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Food for Thought: A Thankfully Healthful Feast

Submitted by Janet Verney.

I adore the flavors of fall, but I don’t like feeling “stuffed” by a meal that is filled with too many carbs and sugars. My favorite aspect of Thanksgiving is being with family and friends, counting my many blessings, and of course watching the Macy’s Day Parade!

I like to keep it simple and pre-prepare dishes that I can just throw in the oven the day of the big event. This allows me, as the chief cook (and bottle washer) to spend time visiting with my family and friends. Below are three health’d-up recipes that I love this time of year and that won’t keep you in the kitchen all day.

If you are setting the table for a sit down dinner, consider adding a little glass or small jar at each place setting with the guest’s names. Give each person a piece of paper for the number of guests at your event. Encourage them to write something positive about each person and to put it in their jar. It could be as simple as complimenting the sweater they are wearing or something more in depth about how special they are. They can be read outload at the beginning of the meal and shared or kept private. This is a wonderful way to honor the Thanksgiving Feast and each other!

In my Recipes ReDesigned below, I have used healthier fats, kept everything gluten free, reduced the sugar content, and made them easy to prepare. Whenever possible, please use organic ingredients!

I hope you enjoy these health’d-up dishes and I encourage you to send me some of your favorite recipes that you would like see a healthier makeover. You can submit them to

The Other Stuffing

Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable with so many health benefits. This recipe is a superfood dish that won’t spike your blood sugar and yet is tastes like this old fashioned favorite. This recipe is not for stuffing the bird though, sorry.

  • 3 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • ½ tsp. Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into small bite sized chunks

Gently heat the olive oil and the spices in a sauté pan on med/low. Add the onion and celery and simmer. Stir in the chopped cauliflower and toss on med/high heat until slightly brown and tender. You may need to add a small amount of water to help steam the cauliflower. Check for taste and add more seasoning as desired. Turn into an olive oil greased, oven proof dish. Cool, then cover and place in fridge until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, leave at room temp for 1 hour, then bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Special Note of Recognition:  Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which is known for its cancer fighting properties. It is a terrific anti-inflammatory and is full of antioxidants.  It is rich in vitamins, supports digestion, and is a natural detoxifier to the body!

Simple Sweet Taters

Another powerhouse food that often gets criminalized with heavy fats and way too much sugar. Here is my favorite go to sweet potato recipe that keeps it simple and relatively healthy!

  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • ½ cup fruit juice sweetened apricot jam
  • 2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs. of orange liquor or fresh orange juice.
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • A pinch of cloves & allspice
  • 4-6 organic sweet potatoes

Wisk all of the above ingredients, except the sweet potatoes, in a shallow casserole dish and spread it evenly in the pan. Remove the tips at both ends of the sweet potatoes. Keeping the skins on, wash and cut the sweet potatoes into one inch round disks. Dip one side into the mixture, then turn over to coat the other side. Cover and place in fridge until ready to serve. When ready to serve, leave at room temp for 1 hour, then bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes, or until tender, turning once half way through baking.

Apple Crisp

I grew up in a Pennsylvania Dutch home where apple pie was often served for dinner… I even ate it for breakfast with warm milk and a teaspoon of sugar! I still love this fall favorite, but the gluten and all the refined sugar just trigger inflammation for me, so here is one of my easy, go to recipes to get my apple fix.


  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbs. GF flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 4 cups of sliced apples


  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of clove
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 2 cups organic almond flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the filling, whisk all ingredients in a large bowl, except the apples. Add the fruit and toss to coat. Pour into a 9” baking pan.

For the topping, using the same large bowl, whisk all the liquid ingredients, adding the spices and salt. Add in the almond flour and mix in with a fork until chunky bits form. Crumble it over the fruit mixture. Cover with parchment paper, bake for 30 minutes, remove parchment and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly and brown.

Janet E. Verney is an Author, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Wellness Designer, and Healthy Food Chef who resides in Higganum and loves helping others to “health-up” their lives!  Have a burning health or nutrition question, write to Janet at To learn more, visit her website at 

Photos by Janet.


  1. Can’t wait to try these recipes Janet!! The sweet taters look incredible…

    Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving…



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