Cornbread stuffing, pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, a golden bird right out of the oven, family, a cool crisp morning, Macy’s Parade on the TV and a warm cup of coffee – I could go on and on. I love Thanksgiving because it’s all of the yummy things about Christmas, like spending time with the ones you love without all the pressure. You know what I’m talking about. Nothing says peace on earth like you and your spouse trying to assemble a Barbie Dreamhouse in the wee hours of the morning.

Thanksgiving has some of my most favorite recipes and dishes. The combo of turkey plus cranberry is hard to beat in my book. Today I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, with my signature healthy twist. I promise these are so yummy and simple that you and your crew will be happily gobbling them up.

Crockpot Cranberry Sauce

From the blog

A Foodie Stays Fit

I love this recipe because it’s one less thing in the oven. Better yet you can make it a couple days ahead and store in the fridge. Who doesn’t love cranberry sauce leftovers? Cranberries are also antioxidant and vitamin powerhouses. They are great sources of fiber, copper, and manganese. What’s not to love?


1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries, rinsed

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 tbsp bourbon (totally optional)

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Add the cranberries, sugar, and water to a crockpot. Turn to high. Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat for 2-3 hours until the cranberries have softened, and skins start to peel off. About 45 minutes before serving, add the bourbon and vanilla. Continue cooking over low. I like to add a pinch of salt at this point too. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken slightly before serving. If you choose to leave out the bourbon add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Delicious either way!

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

From the blog

Eating Bird Food

I love this recipe because it’s lighter in sugar than most versions of this Thanksgiving classic, but you’d never know. It’s also vegan and gluten free.


8 cups sweet potatoes (about 4 large potatoes)

1 cup canned coconut milk (light or regular)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg


1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats

1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour or almond flour

3–4 tablespoons coconut oil, in solid form

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into large chunks. Place the chunks in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Once done, drain well and let cool.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F and spray a little cooking spray on a 9×13 or 9×9-inch casserole dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pecans, oats, oat flour, and brown sugar. Cut in coconut oil with a fork or knife until the mixture is sandy with pea-sized chunks of oil. Set aside.

Place sweet potatoes into a large bowl and mash them with fork before adding coconut milk, maple syrup, oil, flaxseed, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the bowl. Mix until everything is combined.

Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle on the brown sugar and pecan mixture. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown, and the sweet potatoes are bubbling.

Stuffing Muffins

From the website Skinnytaste

I love these because, hello automatic portion control, and just about anything is cuter when baked in a muffin tin.


olive oil spray

12 ounces whole wheat French bread, cut into small cubes (9 1/4 oz if dried)

3 ounces diced pancetta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 shallots, minced

3 large stalks celery, minced

2/3 cup chopped parsley

10 fresh sage leaves, minced

3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning (if you don’t have on hand you can use a blend of black pepper, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, and sage)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, beaten

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

Let the bread sit overnight to harden. If your bread is fresh, preheat the oven and bake the bread cubes on two baking sheets at 250°F for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway until the bread is completely firm.

Increase the oven to 375°F. Spray a non-stick muffin tin with oil. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta until browned and the fat renders, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add butter; when melted add shallots, celery, parsley, sage, poultry seasoning and salt and cook on medium low until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine chicken broth and egg. In a large bowl add bread and combine with sautéed vegetables. Add chicken broth and egg mixture and combine well. If stuffing is too dry, add a little more broth or water until you have the right consistency. Let it sit 10 minutes.

Transfer the stuffing to the muffin pan. (If making ahead cover with foil and refrigerate). If making alongside a turkey, pour some of the pan juices from the cooked turkey over the stuffing. Bake uncovered 25 minutes, or until golden.

Healthier Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

From the blog

Real Food-Whole Life

You might be surprised that I went with apple versus pumpkin for the cherry on top of some of these delicious recipes. While I love all things pumpkin, for me it sure is hard to top an apple pie or cobbler. I love this recipe not only for dessert but also for snack and even breakfast. Since its naturally gluten, dairy, nut and refined sugar free, you can remove that eating leftover dessert guilt. Top it with some plain Greek yogurt and voila. Healthy breakfast, snack or dessert option.


5 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1 orange, zest grated and juiced

1 lemon, zest grated and juiced

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Topping:

1 ½ cups oat flour

1 cup whole, rolled oats

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 x 2-inch oval baking dish with coconut oil.

Combine the apples, zests, juices, ¼ cup maple syrup, and cinnamon in the baking dish, stirring well. To make the topping, combine the oat flour, whole oats, salt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil. Stir until well combined and crumbly. Scatter evenly over the apples. Place the crisp on a sheet pan lined with foil and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm. I love with a little dairy free vanilla ice cream or plain nonfat Greek yogurt.

Notes: Make your own oat flour for this recipe by placing 2 cups whole oats in a blender and blending until a coarse flour forms. You can buy pre-made oat flour, but I find making your own is much cheaper. Be sure to buy gluten-free oats if you want to keep the recipe gluten-free.

What are you making this Thanksgiving? Do you have a healthy spin on a holiday favorite? Don’t be stingy. Share!

Jessica Barnett is a Southwest Virginia girl married to a Greeneville native, a mom, personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, runner, herbivore and ice cream lover. To learn about working with Jessica, prospective clients may email

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