• Atena

Healthy Thanksgiving Swaps ... and thoughts on how to make it all happen last-minute

Ahh, it's that time of the year again! The weather is getting chilly, Christmas songs are playing everywhere (including 24 hours a day, on repeat, in my head), and all I want to do is eat and watch holiday movies. So much food (yay!), so much family (potentially yay!), and almost time for Christmas (OMG OMG YAY)!!

Because we just moved into a new house in October my boyfriend and I had decided not to do anything for Thanksgiving, and to save it all for next year when we had all our furniture and everything ready. I pride myself with being an all-out type of person, so I didn't want to half-ass anything. But, as always, our plans changed: all of a sudden we found ourselves hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 7 people, and I started to panic and hyperventilate.

All I could think was I've made dinner for 3, maybe 4 people before, but never 7, and never a Thanksgiving dinner! EEK!

Fast forward through 30 minutes of intense panic, and I managed to relax. Two things got me to chill tf out: 1. my wonderful boyfriend, who over the years has learned how to take my crazy and turn it on its head; and 2. my OBSESSION with planning, making lists and decorating. So:

  • on Monday I buckled up and came up with a game plan: I made the menu, printed it out, and got my shopping list ready.

  • today I was at Trader Joe's bright and early and bought everything I needed (except cornstarch, which apparently TJ's doesn't carry, and I can't help but wonder why; regardless, I freaking love that place and the fact that they had everything else on my list).

  • Wednesday I'm going shopping at Williams and Sonoma and HomeGoods for some baking dishes, a roasting pan, a food processor and some table decorations. I will also be making the appetizers, brining the turkey, and prepping whatever food I can, to lighten the load for Thursday.

  • Thursday is Turkey Day! I'll start making the food bright and early and for those of you who want to keep an eye on me, go check out my Instagram stories -which will hopefully be full of good news and free of disasters (fingers crossed).

Any sane person would've preferred to have as much time as possible to prep for their first Thanksgiving dinner, but honestly I got a kick out of all this last minute prepping. It was all very fun and exciting (except for the 30 minutes of intense panic, but honestly those don't even count anymore), and the thought of decorating a table and making it look amazing was giving me all the motivation I needed.

I have linked and posted the recipes for the cocktails and appetizers I will be making, the sides, the gravy and cranberry sauce, and of course the turkey! Because I was in a time crunch I decided not to make any pie or dessert from scratch, and I bought Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie (*insert happy, satisfied face here).

And for those of you who already have their recipes on hand I have compiled a very quick list of tips on how to make Thanksgiving healthier and easier on your tummy, without actually sacrificing the taste.


  1. To the best of your ability avoid store bought sauces, gravy, stuffing, and pre-made foods: they come packed with added sugar, sodium, unnecessary (and unhealthy) fats and other chemicals and preservatives. I know, I know: this is pretty hard to do, and for some of you it might even be too late for that. If that's the case here's how you can compromise: make the cranberry sauce yourself. It is extremely easy to make, and just this one little home-made side will save you about 40-50g of added sugar

  2. Instead of mashed potatoes, make a sweet potato mash. You can follow the exact same steps as advised by your regular mash recipe, and just substitute regular potatoes with sweet potatoes, which are healthier and packed with complex carbs

  3. Make your turkey in the oven, instead of deep frying it. Not only is it healthier, but you are less likely to burn yourself, or cause a massive kitchen disaster

  4. Skip the whip cream on your desert, and savor every piece. At this point you are already pretty full, so taking your time on every bite will not only make it easier on your tummy, but it will also ensure that you really enjoy what you are eating. If at all possible, try to have a 30 min - 1 hr break between dinner and dessert. If it's too hard and all you can think about is that pie, maybe fill that hour with some family board games!

Happy Thanksgiving my loves!

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