Written by Lisa Dreher, MS, RDN, LDN
Thanksgiving Makeover

Thanksgiving Makeover

It’s that time of year again. A time to reflect on that which we are grateful, a time for being with loved ones, and time for a whole lot of food! I bet at least one of your fondest Thanksgiving memories involves food, I know that’s true for me. One side of my family is largely Puerto Rican, so I grew up eating a spin on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, we had the large turkey centerpiece, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce, but we also had platanos (sweet fried plantains), rellenas (fried meat-stuffed potatoes), large pots of rice and beans, and sweet potatoes swimming in sugar, maple syrup, and butter. With diabetes and heart disease in my family, I have been on a mission to find delicious and healthy alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving fare. Don’t get me wrong. I still indulge and enjoy a smaller amount of my favorite dishes that I only eat this time of the year. Yet there is room to evolve our menu in a way that satisfies our taste buds without putting so much stress on the body. As I’ve experimented through the years, there have been some hits and some, well, not as much. So, this year I decided to reach out to my coworkers and put together some of their favorite Thanksgiving recipes to try myself and share with all of you. We encourage you to try one (or more) of these tasty crowd pleasers.


Simple Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

Deborah Phillips, MS, LDN, CHES

Serves: 6-8

Ready in about 50 minutes

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli crowns
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Wash and cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower and broccoli with the oil, salt, and pepper until coated evenly and spread on a large baking sheet.
  3. Place in the oven and bake until fork tender and lightly browned, about 45 minutes.

Serving suggestions:

I love this dish as is–I simply toss it in my favorite oven-safe casserole dish and serve immediately or place in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve. If you’d like to add a little zip, this simple sauce is perfect: Whisk together the juice of half a lemon, half an orange, and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a small bowl until combined. Drizzle the sauce over the dish and add a little grated orange and lemon peel, along with some chopped fresh parsley (if you’d like) and serve!


Brussels with Bacon

Jiori Orfanos, RN

Serves: 6

Ready in about 25 minutes

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 1 pound carrots, cut diagonally into ½ inch thick pieces
  • 2 center-cut nitrate/nitrite-free bacon slices, diced
  • 1/4 cup chicken bone broth
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper



  1. Cook shallot in 1 tablespoon butter/ghee in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Add carrots, Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add water and cover skillet, then cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in vinegar, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, put bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon and sprinkle on the vegetables. Serve and enjoy!


Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Mark Hyman, MD

Serves:  3

Ready in about 35 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into large florets, stem sliced ½ inch rounds
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water



  1. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the cauliflower, apple, onion, and curry powder.
  2. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and mix well until the cauliflower is coated in the oil and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, for 8 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and add the water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is completely tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and pulse the cauliflower mixture until it is creamy but thick, similar to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add a little more water if necessary, but be careful or you’ll wind up with cauliflower soup. Check the taste and add more salt or pepper if preferred. Any leftover mashed cauliflower can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


Kale with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate

Eileen Bote, RD, LDN, IFNCP

Serves: 8-10

Ready in 1 hour

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, cut into ¾” cubes
  • 4 teaspoons coconut oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole head garlic
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds Tuscan kale (about 2 large bunches), stemmed, leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (1 ½ ounces)
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1 large pomegranate)



  1. Heat oven to 425oF. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together squash, 2 tsp. coconut oil, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Place whole head of garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 tsp. Melted coconut oil, wrap securely in foil, and place on baking sheet with squash. Roast, stirring squash occasionally after the first 15 minutes, until squash is golden and garlic is tender, 35-40 minutes.  Remove garlic and squash from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp. of coconut oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until about half are golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with ¼ tsp. salt.  Set aside.3.   Cut off the top of the garlic head and squeeze all of the softened garlic into a medium bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, shallot, 1 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper, and then whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine kale with about 3/4 of the dressing, and use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. Add more dressing as needed (you may not need all of it). Reserve any leftover dressing for another use.
  4. Add roasted squash, parmesan, and pomegranate seeds to bowl; toss together to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

To Prep Ahead:

Dressing can be prepared 3 days ahead,then cover and chill. Squash and garlic can be roasted, and kale can be sliced 1 day ahead; place separately in airtight containers and chill. Salad can be tossed together 30 minutes ahead; keep at room temperature.To make dairy free, omit the cheese.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com


Pumpkin Spiced Donut Holes

Deborah Phillips, MS, LDN, CHES

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons psyllium husk powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • optional: oil for frying (coconut oil)



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.Mix the eggs, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, maple syrup apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract to a large bowl and whisk until mixed well.
  2. Sift the coconut flour into the wet ingredients then add the remaining ingredients. Whisk well or beat for a minute or two with a hand mixer. Make sure it is well combined. The batter/dough will be very thick.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. If you want your doughnut holes fried, you can heat ½”coconut oil or high heat canola oil in a cast iron pan and fry for about 2 minutes on each side.


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