Whether you’re hosting or just bringing a dish to share, you are likely starting to plan your Thanksgiving meal (you are starting, right?). I admittedly haven’t done a lot to plan the Thanksgiving meal I host, but we did order our turkey, and I’m starting to think about what I will serve.

Here are 5 tips to get you going and reduce your stress:

  1. Order food. If you haven’t ordered your turkey yet, do it asap! Our co-op requires ordering by 11/20 to ensure you get the size you need. And please, buy your turkey from a source you trust. You want pasture-raised and organic. Don’t give your family hormones and antibiotics! You may also be ordering breads, pies, or the whole meal! Make sure you don’t miss out if you plan to purchase ready-made items!
  2. Plan out your menu and make your shopping lists by Friday.
  3. Enlist help. Even if you’re hosting, everyone likes to contribute! Don’t do it alone.
  4. Organize your shopping list into a game plan. Buy what you can over the weekend and avoid making a big trip on Wednesday. You don’t want to fight those crowds (or deal with out-of-stock items you need!)!
  5. Make and prep anything you can ahead of time! You can bake pies ahead of time, make potatoes early and keep them warm in a slow-cooker, pre-cut veggies and squash so they just need to go in the oven, cook cranberries the night before, and some people even cook the turkey ahead and re-heat in the oven the day of (in stock to prevent drying). Decide what you can check off the list ahead of time to make sure your holiday is happy, not stressful!

On to the food….Are there healthy alternatives to some of your family favorites? Absolutely! These are some of our delicious family favorites!


No need to go crazy on appetizers. You will want to eat something before your big meal to prevent over-eating, especially if you eat later in the day like we do, but keep it simple and light.

Broccoli-Spinach Dip – instead of a mayo or sour cream-based spinach dip, try this! It’s so simple and everyone loves it, including my kids! It’s creamy without adding dairy. Simply sauté 1/2 teaspoon cumin and pinch of red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 30 seconds. Add 1 bunch broccoli (diced, stems included), 4 cups of fresh spinach (chopped), 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon or lime juice, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Keep adding water a tablespoon at a time to prevent sticking. The result? A creamy dip that is excellent served warm or room temp!

Turkey Veggie Tray – Have you seen these on Pinterest? See one here! If you have a few extra minutes to get creative with your veggie tray, try one!

Main Dish

Dress up your Turkey! – My mom always brings red beets that she cuts into star shapes with mini cookies cutters to line the rim of our serving dish. It make the dish so pretty, and my father-in-law and kids love to eat the beets!

Not doing turkey? – How about a lentil loaf or maple-grilled tempeh? Yummy!


Roasted Brussels sprouts – So delicious, even if you swear you don’t like Brussels sprouts! Get my recipe here.

Green beans with slivered almonds – please step away from the green bean casserole. This is so simple, much better for you, and actually tastes ‘real’. Blanch a large bunch of trimmed green beans by submerging in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then submerge in ice water to cool and then drain. Lightly sauté in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup slivered almonds, cook an additional 2 minutes and serve!

Cranberry Sauce – homemade is so much better than canned, and you lose all the refined sugar! Try this the night before: Simmer 2 cups fresh cranberries, 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1 teaspoon of orange zest, 1 pear (finely diced), 1 apple (finely diced), 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/3 cup of coconut palm nectar or maple syrup over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until thickened. Adjust sweetener as needed. Refrigerate until you eat!

Roasted Butternut Squash – I don’t mind mashed potatoes, but this is my starch of choice! See how I make mine here.


Pumpkin Hummus – Yummy alternative to pie! Lighter than pie and full of protein thanks to the beans (you’ll never notice!). Get the recipe here.

Pumpkin Cheesecake – For a healthier, dairy-free spin on pumpkin cheesecake, try this one from Minimalist Baker. (I always have good luck with their recipes!) A couple notes on their ingredients: Make sure to use organic tofu (don’t be scared, no one will know!), coconut oil and organic graham crackers for the crust, and either maple syrup or coconut palm sugar in the filling (NO brown sugar!). I might try this one too….

Other yummy options are baking apples or pears, drizzled with coconut oil and topped with cinnamon. Simple and so delicious!

If you have tips and recipes to share, please share them below! Happy Thanksgiving!