Stay Healthy, Stay Happy: Thanksgiving Recipes

The holiday season is officially upon us. We know this because Halloween is over, Starbucks released their red cup and retail stores have snowy displays in their windows.

First up is Thanksgiving, a holiday focused on gratitude and [lots of] eating. Whether you’re cooking dinner at home or tasked with bringing a side dish to grandma’s, there is a way to make dinner healthier without sacrificing taste and that warm, fuzzy post-meal feeling.

For starters, keep an eye on what you’re cooking with. In many instances, applesauce or coconut oil can replace butter and natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey can replace sugar. You can also easily make sides gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan to accommodate allergies.

The recipes shared below from Stay Healthy, Stay Happy are in fact gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and vegan. Oh, and they are all delicious. The first one is a simple, delicious sweet potato dish. The second dish is another side featuring quinoa and acorn squash. Finally, round out the meal with a nice dessert.

Side Dish: Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

sweet sweet potatoes CG

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

3 large sweet potatoes, washed and chopped into cubes
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp sea salt


Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Toss well so each potato cube is coated with oil and cinnamon.

Spread the potatoes out on the baking sheet so there is little to no overlap. Bake for 30-35 minutes, removing the pan halfway to toss the potatoes. Once the potatoes start to crisp and brown, they are done.

Serve immediately or bake ahead and reheat in the oven right before the meal.

Side Dish: Quinoa with Acorn Squash and Cranberry
acorn squash CG

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

1 1/2 cups dried quinoa
3 cups of water or vegetable stock
1 acorn squash
4-6 cups of kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oven to 375°F.

Slice the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Place the squash flesh down in a baking pan. Next, add 1/2 inch of water to the pan and roast the squash for 30-45 minutes. Test doneness by poking with a fork (it should be tender).

While the squash is cooking, start the quinoa. In a large pot, add dried quinoa and 3 cups of water or vegetable stock. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy. Right before the quinoa is done, add the kale so that it can wilt.

When the squash is done and slightly cooled, peel the skin off and chop into bite-sized cubes. If you are short on time, take a spoon and scoop out bite-sized pieces of squash from the skin. In a serving bowl, add squash, quinoa, oil, vinegar, cranberries, salt and pepper. Toss and serve warm.

Dessert: Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

coconut chocolate chip cookies CG


1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or oat flour for gluten-free)
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup soft coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/4 cup white sugar)
1/4 heaping cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1 egg (or 1 T ground flaxseed + 3 T of water for vegan)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 chocolate bar, or 1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chips (use vegan if needed)
1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
*You might need 1 Tbsp of almond/coconut milk to bring a drier batter together


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in one mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk/blend coconut oil, sweeteners, egg and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Your batter might be on the drier side depending on which flour and sweeteners you chose. If this is the case, add the milk. Start with 1 T at a time. Finally, fold your chopped chocolate bar into your cookie batter.

Chill batter in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.

Roll cookies into balls. Place cookies on a non-stick cookie sheet (or one lined with parchment paper). Bake for ~10-15 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Comment with any questions!

Emily_SHSHEmily McLaughlin is a licensed Zumba Fitness instructor and vinyasa yoga teacher living in Boston. By day, she works a full-time desk job; by night (and weekends), she spreads her love for movement around the city. Emily currently teaches at a variety of locations including EveryBodyFights by George Foreman III and with MoveWith. Aside from teaching, she loves to create recipes that are easy-to-follow, quick-to-prepare and, of course, as healthy as possible. Find them on Stay Healthy, Stay Happy. You can also follow Emily on FacebookInstagram, & Twitter!


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