In preparation for U.S. Thanksgiving, we’ve updated our fabulous Whole30-approved Thanksgiving-inspired submissions with some brand new entries. A little background about these dishes, however.
First, we aren’t necessarily encouraging anyone to do a Whole30® during the holidays. However, all of these dishes are Whole30 compliant, because (a) everything in our Steal This Meal series meets those standards, (b) this is a good opportunity to show your family and friends that your dietary choices are both satisfying and delicious, and (c) we wanted to provide an alternative for for those of you who simply cannot eat conventional flour, dairy or other ingredients in “traditional” Thanksgiving dishes.
Finally, let’s get this out of the way right now. You know we wouldn’t normally promote “Paleo-ifying” a poor food choice (like bread-laden stuffing or sugar-drenched cranberry sauce). But in the once-a-year case of a family-centric, culturally significant holiday like Thanksgiving, we believe it’s okay to recreate a dish that is reminiscent of what we used to eat. Recreating a Whole30-friendly stuffing for an annual family dinner is not the same thing as justifying your “healthy” Paleo pancakes every morning for breakfast! (But you already knew that.) And we’re not including dessert recipes here, because Oprah knows you don’t need any help finding Paleo versions of sweet treats, right?
One last note : These recipes aren’t designed to taste just like the original. That would be impossible, and disappointing for your guests. Instead, we encourage you to present these Whole30 dishes as alternatives – traditional Thanksgiving fare with a twist.
Whole9 Thanksgiving “Stuffing”
This dish serves 8-10. We’ve used extra-lean ground beef and soaked walnuts, along with traditional spices and herbs, to give this “stuffing” the same feel and flavor as the original bread-based dish. Note, the extra-lean ground beef is the key – buy the leanest available. This will keep the stuffing from tasting too much like, well… ground beef, as much of the beef flavor is carried in the fat. This is best right out of the oven, and it smells just like the dish Dallas’ Mum makes. We thought it delicious, and the perfect accompaniment to turkey.
- 1 pound extra-lean ground beef (we used the 95% lean, organic, grass-fed beef from Whole Foods)
- 2 cups walnut pieces, very finely chopped/ground and soaked overnight (rinse several times before using)
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 4 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 apple, cored and finely diced (we used a Minnesota Honeycrisp)
- Several springs of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram (poultry mix), finely chopped
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop all the veggies, the apple, and herbs.
- Saute the beef and celery for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, making sure that the beef gets broken up into really small pieces as it cooks. (Big chunks are not very stuffing-like!) We used a big saucepan for this, as we didn’t want the contents to overflow once everything was mixed.
- Add the onion and apple, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the herbs, garlic powder, walnuts, and salt, and mix thoroughly. The beef should NOT be totally cooked at this point – there should still be some pink.
- Pull everything out of the pan, and dump it into a 9×13 baking pan (or two 6×9 pans), and bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes. Serve hot from the oven.
Cauliflower “Wild Rice” and Sausage Stuffing
This recipe comes from Whole30 pro and Paleo chef Erica Cooksey, also known as the blogess behind “Stuff I Make My Husband,” and serves 4-8 people. Erica notes, “Since rice normally clumps together a bit because of the starch, I added a beaten egg – though if you have an egg allergy, I am certain you could leave it out.” For variation, consider adding a diced green apple along with the veggies, or using a different nut instead of the pecans, such as hazelnuts, pistachios, or pine nuts.
- 1 head cauliflower, separated into florets and run through the shredding disk of a food processor for “rice”
- 1/2 lb Italian sausage (or some other form of Whole30 approved sausage)
- 1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 celery ribs, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 4 oz (weight) crimini mushrooms, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 Tbs minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Dash cayenne
- 1/2 cup toasted pecan chips
- 1 egg, beaten (optional)
- 1 tsp cold coconut oil, ghee, or clarified butter (I used ghee)
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, crumbling with a wooden spoon. When no longer pink, remove it from the skillet using a slotted spoon.
- Saute the onion in the sausage grease (there should be about a teaspoon) until just starting to soften, then add the celery and mushrooms. Saute until all the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, thyme, cayenne, and pecans.
