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Healthy Alternatives To Your Thanksgiving Meal

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The most wonderful time of the year is quickly approaching ... and so is the detour from your diet! The tantalizing scents of Thanksgiving bring back sweet childhood memories and a few extra pounds on the scale for most of us. Cultivate a sense of wellbeing at this year's gathering by opting for healthier dinner options from our Thanksgiving guide. Your guests will be grateful when they try your kale au gratin and butternut squash quinoa casserole!

Share your healthy Thanksgiving recipes with us on Instagram or Facebook.

1.Citrus Herb Roasted Turkey:

This traditional herb-roasted turkey is drenched with savory spiced vegan butter, then baked to golden perfection. If you would like to make your turkey healthier this year, we recommend removing the skin to reduce its fat. Medical News Today also recommends going with an organic farm-raised turkey, as factory-farmed and conventionally raised turkeys are often injected with salt, water, and other preservatives during processing to extend shelf life and cut costs.

Ingredients:

1 orange

1 lemon

1 medium yellow quartered onion

1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped rosemary, sage, and thyme

1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup unsalted softened vegan butter

1 (12-14 lb) turkey

4 cups unsalted chicken broth

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Zest peel of orange and lemon (1 teaspoon each), then cut each into quarters. Peel and quarter onion; chop herbs. Combine 2 tablespoons herbs, zests, salt, pepper, and paprika into butter until blended. Remove bag of giblets and neck from inside turkey, and deskin turkey to reduce its fat content. Place turkey breast-side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. Tuck wings under turkey. Rub herb vegan butter over top of turkey and inside the cavity. Pour broth into roasting pan. Roast turkey 1 hour. Tent with foil and continue to cook 45-60 minutes and until turkey is 165 degrees F.  Transfer turkey to platter; let stand 15-30 minutes before carving. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon herbs and serve.

2. Kale Au Gratin:

This creamy gratin is so delicious, you'll never turn back to potatoes. This delightfully satisfying dish is filled with fresh cheddar cheese and crispy kale in a sea of savory cream.

Ingredients: 

3 medium bunches lacinato kale ribs removed and torn into roughly 3-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

3 cups heavy cream

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

For a healthier take on this recipe, opt for vegan cheese and coconut milk, which has the same thick consistency as heavy cream.

Instructions: Tear up 3 heads of lacinato kale, then pile them up on a baking dish up to the brim. Then carefully drizzle 3 cups of heavy cream and layer cheese over the kale. Place the gratin dish on a baking sheet to catch any cream that drips out as it cooks, then bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until the cream thickens and cheese browns nicely. Allow to cool before serving.

3.Butternut Squash Quinoa Casserole:

Butternut Squash quinoa casserole is the perfect seasonal guilt-free dish for you to try this Thanksgiving. Just one cup of butternut squash has 160 percent of your recommended amount of vitamin A ... and if that doesn't convince you, then the flexibility you have with the cheese in this recipe might.

Ingredients: 

4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash

1 teaspoon olive oil, 3 minced shallots

1 tablespoon fresh sage

6 cloves minced garlic

1 cup rinsed quinoa

1 1/2 cups of quinoa

1 1/2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 eggs beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 cup Gruyere or Vegan shredded cheese.

Instructions: Heat oven to 350 degrees, spray a large baking sheet with olive oil, add squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, and add shallots and sage to cook for 8 minutes or until shallots are tender. Add in garlic, and cook for another 30 seconds, then follow with quinoa and squash and stir for another minute. Add in broth, black pepper, sea salt, and cayenne pepper, bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low. Cook and cover for 25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Move mixture into an oven-safe pan. In a small bowl, combine milk and eggs and pour over the quinoa mixture then top with cheese. Finally, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If desired, broil for two minutes to brown the top.

4. Keto Low Carb Cauliflower Stuffing:

For a savory, low carb healthy stuffing recipe, try this alternative to traditional stuffing. Cauliflower stuffing has the same delicious herbal spices and aromas you'd expect, without the guilt from overindulging during the holidays.

Ingredients: 

1 large cauliflower head (cut into small florets)

1 large sliced onion

1/4 cup thinly chopped celery

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp ground sage

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Instructions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees, line with a baking sheet. In a large bowl, stir together chopped cauliflower, onions, celery, and garlic. Toss with olive oil, poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. Spread the mixture in a layer on the lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes until onions are soft and cauliflower has browned a little. Add parsley and pecans to the pan, and stir it together then roast for another 15 minutes until pecans are lightly toasted, cauliflower is well browned and onions are starting to caramelize.

5. Mini-Pecan Pies:

These bite-sized pecan pies are vegan and gluten-free but we can't promise that you won't want to single-handedly eat a whole batch. This is a Thanksgiving staple dessert that will satisfy your guests sweet tooth without the refined sugars and artificial ingredients found in other recipes.

Ingredients:

Crust:

2 Cups Oats

1 Cup Pecans

1/4th Cup Coconut Oil (melted, 1/4 cup maple syrup, pinch of salt

Caramel Filling:

1 cup pitted Medjool dates

6tbsp almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Pecans to top

Instructions: Begin by preheating oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse oats, pecans, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt together until combined. Scoop a spoon of the mixture into a mini tart pan and press down firmly with your hands. Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown then remove and allow to cool. Blend together dates, almond milk, vanilla, and salt until creamy and smooth. finish by using a knife to spread caramel filling into each pie, then top it off with a pecan.


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