Thanksgiving is the time to celebrate with family and friends and eat the fall’s bounty. It is also the beginning of the 6 week holiday season where many will overeat and end of with unwanted weight gain. The actual number holidays are only 3 or 4 days out of the 6 weeks, this means that there are a lot less days to overeat. During the holiday season, I also will be sharing weekly inspiration with recipes, menus, recipe ideas and other tips to help you stay on track. Think of the Vine Ripe Nutrition Blog as your holiday SOS kit!

This is the week that many of us start gathering recipes and menu ideas to make for our Thanksgiving dinner. Some of us are packing our bags to go out of town or making dinner reservations. No matter what the plans, I hope some of these holiday survival ideas will be helpful! And I have included some delicious seasonal holiday recipes!

This menu features a meatless main dish but if for those who want to switch it up to turkey check out some of my seasoning suggestions for your turkey here!

Thanksgiving Holiday Dinner Menu

Holiday Fruit Compote

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Onions & Walnuts

Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Potatoes

Caramelized Onion Gravy

Cranberry, Wild Rice, Cornbread and Sourdough Dressing

Denise’s Famous Holiday Nut Loaf (also with a vegan variation!)

(You can also add a Fall Apple Salad and Mini Sweet Potato Pie that are also on the blog and recipe section!)

Hear are a few tips to make your holiday celebration a little healthier!

  1. Make half of your meal fruits and vegetables. The simpler the sides and main is, the healthier that they are!
  2. Purchase as much fresh and local food as possible!
  3. I use Earth Balance in place of butter in my recipes but if you prefer butter it is up to you!
  4. If you are going out to eat, load up on vegetables, fruit and lean proteins. Don’t over-do it with the food portions.
  5. Cut back on salty foods by using herbs and spices, vinegar and citrus juice. I find the more natural and fresh the ingredients, the more flavorful.
  6. If you are going out to a family member or friends house, ask what you can bring and double up on a couple of healthy menu items to bring!
  7. Talk a long walk before or after dinner.
  8. Remember to eat your other meal/s throughout the day so you won’t be so hungry that you will overdo it!
  9. Savor and eat mindfully! Enjoy every bite!
  10. Remember that the celebration is gratitude and those who you love.
  11. Portions, portions, portions.
  12. Repeat.


Here are the recipes!

This relish is a refreshing change from the usual cranberry relish!

This holiday fruit compote is a refreshing change from the usual cranberry relish!

Holiday Fruit Compote

Makes 6 servings.

2 cup cranberries

1 chopped pear, unpeeled

1 chopped apple, unpeeled

1 1/2 cup apple cider

1/3 cup maple syrup

Add fruit, cider and sugar to a small sauce pan. Simmer until fruit is soft. Refrigerate and let the flavor meld until serving.

Having a little green adds some contrast to the other foods!

Having a little green adds some contrast to the other foods!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Onions & Walnuts

Makes 4 or 5 servings.

1 bag fresh Brussels sprouts

1/2 medium onion sliced

1/2 cup nuts chopped

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil and place in a shallow pan. After 5 minutes toss around and add onions. Roast about 10 more minutes and then add the nuts. Heat about 5 more minutes until nuts are toasted and vegetables are caramelized.

A little variation to mashed potatoes!

A little variation to mashed potatoes!

Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Potatoes

6-8 servings

2-3 garlic

1 sprig fresh rosemary

3 pounds potatoes

1/3 Earth Balance margarine

1/2 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pan, roast garlic until translucent and soft. (I roast mine when I roast the Brussels sprouts). In a large stock pot, add four inches of water. Heat to boiling. Peel and chop potatoes. Cook until potatoes are soft. Drain almost all of the water. Mash potatoes until soft at the same time as the peeled garlic. Add Smart Balance, salt, pepper and milk. Mash it all up until smooth. Mix in the fresh, chopped garlic at the very end.


Don't forget the gravy!

Don’t forget the gravy!

Caramelized Onion Gravy

4-6 servings

1 medium onion chopped onion

1/3 cupEarth Balance margarine

2 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

4 cups vegetable stock

(a drop of soy sauce to make browner if desired)

Salt and pepper to taste

In an iron skillet over medium heat, melt the margarine and saute the onions until they begin to caramelize. Turn own low and add the flour and make a roux. Let flour slightly brown and add seasonings. Turn up to medium heat and with a whisk slowly add enough broth til the gravy begins to lightly bubble and is at the desired thickness.

Stuffing or Dressing? You decide!

Cranberry, Wild Rice, Cornbread and Sourdough Dressing

Whether you call it dressing or stuffing, this lightened version is light and fluffy! You can leave out the eggs and use a binder of 1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 2 1/2 teaspoon water per egg or use Energy Egg Replacer.

Makes 8 servings of dressing

1/2 pan of a 8 by 8 pan of cornbread (I made just a half a recipe in a 6 inch skillet & I use the recipe from my Farm Fresh Nutrition Cookbook.

2 cups bread cubes from some sourdough bread

1 cup cooked wild rice

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 stalk celery chopped

1/2-1 cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1teaspoon fresh snipped sage

2 eggs beaten

1-1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/3-1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the inside of a casserole dish with olive oil. In a large bowl, crumble cornbread, add cubed bread crumbs, cooked wild rice, onions, celery, seasonings and cranberries. Mix well and add eggs, melted Earth Balance and enough broth for desired moistness. Add to the dressing to the casserole pan with add the lid to the top (or add foil if you do not have and bake about 35 minutes. You can take the lid off the last 5 minutes if you would like the dressing a little bit crisp.


This nut loaf makes a wonderful vegetarian alternative at Thanksgiving!

This nut loaf makes a wonderful vegetarian alternative at Thanksgiving! To make it vegan without the eggs, you can use the Energy Egg Replacer and make enough to replace 3 eggs! You can also make egg replacers with 1 tablespoon ground flax with 2 1/2 teaspoons per egg. You also can crumble a little more tofu in there but I would still use one of these binders!


famous nutloafnut loaf continued


And here is how all these recipes look together! What a pretty, tasty and delicious plate!


Making half of your plate vegetables or fruit makes a colorful plate!

Making half of your plate vegetables or fruit makes a colorful plate!

I hope that you are all set to have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration! This is the time to feel gratitude! One of the things that I am thankful for is my good health. I am not going to take it for granted so I try to take good care of myself and my family. I hope that some things that I share will help you stay healthier! That is why I became a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville! If you need extra support with your eating choices over the holidays please give me a call and we can schedule a time to work together! Enjoy the holiday!



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