19 Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes That Won’t Cause a Food Hangover

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. 

Image: Blisstree

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

Whole-Grain Stuffing

This super-simple stuffing recipe from This Family Tree combines whole wheat bread and cornbread. 

Image: This Family Tree


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

Pumpkin Risotto

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.

Image: Adventures in Cooking

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