- In a casserole dish, stir the cauliflower with salt to taste, using a pretty generous amount. Using a fork, toss it with the beaten egg, then thoroughly combine with sausage and the veggie mixture. Smooth the top and dot it with tiny pieces of the cold fat.
- Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden browned on top. Serve with roast chicken, turkey, or Cornish hens.
Whole9 Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce
Serves 8-10. While we normally don’t recommend using fruit juice or dried fruit as a substitute for sugar, some added sweetness was necessary to offset the serious tartness of the fresh cranberries. We’re okay with figs and apple juice as a sub for sugar in a special occasion dish like this. However, make sure your guests know that our more traditional sauce is still pretty tart in flavor! The flavors do meld with time, and this sauce tastes even better the second day – which means you can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge. This was so amazingly good, we put it on everything this week – eggs, baked Alaskan cod, even our burgers.
- 2 – 12 oz bags of fresh (not frozen) cranberries
- 1 cup of 100% pure apple juice (no added sugars)
- 1 large navel orange, washed
- 10 dried black mission figs, very finely chopped (make sure you cut the stems off)
- A dash or two of each: nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves
- Place the cranberries, apple juice, figs, spices, and ½ cup of water into a covered saucepan on medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a low boil for 10 minutes (until the cranberries “pop”), and turn down to low heat. Simmer (still covered) for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Squeeze the juice from the orange into the sauce, and finely grate the orange zest (use the whole orange peel!) into the saucepan.
- Keep on low heat (simmer) for another 15 minutes. Store in airtight container in fridge until ready to use. Serve cold for the best flavor.
Rosemary Mashed Fauxtatoes
This is another delicious recipe from Erica Cooksey, the blogess behind “Stuff I Make My Husband,” and makes about 4 cups. Erica says, “The original recipe used sage, but I had some rosemary in my garden so I went with that. You can substitute other fresh herbs, but don’t use dried for this. I pureed everything in my food processor to get it creamy and smooth; you can use a potato masher if you’d like but it will be lumpy and the cauliflower will be more detectable.”
- 1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, stemmed and cut into uniform florets
- About 1/2 lb turnips, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
- 1 Tbs fresh minced rosemary or other herb
- 1 Tbs ghee (can substitute olive oil or clarified butter)
- 1 Tbs coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp tabasco or hot pepper sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Generous amount of salt, to taste
- Truffle salt for sprinkling (optional)
- Bring an inch of water to a boil in a saucepan just large enough to hold the turnip chunks in a single layer. Add a generous pinch of salt, add the turnips, then layer the cauliflower on top. Sprinkle with salt, cover, and cook until very tender and just slightly overcooked. Drain in a colander.
- When cool enough to handle, add the veggies to a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to partially process half of them before you can add the rest. Process until completely smooth. Taste and add salt if desired.
- Serve warm, optionally sprinkled with truffle salt.
Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Turkey Breast
This recipe comes from our friend and Paleo chef Karen Puyleart, who blogs over at “Purely Primal.” Karen’s recipes and photos are so detailed, we’re going to send you over to her blog to check out the recipe, but remember – the best Whole30 Approved bacon comes from U.S. Wellness Meats, so order yours ahead of time!
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
Submitted by Kathleen Dusebout
Whole9 Note: There are a million turkey recipes out there, but we liked this one because it’s perfect for a smaller gathering, and it won’t tie up your oven for the whole day, which means you aren’t juggling the main course, vegetable side dishes and desserts in and out of one appliance.
- 1 bone-in turkey breast (can do two if you have a large slow cooker- just double the seasoning ingredients)
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbs. dried parsley
Place turkey breast(s) in crock pot. Sprinkle on the paprika; this will give it a nice, golden color. Then sprinkle on the garlic powder and parsley. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. If you are making two turkey breasts so you have plenty of leftovers, cook on LOW for 9-10 hours. (Note, there is no liquid added to the recipe – although some water will accumulate in the bottom of your cooker.) Place turkey breast(s) on cutting board and immediately cover tightly with foil for 15 minutes. Slice and serve!
Giblet and Mushroom Gravy
Submitted by Madoc Yng-Wong
- Turkey bits (neck, gizzard, liver, heart, other random stuff, and fat)
- 2-3 large handfuls of dried porcini, chanterelle, shiitake, maitake mushrooms (or any other variety you choose)
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large onion
- 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock/broth
- Reconstitute the mushrooms for a minimum of three hours in ten cups of warm water.
