Healthy Family  >  Replace Guilt with Gratitude This Thanksgiving {Recipes}

Replace Guilt with Gratitude This Thanksgiving {Recipes}

Replace Guilt with Gratitude This Thanksgiving

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just one week away! If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that one of my annual traditions is to remind you (and me!) to leave food guilt far, far away from the holiday table. Just think of that guilt as the uninvited guest to the party!

While Thanksgiving is always a big feast, it’s also a day focused on family, love, tradition, and most of all, gratitude. Eating the foods that we’ve enjoyed our entire lives on this day isn’t just a delight for the palate; it also connects us to memories of previous holidays spent appreciating Grandma’s apple pie or Aunt Susan’s corn bread pudding and feeling their love. Just like any meal, Thanksgiving dinner should nourish your body and your heart.

So this year, let’s count memories, not calories or servings of stuffing! Let’s turn our attention to the true meaning behind Thanksgiving, and give thanks. Let’s take a moment before we eat and focus on gratitude for a table full of abundance – both the love and the fresh food. Really feel it in your body; you’ll soon notice that it’s hard to feel guilt when you’re overwhelmed by deep gratitude.

Now that we're feeling grateful, it's time to prepare for the feast! I always choose a few dishes that have been passed down through the generations (and make them in all their white flour, not-so-healthy-fat glory), remembering the people who first cooked them for me. Then I mix the old with the new so that my menu becomes a combination of traditional dishes and fresh recipes that modernize our Thanksgiving table.

Replace Guilt with Gratitude This Thanksgiving

If you’re looking for healthy recipes to tuck between those family classics, here are some of my Thanksgiving Day favorites from the last few years, along with a few new and updated dishes, too!

Start Smart My yearly reminder: Don’t skip breakfast in an attempt to “save” calories for the big meal. You need plenty of energy to fuel all that chopping and mixing and simmering (and small talk!). Balance your blood sugar early in the day with healthy fats, fiber, and protein. My Green Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl is festive and nutrient-dense – or try a warm sweet potato smoothie to get into the cozy spirit of the day right away.

Greet Your Guests Your guests might need a little something to tide them over and keep their spirits (and blood sugar) up before the main event. My Spiced Roasted Carrot Hummus or new (and bean-free!) Roasted Cauliflower Hummus, served with colorful veggies, are pretty – and light enough to leave plenty of room for the feast. If you prefer something more traditionally comforting, fill some mugs with my updated Butternut Squash Soup garnished with crunchy Roasted Chickpea Croutons.

Replace Guilt with Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Go for Green My classic Roasted Root Vegetable Salad over a bed of greens with maple-Dijon dressing adds a delicious splash of color to the table. This elegant and seasonal Beet, Fennel and Orange Salad is a beautiful addition to your meal. Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Almonds and Dates are an all-time favorite that I usually only make once a year! And you can never go wrong by keeping it simple with Roasted Asparagus or Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

(Okay, guilty: I take every opportunity to add some color to the turkey and mashed potatoes! It looks beautiful, and it’s great for you.)

Take Sides Searching for a lighter alternative to mashed potatoes? Check out my now classic Mashed Cauliflower with Garlic. (Even my guys approve!) And my amazing friend Pamela Salzman’s Stovetop Cauliflower with Pomegranate Molasses is out of this world. Pamela also just shared a new Cornbread Stuffing with Mushrooms and Kale that is a healthy twist on a traditional dish!

For vegetarian or guests who prefer a meatless holiday, my new favorite sheet pan dinner is hearty and loaded with a hefty dose of plant-based protein. It makes a nice side, too!

For the past two years, I’ve prepared this Sweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Nut Crumble from Oh She Glows, and it is always a huge hit. Or keep it simple with Roasted Sweet Potatoes that are popular, even with young kids.

Replace Guilt with Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Get Saucy To avoid excess refined sugar, my Superfood Cranberry Sauce with orange and chia seeds is now a permanent addition to our meal and has replaced less nutrient-dense, store-bought versions.

End Sweetly The Salted Maple Apple Galette from Pamela Salzman will be making an appearance AGAIN at my table. For something more traditional, try this Pumpkin Pie that’s free of grains, dairy, and refined sugar. And if you want to end the holiday with a quick pick me up, my chewy (and vegan!) chocolate chip cookies are a reliable crowd pleaser and (dare I say?) healthy!

Replace Guilt with Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Ditch the Guilt If you do overindulge at your holiday feast, remember that negative self-talk does more harm to your body than the extra helping of stuffing or slice of pecan pie. Kindness towards yourself is always the answer. But if you’re still feeling down, my 5 questions to end food guilt can help!

Remember, tomorrow’s a new day. Move your body. Get outside with your houseguests. Load up on fruits and veggies. Try my cleansing green lemonade or mood-boosting matcha smoothie. And don't forget: you are the creator of your thoughts, and you have the power to change them.

Here’s to a happy (and delicious!) Thanksgiving filled with gratitude in place of guilt.


  • What wonderful, fun, fall photos! And that colorful roasted veggie delight OMG!

  • Beverly Rosenstein says:

    Gratitude is the key to moving closer to your inner being as well as the world around you. I’m grateful for learning in all my infinite wisdom that shame & guilt are manmade feelings, not worth a farthing!
    Life is a game of balance without excessive behaviors.
    Elise’s lessons nudge me further into self-knowledge when I can go astray at times.
    On holidays feel free to indulge & evolve into a more mindful celebrant. Kudos to Elise for reminding us.

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