However you observe it, Thanksgiving is typically a time of year where family and friends get together to enjoy each other’s company. For some it’s also a time where we give thanks and reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. If you live in the United States, the holiday has historical importance and relevance to our country’s history. For a specific description of the holiday, see Google’s definition:

“an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, and is held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November. A similar holiday is held in Canada, usually on the second Monday in October.”

While Thanksgiving has deep history and it’s own meaning for everyone – for most people the day is often centered around the meal they enjoy with their family and friends. A lot of the time, the food people eat on this day is rich in both taste and calories. Trying new (and healthy) things during the holidays can be difficult, but for those who are in the process of making lifestyle changes with their diet, there are still plenty of healthy options out there. For anyone wanting to stick with lighter and more nutrient filled foods, or for anyone looking to try something new, here are some healthy alternatives.

Pumpkin Soup:

Mayo Clinic Dietician Tip:

Canned pumpkin puree is available all year. When pumpkins are in season, however, you can make your own puree by roasting a small pie pumpkin and processing the flesh in a blender or food processor.


3/4 cup water, divided

1 small onion, chopped

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

2 cups unsalted vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 green onion top, chopped

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Orange Cranberry Relish

Health Facts: One cup of this traditional favorite contains less than 50 calories. In addition, cranberries contain powerful nutrients called PACs (proanythocyanidins) that play a role in helping to maintain the health of bones, teeth and the immune system.


1/2 cup of Natural Pecans

3 cups Cranberries

1/2 cup Sugar

1 medium Orange

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 cup Juiced Orange

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Salad Greens with Pears, Fennel and Walnuts

Mayo Clinic Dietitian tip:

Resembling a rounded, swollen cluster of celery stalks with green-tinged ribs, fennel is related to the herb and spice seeds of the same name. All share a mild, sweet licorice flavor. Strip away any coarse outer portion of the fennel bulb before using in recipes.


6 cups mixed salad greens

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 medium pears, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

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Herb-rubbed Turkey au jus

Mayo Clinic Dietician tip:

Instead of adding butter to the turkey and serving it with gravy, this healthy version is complemented with an herbal rub and a flavorful au jus.


For the rub

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 whole turkey (about 15 pounds), thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup water

For the au jus

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup apple juice

1 cup defatted pan drippings

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Sweet Potato Puff

Health Facts: Sweet potatoes boast a powerful antioxidant (beta-carotene), which helps maintain healthy skin and also plays a vital role in eye health.. The complex carbs in sweet potato are also easy to digest and a great source of energy.


4 cups Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2/3 cup Sugar

1/3 cup Butter

2 Eggs

1 large Egg White

1/2 cup Milk

1 1/2 cup Vanilla Extract

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Cauliflower Mashed ‘Potatoes’

Mayo Clinic Dietician tip: This nonstarchy vegetable version of mashed potatoes is lower in calories and carbohydrates and a good source of vitamin C and folate.


1 head cauliflower

1 clove garlic

1 leek, white only, split in 4 pieces

1 tablespoon butter

Pepper to taste

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Pumpkin Morning Muffins

Health Facts: A half-cup of canned pumpkin contains only 42 calories (if you can, try and find fresh Pumpkin when in season), yet contains nearly four grams of fiber to keep your digestive system healthy and loads of vitamin A and potassium which is important for heart health and muscle function.


1/2 cup Vegetable Oil Spread

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

1 cup Canned Pumpkin

2 Banana-medium

1/4 cup Milk

2 eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup Flour All-Purpose

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 cup diced cranberries

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We hope you have a fun and safe holiday!