- Remove mushrooms once they’re rehydrated, reserve liquid.
- Rough chop the mushrooms.
- Brown giblets in a medium saucepan.
- Chop the onions, and add them to the giblets, retain on medium heat.
- When the onions are translucent, add the chopped mushrooms.
- When the mix starts to steam, add some salt and pepper and the bay leaf, and stock.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20-30 minutes, then add a cup of the mushroom liquid.
- Pull the bird parts out after another 20-30 minutes of simmering, adding mushroom water to keep everything wet as you go along.
- When you get to the end of the mushroom water, pull all of the solids out, and blend until smooth. Add back, and reduce until desired thickness.
Warm Spinach, Prosciutto, & Pistachio Salad
Submitted by Amanda Langowski
Amanda’s Note: both are family favorites, and the best part is they are super simple! This is especially nice when you have a million other things to worry about on Turkey day.
- 16 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 ounces sliced prosciutto, chopped into little squares (1/2 inch)
- 1/2 cup shelled & salted pistachios
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
- 1 lemon
Add the olive oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Once it is warm, thrown in the garlic and saute until it gets a little bit soft. Add the prosciutto, cook until it’s crispy. Turn the pan’s temperature to low. Add the spinach a bit at a time; as it starts to wilt, add another handful, turning and mixing often. You want the spinach lightly wilted, not completely cooked down. Once wilted, take it out of the pan, place in a serving bowl and squirt with lemon.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Squash, and Cranberries
by Ruth Sakya
Ruth’s Note: This recipe represents so much of who I’ve become – not only a change in the ingredients, but how I respect and treat the food. It features two veggies I used to avoid like the plague: Brussels sprouts and squash. I now think squash is sweet…when did this happen?
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
- 1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 2/3 to 1 cup duck fat (melted), or other appropriate fat of your choice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove skin, membrane, and seeds (reserve for future use) from squash. Cut squash into cubes. Trim and halve Brussels sprouts. Combine squash, sprouts, and cranberries in a large baking dish (or split into two if you don’t have a really large pan). Sprinkle salt on top and then add duck fat. Stir to combine. Place baking dish in the oven for 25 minutes or until the veggies are beginning to brown, stirring once or twice. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and cook another 25-30 minutes until the veggies (especially the brussels sprouts) are cooked to desired tenderness. Serve warm and enjoy!
Squash and sweet potato bake
Submitted by Amber Lee (http://www.giryascope.com)
Amber’s Note: Try to keep your relatives away when it comes out of the oven, this stuff is hot out of the oven, but it smells good ! Other recipes like this call for brown sugar, but really, that’s ridiculous. There’s so much sugar in the squash and sweet potato that it’s just not necessary.
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 c coconut oil (melted)
- 1 large (around 1lb size) sweet potato
- 1 small (around 1-1.5 lb size) acorn, butternut or other favorite squash.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Coat the bottom of a 10×10 dish with some of the coconut oil. Peel and cube the sweet potato. Peel, halve, clean and cube the squash. Place both in the dish and pour the rest of the coconut oil over the squash. Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg over the top, mix it all up, and cover it with foil. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Roasted Beets and Pistachio Butter
Submitted by Amanda Langowski
Amanda’s Note: Can you tell we love pistachios!? We just make huge batches and have them as a side dish with pretty much anything. These are great leftover, so don’t be afraid of having too much.
- 4 large beets – red, golden, or both. (1-2 beets per person)
- 1/2 cup shelled & salted pistachios
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Heat the oven to 375 F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rinse and scrub the beets, cutting off any leaves or little roots. Rub them with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, place them in a pan and cover with aluminum foil. Roast until tender and you can easily pierce with a knife; this will take about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.
While they are cooling, make your pistachio butter. Using a food processor, add 1/2 cup pistachios and pulse until they are finely ground. Then drizzle in olive oil – start with 1 tablespoon. Alternate adding 1 tsp water and 1 tsp olive oil until you get a really creamy texture, much like a very soft butter. If it gets too thin for your liking add in some more ground pistachios. (Note, I sometimes double the “butter” recipe, because it goes so quick!)
