the filling
While crust is baking, whisk together all of the filling ingredients until light and fluffy. Pour mixture into crust and place back in oven to bake 30 to 40 additional minutes, or until the pie filling has fully set.

Note: If desired, serve with a spiced coconut whipped cream. Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and zest of 1/2 an orange to traditional coconut or regular whipped cream and dollop on top of pie.

Originally published on Thrive Market
Photo credit: Paul Delmont

Conclusion of Whole Foods Thanksgiving Dinner

Creating a whole foods thanksgiving dinner is not all that difficult. It may take a bit more planning and a willingness to try new dishes, but in the end, it's really about being with family and friends. Sharing good food is always a great feeling especially during this time of the year. In all the cultures of the world, sharing food prepared with love is a constant.

Ayurvedic teachings say that your state of mind during cooking affects the food you prepare; a loving, positive state of mind nourishes the eater, while a stressed-out approach can cause distress and indigestion. So, chop, chop, breathe, relax, enjoy and pass the love and peace around.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy holiday.

Oh! One last thing… If you like this post and found value in it, please share it on your social networks. Thank you! I'm so grateful. xo

whole foods thanksgiving dinner

Why Thrive Market?

Do you know about Thrive Market?

It's an online health food market selling organic groceries and natural health and beauty products. All I can say is that I've become a wholehearted supporter over the last year! In fact, I recently wrote a review of Thrive Market to spread the word. Here's why…

  1. Products at Thrive Market are typically 25-50% less expensive than if you were to purchase the exact same item at Whole Foods or your local market. They even have Amazon's prices beat!
  2. They have continuous promotions that enable you to save even more money or get free gifts. For example, clicking this link will get you a free bottle of maple syrup.
  3. If you use this link, you can save another 25% off your first order and get free shipping – This is in addition to the 25-50% off you'll already be saving.
  4. It's quick and convenient – My orders arrive typically within 2 days. For example, if I order on Monday, my box arrives on Wednesday… And they have free nationwide delivery!
  5. Thrive Market is a socially conscious platform with a social mission. For every member on their site, the company also sponsors a free membership for a low-income family make healthy food available for all! How cool is that?

Click This Link to Start Saving Big-Time at Thrive Market

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6 Comments

  • Jackie, thanks so much for sharing these delicious recipes! I’m definitely onto the apple and parsnip mash and the pumpkin pie this year … yum! I really love how you share everything from planning to shopping to recipes in order to make a fabulous Tday dinner that is delicious and wholesome … you really can’t go wrong if you follow your guidelines and recipes. Warmly, Katie

    • Hi Katie, So satisfying to share the recipes with you! I’m looking forward to the parsnip mash too!!… but I’ll probably make traditional mashed potatoes for my guests too, but I’m hoping people will try both! Did you also look at the cashew graves recipe? YUM! Thanks for your comment and for visiting the site.

  • Whole foods are always the best option. My friends from european countries such as France and Italy eat whole foods and I noticed that they just don’t seem to put on as much weight as me. These are all great options and I love your choice of the garlic and lemon turkey. What is your favourite choice out of all of these?

    • It’s true Josh! the processed foods are what make us fat, sick and nearly dead. The recipe I’m most excited to try is the Hazelnut stuffing. I’ve been wanting to try a grain-free stuffing and this is the year! 🙂 Thanks for commenting. 

  • This is the type of content I was looking for. It comes so much in handy when one is near that thanksgiving day or any holiday really. Great content and I’m sure if I follow your advice, everyone will be delighted that day!
    Then give thanks! lol
    Thank you and blessings~

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