Dinner rolls. Stuffing. Sweet potatoes. Your average Thanksgiving dinner tends to be excessively filled with carbohydrates. And while everyone blames turkey for post-meal sleepiness, it's actually the spike and crash that comes from refined carbs that usually does it.
If you want to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner but avoid feeling like a sloth afterward, it's key to 1) balance heavier dishes like stuffing and casseroles with fresh vegetable sides, 2) eat a balance of carbohydrates and protein and 3) eat more whole grains, rather than refined carbohydrates. Whole grains don't cause the same blood sugar spike (and then crash) that refined carbohydrates do, and can be easily substituted for white carbs in most classic Thanksgiving side dishes.
It IS possible to have a delicious holiday meal without the food hangover. These 19 recipes are so tasty you won't even notice how healthy you're eating—until after dinner, that is. Warning: You might feel awesome and you'll certainly have room for pumpkin pie.
Lemon Cauliflower Dip
Keep pre-meal appetizers light with this lemony herbed cauliflower dip and crudités from Edible Perspective.
Image: Edible Perspective
Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Puree
Another good pre-meal option: Sweet potato and pumpkin puree from Vanilla & Spice.
Image: Vanilla & Spice
Double Nut Soup
This Urban Vegan seasonal soup recipe, with butternut squash, garlic and almond milk, would make for a light and easy-to-assemble start.
Image: Urban Vegan
Roasted Leeks & Brussels Sprouts
When done right, like in this recipe from Plums in the Icebox, roasted leeks and Brussels sprouts can be every bit as satisfying as star sides like sweet potatoes.
Image: Plums in the Icebox
Pumpkin Soup with Sage and Bacon
Another seasonally appropriate soup option: Pumpkin soup with sage and bacon, via 5th and State.
Image: 5th and State
Green Beans Almondine
With so many elaborate dishes on Thanksgiving, almonds and a little olive oil are all you need to dress up green beans, according to this recipe from The Gourmand Mom.
Image: The Gourmand Mom
Squash, Apple & Blue Cheese Salad
If you're going to serve a salad on Thanksgiving, it needs to somehow stand out. With butternut squash, apple slices, blue cheese and a creamy lemon-garlic dressing, this one does.
Pumpkin Hazelnut Chai Soup
And one more Thanksgiving soup recipe from A Harmony Healing, because who can resist pumpkin, hazelnut and chai? Plus, cooking with tea is, like, really trendy right now, guys.
Image: A Harmony Healing
Sausage Stuffing with Squash, Leek & Quinoa
This stuffing recipe from Big Girls, Small Kitchen keeps that carb-count low by replacing bread crumbs with winter squash and quinoa.
Image: Big Girls, Small Kitchen
This super-simple stuffing recipe from This Family Tree combines whole wheat bread and cornbread.
Roasted Parsnip Mash With Caramelized Onions and Herbs
With caramelized onions and herbs, you don't even need to top this Healthy Blender Recipes' root veggie mash with gravy.
Image: Healthy Blender Recipes
This pumpkin risotto recipe from Lesley Eats is vegan and gluten-free. But shhhh — you don't have to tell anybody. It's so creamy and flavorful they'll never know.
Image: Lesley Eats
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
Instead of standard white bread dinner rolls, why not serve this hearty, flavorful and healthy whole wheat pumpkin bread from Cookie + Kate?
Image: Cookie + Kate
Tarragon & Sunflower Roasted Vegetables
Ample herbs, sunflower seeds and Asiago cheese make even the most mundane of roasted vegetables suddenly appealing, thanks to Sumptuous Spoonfuls.
Image: Sumptuous Spoonfuls
Honey Parmesan Brussels Sprouts
These honey and Parmesan-dusted Brussels sprouts from Dashing Dish have just 80 calories and one gram of fat per serving.
Image: Dashing Dish
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cookies
Let's move on to dessert, shall we? Pie recipes are forthcoming, but first: whole wheat pumpkin cookies from Cookie + Kate. With little sugar and ample spice, it's practically health food.
Image: Cookie + Kate
Spiced Baked Pumpkin
This recipe from Adventures in Cooking is basically pumpkin pie without the crust, which keeps things just as tasty but a little bit lighter.
Paleo-Friendly Pumpkin Apple Pie
Here's a grain-free pumpkin pie recipe, via paleo food blog A Girl Worth Saving.
Image: A Girl Worth Saving
Naturally-Sweetened Pumpkin Pie
There's no added sugar in this pumpkin pie, from The Muffin Myth — it's naturally sweetened with maple syrup and dates.
Image: The Muffin Myth