It’s easy to overstock your pantry and refrigerator this time of year. The last thing you want to happen when you’re preparing Thanksgiving dinner is to run out of an ingredient. Since stores are usually closed or have limited hours on this holiday, you really stock up when you make that big shopping trip! But don’t worry about wasting food this season — or eating too much unhealthy junk. Here are some tasty, healthy ways to use all those fruits and veggies overloading your pantry and fridge. And if you do have any traditional Thanksgiving leftovers, check out our tips for safely storing and reheating those dishes.
*Serves 2–4 people
The beet “pasta” is always a fun surprise. We love the way this looks. Beets are rich in the phytonutrient belatin, which supports detoxification and is rich in antioxidants. Although the nutritional benefit is slightly different for yellow beets, they would also be a lovely presentation. Pistachios are buttery and delicious but walnuts make a great substitution.
Directions: Toss beets with lemon juice, oil, and salt. Allow to marinate while making pesto.
Pistachio Thyme Pesto
Directions: Pulse all ingredients in food processor and blend until well combined but still slightly chunky.
Assembly: Toss noodles with pesto. Garnish with chopped pistachios and a sprig of fresh thyme before serving.
*Serves 4-6 people
This recipe is by no means exact. This idea can be applied to almost any variety of fruits, vegetables, seaweed, herbs, nuts, and seeds, which makes it the perfect recipe for all of those leftover Thanksgiving tidbits. Think of it as the ultimate bowl of nutrient-dense goodness. Just toss with a simple vinaigrette and you have an amazing meal.
Directions: Toss all ingredients together. Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes before serving.
*Serves 2-4 people
This dish is elegant, complex, and delicious. Celery root makes a great substitution for al dente pasta without all the white flour. We recommend tossing the mushrooms in immediately before serving because they will stain the color of the noodles.
Directions: Toss all ingredients until well combined. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes. Drain before tossing with remaining ingredients.
Directions: Toss together all ingredients and allow to marinate for a few minutes.
Truffle Pumpkin Seeds
Directions: Toss together all ingredients.
Assembly: Toss celery root, mushrooms, and pumpkin seeds together. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with extra pumpkin seeds and minced herbs. Drizzle with additional truffle oil before serving.
Sometimes Thanksgiving turkey and sides are better the next day. You can save your leftovers in the fridge for a few days and no more than four months in the freezer. To ensure your leftovers are safe to eat and stored properly, follow these helpful tips:
For information about how long each Thanksgiving side dish lasts, visit StillTasty’s Thanksgiving page.
How do you prepare Thanksgiving leftovers? Tell us in the comments.
Recipes by Meredith Baird. Meredith is a certified raw food chef and instructor. She is also the creative director at the Matthew Kenney Academy where chefs and health foodies can learn the art of making raw food.
Although the Thanksgiving meal is all about rich and decadent ingredients, that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on health or flavor. The art of raw food preparation is a unique way to create beautiful desserts without settling — raw food desserts are often more filling and flavorful than the originals! You might be surprised how rich and decadent raw desserts made with chocolate taste compared to baked ones, or the creaminess of a pie made with nuts. These recipes surpass any cooked treat you could bring to the Thanksgiving table, in both nutrition and taste.
Pumpkin Pie with Shortbread Crust
This pie is a surprisingly authentic take on the classic without any of the refined or canned ingredients. We use carrot juice instead of pumpkin to mimic the flavor and color of pumpkin. It keeps well in the freezer so it can be made ahead — making it an ideal holiday treat!
½ cup shredded coconut
2 cups cashew flour
2 Tbsp agave
2 Tbsp powered sucanat or maple sugar
1 tsp vanilla 1 tsp salt
Directions: In a dry Vitamix make a flour out of the coconut flakes. Process to make as fine as possible. Then, in a food processor combine cashew flour, coconut flour, and remaining ingredients. Do not over blend, you want the mixture to be light but to hold together when pressed between your fingers. Press into 9-inch tart pan and chill until ready for use.
½ cup cashews
¾ cup agave
½ cup carrot juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger
pinch of cloves
¼ tsp salt
½ cup coconut oil liquefied
Directions: Blend all ingredients except for coconut oil until smooth. Slowly add coconut oil and continue to blend until well combined. Assembly: Pour filling into crust and refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Makes one 9” pie.
Banana Cacao Pudding Tart (nut free)
Makes 1 12- inch tart
¾ cup cacao powder
¾ cup fine oat flour, sifted
¼ cup dry coconut nectar crystals, sifted
¼ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsps coconut oil
Directions: Combine everything in a food processor, adding a little more oil, if necessary to get it to come together. Press into a greased 12-inch tart pan and chill to set. Make sure shells are set before making fillings.
½ cup coconut nectar crystals
1 Tbsp mesquite meal
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
Directions: Combine everything in blender. Dehydrate in a big, shallow pan for 6-8 hours, until thick. Blend with ¼ cup coconut oil.
Chocolate Pudding Filling:
2 cups coconut meat
1/3 cup maple syrup
½ cup agave or coconut nectar
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp sea salt
½ cup cacao powder
Directions: In a Vitamix, blend the first five ingredients until totally smooth, stopping to scrape sides as necessary. Once smooth, add the cacao powder and blend until smooth.
Assembly: Take prepared shell and fill with a thin layer of banana filling. Freeze to set. Continue filling with chocolate pudding filling, making sure the top is totally smooth. Freeze to set, remove from metal shells. Serve chilled with banana chips or other garnish of you choice.
Say the word “Thanksgiving” and what comes to mind? Turkey, of course, and probably sweet potatoes, stuffing, and cranberries, too. And don’t forget the pumpkin pie! The thing about Thanksgiving is that you’re bound to eat a lot and that’s fine, but there are areas you can cut back on so you can save yourself for the big show. Try making a healthy Thanksgiving appetizer that’s fresh and seasonal.
A large plate of raw vegetables with dips are the perfect appetizer for this time of year. They’re healthy, beautiful, and great for snacking. I happened to find some really beautiful baby vegetables, but you can use any vegetable and cut them into bite-sized pieces. However, it’s getting easier and easier to find baby vegetables at supermarkets these days. And don’t bother cutting off the leaves, they add to the presentation.
Dips are incredibly easy to make and you can prepare them far in advance.
Here are the recipes for the dips below (use organic ingredients when possible):
This little sauce really stood out for me when I went to Istanbul, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since — I love anything that’s so simple but so full of flavor.
Makes 1.5 cups
Mix all the ingredients together in a glass bowl and serve chilled.
I know you’ve probably made guacamole before, but I really think you should give this a try. Guacamole is good, but add ginger and it’s incredible! Really, give it a go. It’s so quick and easy, and totally worth the effort. It’ll be the first thing gone from the table.
Makes about 3-4 cups
Place all ingredients in a blender. I like this slightly chunky, but you can make it as smooth as you’d like it.
Why not make your own hummus? It’s so quick, and so much better than anything you’ll buy.
Makes about 1 cup
1. Drain about 2/3 of the liquid from the chickpea tin and reserve the rest.
2. Add the chickpeas and their remaining juices to a food processor. Add the minced garlic (you really want this minced — if it’s any bigger you’ll get chunks and that’s not great), cumin, and tahini. Pulse until it’s combined. Season and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Pulse again, and taste.
How smooth you make the hummus is your choice. I don’t like it too smooth, but go with what you like. The most important thing is that you like the way it tastes so just make sure the seasoning is good and enough, then add more lemon if you like.
Tell us about your healthy Thanksgiving appetizer ideas in the comments.
Image credit: Brookelyn Photography