Thanksgiving is the holiday I wait for all year. I never tire of it. And while it is about the food, it’s also a reminder to focus on what you are grateful for and graze (pun intended) on those thoughts all day long and through the weekend as we continue to be with those we love.
So, as we prepare for Thanksgiving next week, let’s reflect on the last 525,600 minutes, take a collective deep breath, hold it and hold it a little more and exhale. It’s a time to think about all you have experienced and a renewal of a promise to treasure your friends and family. Because family and love are really all that matter.
That’s what the season is really about and, this year, let’s commit to holding on to a bit of our gratitude and perspective as we go through the upcoming 364 days until we land here again. Gratitude makes life easier to handle, and I trust we could all use all of the help we can get.
And, as we focus on filling our hearts with gratitude, let’s also pull out all stops to having the best Thanksgiving menu this year that brightens the table in a good + good for you way. I have compiled more than 40 of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes that have previously been featured on the blog.
Choose from simple appetizers that won’t fill your guests up and soups that encourage sipping. Salads that attract crowds and disappear and sides that stand out. You’ll also find a selection of breads, cornbreads and rolls that include gluten-free and paleo options. With a growing number of family members and friends with food issues, you will notice I have indicated which dishes are paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan using these abbreviations: Paleo, gf, veg and v for vegan.
Some are standard recipes we would never do without, while others are on pause some years but always get back into rotation as a star at our Thanksgiving table. For the dessert spread, I’ve included all of my favorites, plus every pumpkin recipe, because you can never have too many desserts or gourd dishes this time of year.
As for my Thanksgiving menu, every recipe I am making comes from this blog. I hope you will entertain the idea of allowing at least one Cowgirl Gourmet recipe to grace your holiday table.
Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.
From my table to yours,
I don’t usually like to put out many appetizers because I didn’t slave for days in the kitchen so my guests to gorge on nuts and cheeses before the real feast begins. But these homemade rosemary crackers are gluten-free and paleo and these two varieties of hummus–one with garbanzos and one that calls on zucchini for the paleo types–are smart ways to start the celebration. Serve with a huge plate of raw vegetables.
Rosemary-black pepper almond crackers (paleo/gf)
Life-changing crackers (gf/v)
Velvety smooth hummus (veg/v)
Roasted zucchini dip (Paleo, gf, veg, v)
I could live on soups and if you are planning a seated, elaborate dinner, a soup can clean the palate after courses and also give everyone time to rest between courses. Sipping soup forces conversation and there’s no better time for catching up with family and friends than at the Thanksgiving table.
Butternut squash, apple and pear soup (Paleo, gf, veg and v)
Carrot-ginger coconut soup (Paleo, gf, veg and v)
Turkey stock (Paleo, gf)
When most of the dinner is carb-centric, let’s promise to offer everyone a big bowl of tantalizing greens with seasonal add-ins that make the salad good enough to serve as a central part of a vegetarian meal but desirous enough the carnivores want it, too. This is also where anyone who eats only raw food will hover and hope for a few options, so let’s make them happy as well.
Apple-walnut salad with honey vinaigrette (Paleo, gf and veg)
Shaved raw Brussels sprouts salad with apples, walnuts and Parmesan (Paleo, gf and veg) [omit the cheese and it is vegan]
Kale salad (Paleo, gf and veg) [omit the cheese and it is vegan]
Pear, blue cheese and walnut salad (Paleo, gf and veg) [omit the cheese and it is vegan]
Roasted beet salad with celery and goat cheese (Paleo, gf and veg) [omit the cheese and it is vegan]
This is where the Thanksgiving magic happens. I don’t eat turkey, so the sides are where I plant my focus. Are they hearty enough for vegetarians and meaningful enough for vegans? Are there paleo and gluten-free options? What about a few simple options so even those who abhor vegetables will put something green on their plate? And something sweet for those types as well. I think we’ve covered all of our bases with these sensational sides.
Whole roasted cauliflower with brown butter (Paleo, gf and veg) [use vegan butter and make it vegan]
Mashed cauliflower (faux taters) (Paleo, gf and veg) [use vegan butter to make it vegan]
Mashed potatoes with Swiss chard (gf and veg) [use vegan butter and make it vegan]
Creamed spinach (veg)
Green beans with toasted walnuts, lemon and Parmesan (Paleo, gf and veg) [omit the Parmesan and make it vegan]
Raw cranberry relish (Paleo, gf and veg) [replace honey with maple syrup and make it vegan]
Roasted acorn squash with maple glaze (Paleo, gf, veg and v)
Roasted sweet potato and banana mash (Paleo, gf and veg)
Roasted broccoli with garlic, lemon and Parmesan (Paleo, gf and veg) [omit the cheese and make it vegan]
Breads, corn breads and rolls
It’s been many years since we have featured stuffing on our menu, but I realize the urge many people have to load up on carbs. Whether you seek cornbread for stuffing, cornbread as a side, cornbread without corn for those who may be allergic, homemade rolls, the beauty of popovers or something Paleo to offer your guests, these are my recommendations.
Vegetable cornbread (veg)
Skillet “corn” bread (Paleo, gf and veg)
Parker House rolls (veg)
Paleo popovers (Paleo, gf, veg)
The moment we all wait for. Dessert. The table is overflowing with every overly sweet concoction, but these desserts are none of that and some are even Paleo and/or gluten-free. Whip up one of these sweet treats and see how fast it disappears.
Cinnamon-apple pie with cinnamon ice cream (Pie is Paleo, gf and veg; ice cream is gf and veg)
Pecan pie (veg)
Pumpkin chiffon pie (Pie is gf and veg; but not the crust)
Oma’s flaky pie crust (veg)
Paleo pecan pie crust (Paleo, gf and veg)
It’s pumpkin season and I am a huge proponent of roasting sugar pie pumpkins to ensure the dessert’s success. Whether you need a smoothie fix, pumpkin breads or pudding or bars or ice cream or custard, put your roasted pumpkin to use with any and all of these pumpkin recipes that boldly celebrate the season.
Roasted pumpkin seeds (Paleo, gf, veg and v)
Maple pumpkin custard (Paleo, gf and veg)
Pumpkin custard (Gf and veg)
World’s best pudding according to David (Gf and veg)
Grain-free pumpkin bars (Paleo, gf and veg)
Pumpkin bread (Paleo, gf and veg)
Pumpkin smoothie (Paleo, gf, veg and v)
Pumpkin ice cream (Gf and veg)