Yes, It’s that wonderful month of the year..the month we celebrate THANKSGIVING!  As Americans, we typically begin the holiday season with this festive, 152-year-old tradition.  It’s a time when friends, family, and loved ones all gather ’round and give thanks and praise, hopefully not with a side of bickering and quarrel!

Although there is much discussion and debate on exactly when the Thanksgiving tradition started, it was not until 1863 that all states officially celebrated the holiday on the same day…the final Thursday of the month of November.  Thank you, Abraham Lincoln!

Okay, enough with the history lesson.  This is a fitness blog, so as a glorious tribute to this beautiful holiday, let’s talk food!  YUMMM!  Practicing self-control to avoid gluttonous behavior on this holiday can be somewhat of a challenge!  Trust us, we know!  It’s okay to splurge from time to time, especially when the food is just so good!  So, instead of consuming a boat-load of unnecessary fat and carbs, let’s curve the food intake towards a Health-ier route!  You can help maintain your gorgeous physique by binging on Health-ier Thanksgiving Dishes.

Here are 10 Recipes for Health-ier Thanksgiving Dishes. Enjoy!

1. Curried Pumpkin Soup:

Thanksgiving Recipe_2_PFW

When we think of Fall, we often think of pumpkins!  Start off your meal with this seasonal Curried Pumpkin Soup!


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 cups chicken broth (go for the less sodium kind or vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian)
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper for taste 

How To Make

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, curry, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne; saute, stirring often, until onion is soft and fragrant.
  2. Stir in apples, pumpkin, broth and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Puree soup in a food processor or a blender.
  4. Return soup to saucepan and heat on very low and to finish, top with chopped fresh parsley.

2. Arugula Salad With Apple, Fennel, and Pecans 

Thanksgiving Recipe_3_PFW

Why not start off with this delicious greenery so you don’t feel so guilty later on? (Oh! But I had my greens earlier!)


  • Arugula
  • 1 medium apple, quartered, core removed & sliced thin
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, sliced thing
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans

How To Make

  1. Arrange a bed of arugula on each plate. Top with apple, fennel and pecans. If you’d like, drizzle with vinaigrette.

3. Brussel Sprouts with Brown Butter and Sage

Thanksgiving Recipe_4_PFW

Greens on Greens on Greens…who said you couldn’t have more than one ‘green’ dish this Thanksgiving?  Brussel Sprouts like these can become a favorite at the dining table!


  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6-8 leaves fresh sage, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

How To Make

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss sprouts with olive oil. Place sliced side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, or until soft.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Cook sage until butter is lightly brown and you start to smell sage, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. When sprouts are done roasting, remove from oven and pour butter and sage mixture over top. Toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook time 30 minutes and serves 6-8

4. Kale and Butternut Squash Stuffing

Thanksgiving Recipe_5_PFW

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a good ol’ stuffing recipe.  Mix it up, literally, with this amazing Kale and Butternut Squash Stuffing!


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (divided) 
  • 1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (omit for vegetarian) 
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into 1/2- inch cubes 
  • 3 small leeks, halved and thinly sliced 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bunch kale 
  • 1 loaf stale whole-wheat bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth for vegetarian)

How To Make

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two small or one large casserole dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. In a large pot, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage, if using. Cook until browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add butternut squash, leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook until leeks are soft, stirring occasionally. Add kale, cover, and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until wilted.
  4. Add bread and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, and toss to distribute oil. Whisk egg and chicken broth together in a separate bowl, and then add to pot. Toss bread mixture around to coat and cook for about a minute, until liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add stuffing to prepared casserole dish(es) and bake for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cooking time 1 hour and serves up to 6

5. Sesame Garlic Roasted Asparagus 

Thanksgiving Recipe_7_PFW

For the chefs out there who want a dish that’s light and bright, this recipe’s a go-to.  20 minutes or so and you’ve stirred up a great accompaniment to that delicious turkey!


  • Fresh asparagus (always good!)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

How To Make

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Wash and trim the ends off the asparagus spears.
3. Lay the asparagus spears on baking sheet. Sprinkle olive oil, salt, garlic, and sesame seeds over the asparagus.
4. Roast for 15 minutes. Asparagus is ready when it is a nice bright green color and tender.

6. Apple Parsnip Mash

Thanksgiving Recipe_1_PFW

Limit the carb overload from potatoes this Thanksgiving by trying a delicately sweet, low-calorie puree alternative! 


