Approaching a healthy Thanksgiving can feel tricky enough as it is. Add in the pressure of navigating everyone’s nutritional needs and dietary preferences? Overwhelming, to say the least. So, we’re here to hopefully help make Thanksgiving a little less stressful and a whole lot more delicious. We’re sharing what a healthy Thanksgiving plate may look like based on some of the most popular diet trends. So whether you’re hosting this year and accommodating your guests, or are just trying to keep your own plate healthy, here are some simple tips and healthier alternatives to make your Thanksgiving feast stress-free and utterly delicious.
Here’s what a healthy Thanksgiving plate could look like for the following diet plans: Keto, Paleo, Pescatarian, Vegan, Whole30, Gluten-free.
A Sample Healthy Thanksgiving Plate For 6 Popular Diets
A Healthy Keto Thanksgiving Plate
Keto diets have boomed in popularity over the last couple of years. If you’re unfamiliar with this eating trend, the Keto Diet is a very low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. In addition to avoiding processed and artificial foods, grains, certain fruit, natural sugars, and even beans should be limited or avoided. Needless to say, making a keto-friendly plate can be tricky. If you follow a keto diet yourself or you have some dinner guests that would appreciate some keto-friendly Thanksgiving dish options, here’s a sample healthy thanksgiving plate for the low-carb eaters.
Protein: Turkey, ham, or fatty fish such as salmon.
Sides: Mashed cauliflower (made with ghee), asparagus wrapped in bacon, brussels sprouts, green beans, charcuterie board made with keto-friendly options (such as nuts, deli meat, cheese, guac, and pesto), garlicky green broccoli sauteed in oil with slivered almonds, low-carb cauliflower stuffing made with onions and mushrooms.
Dessert: Enjoy this Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie Parfait but without the granola and swap out the maple syrup for your favorite low-carb sweetener of choice (like monk fruit). To top it off, make an unsweetened (or monk fruit-sweetened) coconut whipped cream using full-fat canned coconut milk and finish with a sprinkle of crushed nuts or seeds.
A Healthy Paleo Thanksgiving Plate
A Paleo Thanksgiving dinner plate is super easy to put together. The key here is to steer clear of added dairy, sweeteners, gluten, and grains. That may sound like a lot of off-the-table items, but you’d be surprised at how many Thanksgiving staples can be made paleo-approved. When in doubt, focus on whole foods!
Protein: Turkey, Ham, or Salmon
Sides: Mashed cauliflower (made with ghee or coconut cream), Brussel sprouts with crumbled bacon, mashed sweet potatoes (made with coconut oil, coconut cream, or ghee), homemade cranberry sauce, homemade gravy (use bone broth & arrowroot starch vs. flour to thicken), cranberry bacon stuffing made with paleo breadcrumbs, candied sweet potatoes or acorn squash made with pecans and maple syrup.
Dessert: Paleo-friendly pumpkin pie (using grain-free pie crust and made with coconut cream and pure maple syrup), baked apples or pears with cinnamon, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
A Healthy Pescatarian Thanksgiving Plate
Aside from missing out on the quintessential dish of the holiday (Thanksgiving Turkey), enjoying a pescatarian Thanksgiving plate is quite simple! A pescatarian diet is defined as someone who follows a vegetarian diet but includes seafood, though many choose to eliminate all other animal-based products as well, including eggs and dairy. This means all plant-based whole foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and legumes (in addition to fish and sometimes eggs and dairy), are fair game at the holiday dinner table, making pescatarian recipes easy to make and delicious to enjoy.
Protein: Lean fish such as salmon, scallops, lobster, or sea bass.
Sides: Roasted or mashed sweet potatoes made with coconut or avocado oil, maple butternut squash roasted with pecans and cranberries, warm beet and ricotta kale salad (made with nut-based ricotta for a dairy-free option), roasted carrots with pesto, crispy balsamic Brussel sprouts, wild rice, and sweet potato stuffing.
Dessert: Dairy-free pecan or apple pie sweetened with dates and maple syrup with an almond flour crust (which can be made without eggs).
A Healthy Vegan Thanksgiving Plate
While eating vegan may sound difficult this time of year, there are so many delicious plant-based options available. You can easily make a yummy tofurkey dish in place of the traditional turkey and load your plate up with delicious and nourishing veggies. And, if tofu isn’t your thing, you can still make a nourishing plate by combining various plant foods like beans and rice to make a complete protein! Complete your dish with some roasted sweet potatoes or dairy-free mash potatoes for that comfort we all crave in our Thanksgiving meal.
Protein: Vegan Tofurkey or baked tofu.
Sides: Mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes (use coconut cream), roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil, garlic, and onion, vegan stuffing, Brussel sprouts or asparagus, green beans, homemade cranberry sauce, vegan gravy.
Dessert: Dairy-free pumpkin or apple pie, raw vegan pumpkin pie made with a date and nut crust and cashew-based filling, baked apples or pears with cinnamon, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
A Healthy Whole30 Thanksgiving Plate
When it comes to putting together your Whole30 Thanksgiving plate, it will look pretty similar to what a Paleo dieter would eat. The focus here is going to be on selecting the highest quality food options possible and steering clear of all sweeteners. Focusing on fresh, whole foods is the easiest way to navigate this menu!
The trickiest thing about eating Whole30 during Thanksgiving is dessert! We got a little creative and are sharing a real food, sugar-free dessert idea below.
Protein: Organic turkey.
Sides: Mashed cauliflower made with ghee and garlic, roasted sweet potato cubes with cranberries, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, homemade cranberry sauce (swap out the honey for a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice), homemade gravy (use bone broth & arrowroot starch vs. flour to thicken), bacon-wrapped dates, deviled eggs made with avocado, carrots roasted with garlic and parsley.
Dessert: Baked apples, pears, or grapefruit with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a baked sweet potato with a dollop of ghee, and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, topped with crushed pecans or walnuts, or dates stuffed with almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
A Healthy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Plate
Eating gluten-free is so much easier than it was even just a few years ago. With so many people adopting this dietary style, it’s easy to find gluten-free alternatives for virtually any food or recipe (think: gluten-free pie crusts, bread for stuffing, dinner rolls, and baking flours) at almost any grocery store. Or better yet, stick to real, whole foods that are naturally gluten-free for your Thanksgiving feast.
Here are some ideas of what you can add to your gluten-free Thanksgiving plate.
Protein: Turkey, fish, or tofu
Sides: Mashed cauliflower made with ghee and garlic, roasted sweet potato cubes with cranberries, Brussel sprouts, or asparagus, homemade cranberry sauce, homemade gravy (use arrowroot starch vs. flour to thicken), stuffing made with cranberries, sweet potatoes, and gluten-free bread, green beans sauteed with mushrooms, onions, and almonds, cauliflower.
Have a Healthy & Happy Thanksgiving No Matter What Your Eating Style
Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or just trying to stay on track with a healthy eating plan, use these healthy sample menus to guide you through the holiday with ease. While we often think about comfort foods and heavy carbs when it comes to Thanksgiving, there are so many yummy ways to enjoy this holiday, no matter what your dietary preference or your dietary restrictions may be.
A lot of this also comes down to mindset — it’s about thinking about all the foods we can have and not so much about the foods we can’t. This mindset shift is huge and can be a total game-changer when it comes to helping you create your healthy Thanksgiving plate and enjoying every bite of it!
If you splurge a little, that’s ok too! Do your best to stay on track, but enjoy yourself without the guilt or stress. And, if you overdo it, tomorrow’s a new day.