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Thanksgiving Feast Tips

Thanksgiving Feast! — Great Tips from Danielle Sikorski, registered dietitian


Thanksgiving is by far my favorite Holiday. You don’t have any pressure to find the “perfect” gift or make sure that you’ve wrapped, decorated, cooked, cleaned, etc. Instead, you get to focus on friends and family. It is a wonderful time for fellowship and reflecting upon the endless list of things that we have to be thankful for. One of the things we so easily take for granted is FOOD. Food is sustenance, food is nourishment, food is medicine, and food provides an excellent to gather with people you love!

Thanksgiving doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving to me without the following staples:

  • Turkey (of course!)
  • Stuffing (gluten free)
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Biscuits (gluten free)
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Macaroni and Cheese (though unfortunately now, I can’t eat it because I have Celiac Disease and a dairy intolerance and it just isn’t the same…with all of the other fixings I manage to survive J)

This year for Thanksgiving I’m also making:

  • Celery Root and Parsnip Mash (recipe below) (Due to a nightshade intolerance, for me, this will replace mashed potatoes but my husband insists on still having Garlic Mashed Potatoes.)
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Braised Cabbage
  • Beet ,Butternut Squash, and Kale Salad
  • Collard Greens (I’m from the South…you HAVE to have these!!)

Even Dietitians eat dessert

  • I’m making a TO DIE FOR flourless chocolate cake (recipe below) and gluten free oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
  • My husband is making Pumpkin Pie (but of course)
  • My friend is making Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pecan Pie
Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanksgiving Feast!

Are you hungry yet for that Thanksgiving meal?

I know I am! I seriously can’t wait. If you didn’t notice from my substitutions above, I have MANY food intolerances. I have Celiac Disease which means that I have to avoid all gluten (the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye). On top of that, I have severe intolerance to eggs, dairy, soy, nuts, most fruit, coffee and some nightshades (tomatoes and potatoes). Yikes! Nevertheless, I have found so many wonderful options and I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Even on Thanksgiving I make versions of my favorites to make sure that I can enjoy the meal with everyone else! To avoid over-eating and making this holiday too glutinous, I have some tips that I use and hopefully you can to.

To begin, I start my day with a good workout. I love to run and I’m an early riser so I’ll likely be up by 5:30 and have a nice run. This gives me energy and gets my metabolism humming. This will also help to offset some of the calories I consume later in the day. I’m usually not very hungry when I first wake up but if I am, I’ll grab a few slices of turkey for some quick protein. Other good options would be a hardboiled egg, yogurt, or piece of whole grain toast with a tablespoon of nut butter.

After my workout, I’ll make sure to have a quality balanced breakfast. This is KEY. Many try to “save up” calories for the main meal but this will only service to sabotage you for many reasons.

  1. You’ll be tired and cranky and won’t enjoy the fellowship with friends and family.
  2. You’ll be so ravenous that you’ll over-eat at dinner and regret it.
  3. You’re more inclined to mindlessly snack on hors d’oeurves , which easily become the calorie equivalent of several meals.

Your breakfast should be high in protein.  According to experts at the University of Missouri ,  a breakfast rich in protein significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods in the evening. This will set the pace for the rest of the day. It’s also important to have a healthy fat source and complex carb (whole grain, fruit or veggie) to make it a complete meal and keep you satisfied.

My breakfast will be a brown rice English muffin, 4oz of nitrite free all natural turkey breast, ½ avocado and mustard (I’m a mustard freak). After my run, I need some complex carbs to replenish my energy stores as well and protein and fat to help with muscle recovery.

Some other great Thanksgiving options are:

  • Omelet made with 2 whole eggs, 2 cups of veggies (spinach, mushrooms, peppers, asparagus, etc) have with 1 slice of Whole Grain toast and top with 1/4th sliced avocado or 2 tbsp cheese.
  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal mixed with ½ cup blueberries. Top with 2 tbsp nuts, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and 2 tsp brown sugar, honey or stevia. Have with 1 hardboiled egg, 2-3oz of turkey or mix in ½ scoop vanilla protein powder!

I will have to go into work for a little bit but by noon I’ll be done and heading home to cook! Our main Thanksgiving meal will be at 4pm. At noon I plan to have a balanced meal to keep my blood sugar stable and to keep me from over eating the wrong things later. I want to enjoy my dinner meal…not be so light headed from poor nutrition that I can’t enjoy it! This meal for me will be 4oz of turkey meatballs made with 93% lean organic ground turkey from Costco. I top this with ½ avocado, salsa (I love salsa) and have with 2-3 cups of veggies (my favorites are broccolini, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, yellow squash, lightly steamed with crushed garlic and a little sea salt).

I AM human so I probably will have a few bites of cookie dough and I just might lick the spoon when making the flourless chocolate cake but I’m doing it for the good of my guests! They can’t eat something that doesn’t take good…am I right?

