Top Tips for Thanksgiving Survival – and a gluten free stuffing recipe!

*originally posted in 2010

I don’t know about you but seeing all the pumpkins and gourds out is really making me think about Thanksgiving. The sage, thyme, rosemary, pumpkin, squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, oh my! A long time ago I published easy tips to get through thanksgiving without gaining an extra person, and also trying to make it as nutrient dense as possible. I mean hey, you’re going to eat more than normal regardless, so you might as well make it worth it right?

10 Ways to Enjoy Thanksgiving and Increase Your Nutrition

When Thanksgiving is around the corner, let’s acknowledge that everyone will eat more than usual over the holiday, so why not increase the nutritional value of the foods you are eating to simultaneously increase your nutrient and mineral intake while feeling satisfied. Here are my top 10 tips on how to make your Thanksgiving dinner with whole nutrient dense foods that are packed with flavour:

  1. Opt for butter rather than margarine – even though margarine contains less calories and fat per serving, it contains harmful trans fat and additives, and it’s not really “food”. Butter is a whole food and helps you receive fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as some trace minerals. It will also heat safely at high temperatures without creating free radicals or rancidity which can be harmful to your body.
  2.  Make a fruit based dessert such as an apple crisp topped with an oat/quinoa granola – apples are in season and can be bought at your local organic farmer’s market. They are rich in flavonoids and antioxidants and vitamin C to help boost the immune system as we head into the winter. The oats will add to your fiber intake and together both will aid in heart health.
  3. Use natural sweeteners – for candied yams use maple syrup instead of brown sugar and substitute honey in your desserts for white sugar. Honey still contains a trace amount of minerals and also has antibacterial properties whereas processed white sugar has no nutritional value and a higher glycemic index which contributes to blood sugar fluctuations, fatigue and weight gain.
  4. Increase your use of fresh herbs and spices – use fresh chives for mashed potatoes, add fresh sage and thyme to your stuffing, and sprinkle your turkey with fresh rosemary. Using fresh herbs instead of dried herbs will boost the flavour and also the health benefiting properties of each herb.
  5. Use more milk (or milk alternative) than butter in your mashed potatoes to avoid overloading on too much saturated fat and still contributing to the creaminess. Don’t forget those fresh herbs and garlic for added nutritional benefit and flavour!
  6. Load up your stuffing with vegetables – you will increase your fiber, vitamin, and antioxidant intake as well as allow for a greater quantity and colour and flavour variation to serve your guests!
  7. Eat whole grain dinner rolls to contribute to your fiber and Vitamin B intake as well as blood sugar control to keep cravings down and keep you satisfied – white flour removes the bran and germ which are the most fibrous and nutrient dense portions of the grain and can be quite constipating to your digestive system.
  8. Start your meal with a fresh pumpkin or squash soup – not only will you enjoy these in season flavours and help fill yourself up, but your will increase your intake of Vitamin A which can aid in anti-inflammatory properties, skin and immune system health.
  9. Substitute 1 tbsp ground flaxseed and 4 tbsp water or milk/milk alternative for eggs when making rolls, breads, or baked goods. This will help increase your fiber and omega-3 intake for anti-inflammatory properties and digestive health. Eggs are great for you, yet this just helps you vary your types of fat today and increase your fiber for healthier poops 😉
  10. Serve nutritious appetizers to help control blood sugar before dinner – a hummus or guacamole dip with fresh cut veggies and wholegrain crackers, baked brie with an apple or cranberry drizzle served with wholegrain crackers, or serve your homemade pumpkin or squash soup to your guests in a flavour packed shot or martini glass to help tide them over before dinner.

Try my recipe for turkey gluten free stuffing which is packed with vegetables and fresh herbs. It can look a bit mushy especially with the gluten free bread, but hey, I never said I was a food artist, it’s about the flava! Stuff the stuffing inside this deliciousness – a picture of a turkey I made circa 2010.

dinner - Thanksgiving roast turkey or everyday roast chicken

Gluten Free Herb and Vegetable Stuffing


8 slices of gluten free brown rice bread or other wholegrain variety – try to use stale/dry bread
2 stalks celery, sliced small and thin
2 large carrots, sliced round and thin
1 onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
2 – 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp fresh chopped marjoram leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
1 ½ fresh chopped thyme (1 tsp dried)
1 ½ tbsp fresh chopped sage leaves (2 tsp dried)
¼ tsp sea salt and pepper


1. Sautee onion and vegetables in olive oil until onion is soft and clear
2. Slice bread into small cubes and toss with onion, veggies and fresh herbs.
3. Put Stuffing in the Turkey after you have removed the giblets, and cook according to Turkey instructions (roughly 15 – 20 minutes per pound at 325 – 350F), and if not all the stuffing can fit you can put it in a small covered baking dish for 25 – 30 minutes until moist. Enjoy!

About Sarah Maughan

Sarah Maughan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, ON and has been consulting since 2009. Her website aims to educate you, make you laugh, help you live and inspire you to eat whole food! To stay up to date sign up for free blog and recipe updates! In the meantime, empower your body with food!
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