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Strategies for Navigating Holiday Meals & My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

One of the requests I get often is for recipes or meal ideas. Since Thanksgiving is next week in the US, I wanted to share some of my favorites.

I have made and enjoyed every single one of these over the years, many of them more than once. Some are lighter while others are more indulgent.

Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

Before we get to the recipes, let’s briefly talk about food.

Yes, there are ways to stick to your calorie budget and Thanksgiving may or may not be a day you want to do that. This can feel like a really personal choice because food is so much more than fuel. It is tradition and connection and culture and celebration. Food fuels our bodies but it also brings us together. We don’t “break bread” simply because we’re hungry- it is about gathering together, sharing stories, and opening our hearts.

I believe deeply in balancing the pleasures of food with good nutritional habits that are reaching toward a goal. Be INTENTIONAL about your food choices and ENJOY them fully.

Whether you feel guilty about what you're eating or you enjoy

every bite of it, the calories are the same. Choose joy, friends.

Consider your goals

I recommend taking a little time to think about your current goals before the holiday arrives (i.e. in a time of “cold cognition”). If you’re working on losing weight, consider how you might set your boundaries. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”- decide how you want to feel and let that guide your choices.

Continuing as many of your regular healthy habits as possible can help you avoid that “falling off the wagon” feeling.

Strategies that may help you stay close to your calorie & macro targets:

  • Don’t show up to the table feeling ravenous: have plenty of protein, fiber, and water early in the day

  • Get in 8-10k steps- maybe a Turkey Trot or a walk with family after the big meal

  • If possible, keep your servings of higher carb foods smaller if you plan to have dessert (you do plan to have dessert, right?! 😉)

  • If you’re having alcohol, drink slowly and have a glass of water in between drinks

  • Eat slowly and enjoy the company of friends and family

What you DON'T have to do:

  • Fast all day to “save room”

  • Skip foods you love to “stay on plan”

  • Work out extra hard to “burn off” treats

  • White-knuckle through hunger tomorrow to make up for what you eat today

  • “Cleanse” or “detox”

Thanksgiving is one day, but do be mindful of leftovers if you are hosting and have a strategy ready for enjoying those in the following days.

Ok, onto my favorite recipes!

Some are traditional and some are not. Most of them are vegetarian or vegan, but feel free to weave them into your own traditions or enjoy them along side your favorite turkey or other centerpiece dish. Don’t be afraid to buy things like rolls or pies- not everything has to be homemade or from scratch!


  • Cranberry brie bites

  • Garlicky dipping oil

  • Jalapeño poppers (maybe leave off the eyes 🤣)

  • Soft white cheese like brie (I love Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam or Domaine du Vallage) w/jam (apricot chili is great!) and crackers

  • Charcuterie board with apples, grapes, fuyu (not hachiya) persimmons, veggies, dips, spreads, crackers, mixed nuts or pistachios, olives- the sky is the limit here!

Main Courses (Traditional and Not):

Side Dishes:




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