When the main Thanksgiving meal rolls around at 4pm, I can guarantee I will be ready to eat by then.  I plan to enjoy all of my favorites but I will try to keep to the following principles:

  • Pile At LEAST half of my plate with veggies
  • Fill up on good quality protein (TURKEY!!)
  • Incorporate healthy fat (I’ll be using olive oil to roast my veggies and I’m sure I’ll get enough healthy fat without trying….)
  • Keep carbohydrate portions in check! Thanksgiving can be VERY carb-heavy, which can leave you sluggish and aren’t as friendly on your waistline. Excessive intake of carbohydrates on a regular basis can have negative impacts on health. A study conducted by the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, suggests that higher total carbohydrate intake, related to lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and higher serum triglyceride levels. Results suggest that there is a unfavorable effect of increased intake of highly processed carbohydrate on lipid profile, which may have implications for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.
  • Chose complex carbs as opposed to simple when possible (sweet potatoes, whole grain rolls, etc ).
  • Tread lightly with sides. This can be difficult, as there are SO MANY good options! Keep portions to 1/4th cup serving or less. This way, you have a taste and enjoy it!
  • If there are certain items that you really love….DON’T eat the things you could care less about. Make your meal count!
  • Eat a small amount of dessert and savor it. As you saw above, I’m making a flourless chocolate cake AND chocolate chip cookies. Again, I’m human and I like my sweets so I will eat both but I’ll keep my portions small.

Don’t let this time be stressful for you. Don’t obsess over the food. Relax, if you eat well MOST of the time…one day of a little indulgence isn’t going to break the bank.  Be patient with yourself and give yourself grace. Chose the foods that you love the MOST and avoid those you could go without. Try to fill up on high fiber veggies and turkey and enjoy the rest in moderation. Focus on ALL that you have to be thankful for! Enjoy good conversation and go ahead and turn on the Christmas music 😉

Now a few recipes for some of the dishes that will grace my Thanksgiving table.

Celery Root and Parsnip Mash

By Chef Allie Wolfe Phelps

Makes 6 side dish servings


  • 1 celery root
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt – divided
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper, freshly grated
  • 2 Tablespoons + 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, diced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place a large roasting pan in the oven as it preheats – this will give the vegetables a nice golden sear when they are added to the hot pan
  3. Meanwhile, peel the skins off both the celery root and the parsnips with a vegetable peeler or large knife.  Chop each vegetable into 1 inch sized pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the pieces with the Tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of white pepper and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  5. Carefully add the vegetables to the pre-heated roasting pan, stirring quickly to evenly distribute the pieces
  6. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the pieces are lightly browned
  7. When you are 20 minutes into the roasting of the vegetables, heat a medium sized saucepan and add the additional 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  8. When the oil is hot, add the diced leeks and sauté until they are softened – about 5 minutes
  9. When the vegetables are finished roasting, add them to the saucepan and stir to coat them in the leeks
  10. Add the chicken or vegetable broth to cover the vegetables by ¼ inch.  Bring broth to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer
  11. Simmer until the vegetables are soft and falling apart
  12. Gently puree the mixture with an immersion or standard blender to desired consistency
  13. Season with the ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and/or additional salt if necessary
  14. Transport to serving platter and dish up hot.


Flourless Chocolate Mountain Cake (Gluten & Dairy Free)
from Yammies Gluten Freedom
Serves 10-12

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped dairy free chocolate or chocolate chips
6 eggs ( I do have an egg sensitivity BUT I’m just going to deal with it)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup strong coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used a mix of dutch process and regular)
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped dairy free chocolate or chocolate chips
3/4 cup coconut milk

Chocolate Curls

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three to five 8 inch cake pans (depending on how many layers you want) and line with parchment paper.
Melt the oils and chocolate chips in the microwave or on the stove top.
Meanwhile beat together the eggs and sugar for about five minutes at high speed until pale and more than doubled in volume. Add the coffee and vanilla to the eggs and beat until combined. Sift in the cocoa and salt and mix again until combined. Stream in the melted chocolate and oil and beat until combined. Divide into prepared cake pans and bake for about 15-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out with some crumbs attached but no longer wet.

For the ganache, melt together the chocolate and 3/4 cup of coconut milk in the microwave. You’ll want to turn the microwave power down to about 30% and stir often or use a double broiler. You can use the ganache just like this, or you can whip it up a bit for some added volume. Place the bowl of melted chocolate in a larger bowl of ice water and whip until it fluffs up a bit.


Sweet Potato Casserole (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

Prep time:  25 mins Cook time 45 mins Total time 1 hour 10 mins

Author: Brittany Mullins

Serves: 16


  • 8 cups sweet potatoes (about 3-4 large potatoes)
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans (omit for nut allergy)
  • ⅓ cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats
  • ⅓ cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut oil, in solid form


  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350° and spray a little cooking spray on a 9×13 or 9×9 inch casserole dish.
  3. 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.
  4. Place sweet potatoes into a stand mixer and mix using the flat beater until creamy. Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the mixer. You can also use a blender or food processor, blending the sweet potatoes in batches.
  5. Pour the sweet potatoes 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.


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Danielle Crumble Smith

Danielle is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist currently living in Colorado though she is originally from TN and has lived in AK, CA, and NV. She and her husband, Colton, have two crazy dogs and are expecting twins in August. She received her degree in Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science from California State University at Northridge and has since worked in a variety of roles as Dietitian over the past 7 years. Danielle has experience working in both clinical inpatient settings as well as outpatient. Her client/patient population has spanned from individuals with Food Allergies, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Eating Disorders, Autoimmune conditions, Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Sports Performance and Weight Management. In her free time, Danielle loves hiking with her husband, having FaceTime dates with family and doing anything outside!




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