Once the beets are cool, remove the skins – they should come right off. Slice the beets in chunks, and sprinkle with a little bit of olive oil to make them glossy. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve the beets with the pistachio butter for dipping or spreading. One last note – you could make the beets the day before and let them chill in the fridge. Just take them out and warm them up a bit before serving and dressing.
Coconutty Butternut Squash
Submitted by Lisa Glenn
Lisa’s Note: We’ve already had thanksgiving here in Canada and I must say I felt like death afterward. I’m excited to see how everyone does with your Whole30 Thanksgiving! Here is a recipe for a dish I had at a client’s house this past weekend. It was delicious – almost felt like a “cheat”!
- 1 Large butternut squash
- 1 Can coconut milk
- 2-3 cups chicken broth (“Imagine” brand from Whole Foods is Whole30 approved – other brands, read your labels!)
- Dash of salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel and cut the butternut squash into cubes. Add 2 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil, simmer until fork tender. Drain off 1 cup of the broth and add in coconut milk (about half of a cup; more if needed). Add a dash of salt and pepper and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Blend in a blender or with a hand mixer – the texture should resemble mashed potatoes. Serve warm, with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
Root Vegetables with Cinnamon Walnuts
by Maria Fisher
Whole9 Note: This is one of our favorite vegetable submissions, sure to please even the pickiest Thanksgiving guest.
- 3 lbs assorted root vegetables, peeled and diced
- 1-2 cups walnuts, to taste
- 1 c apple cider (no added sugar)
- 3 tblsp coconut butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together cider, 2 tblsp coconut butter, salt and pepper in a 9×13-inch baking pan. Add root vegetables, mixing until coated. Cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes, uncover and stir vegetables. Leave uncovered and continue cooking, stirring every 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender – about 1 hour more.
While the vegetables are cooking, place walnuts in a cast iron skillet and cook over low heat, stirring frequently to avoid scorching walnuts. Remove from heat and add coconut butter, cinnamon and, if desired, a pinch of salt. Stir until walnuts are coated. Spread on a plate or cookie sheet to allow walnuts to cool slightly. When vegetables are finished, transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon walnuts.
From all of us at Whole9, we wish you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving! (Want to see our other healthy Whole30 recipe selections? Check out our Recipes category.)
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That cranberry sauce recipe would make a killer topping for “Thanksgiving in a burger” Turkey burgers. Sauteed mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, all chopped fine, then mixed in with lean ground turkey. Sweet!
Amber Lee says
Hey all! My last name (was Daniels 2 years ago) and web site have changed since ever so long ago when this was first published, if you would be so kind to update it, I would appreciate it quite a bit! =)
Amy Ayers says
These recipes look fantastic!! My husband, kids, and I are going to spend the holiday with his family in NY. I think I am going to make up a few of these to bring along so there is something that I want to eat. I don’t want to let the holidays get in the way of my eating for my health! And I don’t want to starve either. :)
I gave the Coconutty Butternut Squash a trial run last night – delicious! I recommend draining all of the broth, though, after cooking and before adding the coconut milk. It was a little looser than I wanted (almost like a thick soup), so next time (Thanksgiving day) I will prepare with less liquid. I am also planning to garnish the dish with a little toasted coconut.. GREAT dish, though, without the butter and sugar in the traditional butternut squash puree. Thanks for the idea.
In the recipe for root vegetables with cinnamon walnuts, it doesn’t list the quantity of walnuts. I’d love to make this but I’m not very kitchen savvy, so not great at improvising. help! thanks.
Melissa @Whole9 says
@Renee, for 3 cups of root vegetables, I’d use around a cup of walnuts – two cups if you really like them. Give it a try – you can always toast more, and add them until you feel there’s a good balance.
@Martha, thanks for the clarification! Love the idea of toasted coconut.
@Amber, we’ll update – thanks!
Susan And Will says
Wow! Thank you guys! Your Whole9 Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce is the BOMB!! Truly the BEST we’ve ever tasted! We’re keeping this recipe for life :)
Aloha, Susan and Will!
So glad you enjoyed it. We made that same dish for my Dad and Susan down in the Florida Keys, and it was delicious!