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled & cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk (optional)

How To Make

  1. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Cook parsnips in a single layer until golden on the bottom, about 8-10 minutes. Flip, and add apples, water, cider, thyme and salt & pepper. Raise heat to medium-high and simmer, covered, until parsnips and apples are very soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, and let stand (covered to retain moisture) 5 minutes. Add mixture to a large pot and puree with a hand mixer, or puree in a food processor. Add remaining tablespoon of butter & milk as you puree the mixture. Add milk to make the mash creamier.  

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

7. Herb-Stuffed Turkey Breast With Mushrooms

Thanksgiving Recipe_7_PFW

Turkey is what Thanksgiving is all about, Right!?!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 pound mixed mushrooms 
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless turkey breasts (about 1 pound each)

How To Make

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and brush with oil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, sage, lemon zest, and olive oil, and stir to combine. Add mushrooms and occasionally stir for 10 minutes.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Lay turkey breast flat on a cutting board, smooth side facing up.  Lay a knife (a large one works best), parallel to the board, against breast center. Slice lengthwise, essentially cutting breast in half to make it flatter. But don’t cut all the way through— leave the other long side attached, so you can open it like a book and lay it flat.
  4. Spread half the herb mixture on each breast. Spread over 3/4 of the flattened breasts.
  5. Starting at the side of the breast with the filling, roll breast lengthwise and place on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. (If you’re worried about the breast falling apart, try tying it together with kitchen twine or securing the seam with toothpicks.) Brush tops of breasts with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the center temperature reads 165 degrees.
  7. To serve, slice at a diagonal to show this work of art some justice.  

Cooking time less than 1 hour and serves 2

8. Quinoa and Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushrooms 

Thanksgiving Recipe_8_PFW

Attention Vegans!  Don’t you dare miss out on the tummy-stuffing festivities this year.  No turkey or meat for you?  No problem!  Try this delicious Quinoa and Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushrooms and everyone will want to share! :)


  • 4 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups greens (spinach or kale work well)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 6 portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean

How To Make

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss sweet potatoes with oil and salt and pepper to taste on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping halfway through, until pieces are golden brown and cooked through.
  3. Just before the sweet potatoes are done cooking, remove sheet from oven and add spinach on top. Place back in oven for the last 2 to 3 minutes. Once spinach has wilted, remove pan from oven and cool until veggies are cool enough to handle. Lower oven to 400 degrees.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix quinoa, sweet potatoes, and greens. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Brush both sides of mushrooms with olive oil, and place gills up on the baking sheet. Spoon quinoa and sweet potato mixture into caps, mounding slightly in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked through.

Cook time less than 6 hours and serves up to 6

9. Health-ier Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Thanksgiving Recipe_9_PFW

Let’s do the youngsters some righteousness this Thanksgiving and introduce these decadent Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Perhaps start a tradition for the family?


  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal (optional; if omitted, add 1/2 cup flour) 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

How To Make

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt (if using) together in medium size bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat sugar and butter together with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, and mix at low speed until thoroughly blended. (Mixture will look curdled. Don’t panic.)
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients at medium-low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Use a large cookie scoop or ice-cream scoop to form cookies. Space them 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until edges begin to turn golden brown. Let sit for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cooking time 1 hour and serves 24 cookies 

10. Healthier Coconut Macaroons 

Thanksgiving Recipe_10_PFW

Don’t forget to make room for these little balls of delicious goodness! 


  • 1/3 cup coconut butter (sometimes called coconut cream concentrate)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried, sugar-free coconut flakes
  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 dash sea salt

How To Make

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan over low heat, melt coconut butter.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined. The result will be mealy but able to stick together.
  4. Form tablespoon-sized macaroons without packing them too hard.
  5. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until outsides have browned slightly.

Cook time less than 30 minutes and serves 4-6

PF&W is happy to lend a hand this Thanksgiving Holiday by suggesting these 10 Recipes for Health-ier Thanksgiving Dishes.  Committing to fitness requires tremendous kitchen-discipline, especially this time of year.  Don’t let one day of the year be such a hassle and burden because of what seems to be a parallel food universe working against you!  Instead, take control of your dietary lifestyle by adopting these amazing recipes.

From Coach Janis and the PF&W team to you, your family and friends…have a wonderful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Thank you to Greatist for food preparing instructions.