Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of celebration, friends and family! It's also about a lot of FOOD and if you are on a path to wellness and have been trying to stick to an anti-inflammatory way of eating, the holidays can be very daunting. Luckily, it doesn't have to be! To help you along with an Anti-inflammatory Thanksgiving, we've got a handful of recipes below that are not only delicious but use ingredients that are low inflammatory and will slide right into your traditional menu!
This post was originally published in 2015 but has been updated in 2022 to reflect new information and ingredients!
While other people get super excited to dress up like promiscuous animals for Halloween or squeeze into fancy overcrowded, and overpriced restaurants on Valentine's Day, we reserve my enthusiasm for Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving can be an excuse to binge eat potatoes and heavy cream until you have to change your pants (or, at least, unbutton them). But this year, inspired by one of our contributors diagnosis, we thought we'd try to approach the holiday with a bit more balance and prepare an anti-inflammatory Thanksgiving. Yes, there will be pumpkin pie and green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, but there will also be decidedly less dairy, gluten and other inflammation-inducing foods.
The challenge: how to minimize those aforementioned ingredients without compromising taste. To help, we've turned to some of our favorite food magazines and blogs for healthy Thanksgiving recipes with equal parts nutrition and flavor. Take a look at the game plan below.
An anti-inflammatory Thanksgiving:
Appetizers: We always like to start with something light and healthy that requires virtually no time in the kitchen, like shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon and antipasto platters chockfull of veggies like artichokes, roasted red peppers and tangy olives. A tradition in one of our families is to serve this incredibly indulgent Cauliflower & Caramelized Onion Tart, but the Curried Sweet Potato Rounds with Honeyed Walnuts and Cranberries that we plan to add to the rotation this year will surely balance it out.
The Sides: Obviously there will be turkey (this is America!) and ours will be stuffed full of garlic and lemons and oodles of fresh herbs and bathed in olive oil. Now whether you're in the turkey loving camp or not, Thanksgiving, for most of us, is all about the sides and our Thanksgiving table wouldn't be complete without green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and spinach gratin. In years past when we've read those words, we saw comfort, creamy, velvety deliciousness. But now, all you may see is butter, heavy cream, cheese and a stomach ache. But wait! All is not lost!
After scouring the interwebs, we found just the alternatives we need to nourish our bodies and feed the souls, without sacrificing flavor. Replace canned cream of mushroom soup with a homemade version made with almond milk for a Vegan Green Bean Casserole (also make your own gluten-free crispy onions by pan-frying shallots in coconut oil). Swap mashed potatoes for crispy garlic smashed potatoes, use corn's natural milk to add silkiness to this creamless creamed corn recipe and indulge just a little and go all in on the Gruyere spinach gratin. It's all about balance.
Dessert: Fortunately, pumpkin pie is already a vegetable-centric dessert, so not too much needs to be altered in this department. In the past, we've usually made a variation of this pumpkin bourbon tart recipe, and this year will be similar. Only this time, we're going to use coconut palm sugar in place of refined white sugar, cornstarch instead of flour and coconut milk and oil in place of butter and cream cheese (inspired by this vegan, gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe).