Healthy Thanksgiving Substitutions, Tips and Recipes!

Thanksgiving is fast approaching for us Canadians. With food allergies, sensitivities and healthier eating on the rise, getting together with the family to make a healthy, allergy-free meal that everyone loves can be challenging. My family might be the up there with being the most difficult to prep meals for - My dad has Celiac Disease, and cannot eat gluten found in wheat, rye, oats or barley, my mom doesn't eat dairy, my sister Nikki is a vegan so she doesn't eat meat, dairy or eggs, my other sister Chelsea is a vegan with a gluten allergy and I eat gluten-free, raw and vegan! Try explaining that to your dinner host! But we make it work and if we can do it - anyone can. Here are some substitution tips to make this year a little healthier and easier for you and your loved ones if you are hosting people with allergies or food restrictions. Plus I share my sister's amazing quinoa stuffing recipe, a recipe for mushroom gravy, homemade cranberries, raw vegan hummus dip and raw vegan persimmon pie bites! Enjoy 1. Veggies and Dip – When you make your veggie tray use Coconut Milk Yogurt instead of sour cream to make your dip. Just mix it with your dip package or make one from scratch. Coconut milk yogurt is dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free! You could also make fresh hummus/guacamole dips and serve them with veggies.

Try my raw vegan hummus dip!

2. Mashed Potatoes – Instead of blending your mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes) with milk and butter, simply substitute with almond milk and Earth Balance dairy-free & soy free spread. Better yet - try mashing them with avocado! Avocado is a healthy whole-food fat and is by far better than any processed packaged food.

My sisters make their dairy-free mashed potatoes with earth balance and almond milk :)

3. Salad - I know it's tempting with all the rich and yummy dishes, but don't skip the salad! Salads are healthy, colorful and can actually be really tasty. Plus there's an added benefit - Eating a salad before you dig into your meal can prevent you from overindulging. *Waldorf salads are popular on Thanksgiving!

Waldorf salad - gluten-free and vegan! Recipe below!

4. Stuffing – Quinoa Stuffing is a great alternative for those with gluten allergies. Many Gluten-free breads still contain dairy and eggs in it, making it not suitable for vegans or those that are dairy-free. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that's hearty, delicious and the perfect solution! My sister has the best recipe ever and I shared it below. *if you have someone with a gluten allergy in your home that’s eating turkey, please don’t stuff the turkey with gluten or they wont be able to eat it. Vegans neither!

Nikki's Quinoa Stuffing (recipe below)

5. Broth – When using broth in your recipes make sure it’s gluten free and vegan! Some turkeys are pre-coated in broth as well so watch for that when buying one for those with gluten-allergies. Or better yet, skip the turkey and try having your first meatless thanksgiving to give thanks to all the animals that give their lives every year. You can make a difference! There are plenty of soy and tofu options for meat substitutes and there are also tons of other delish vegan recipes to enjoy that will fill you up!

6. Gravy – You can find gluten free and vegan gravy mixes now- and if you are making it from scratch use cornstarch instead of wheat flour for gluten allergies. I also shared my sister's vegan mushroom gravy recipe below!

7. Homemade cranberry sauce – Regular cranberry sauce isn't a big issue for people with allergies but it comes from a can which means preservatives and it's full of processed white sugar. Keep reading to find a simple, healthy cranberry sauce recipe make from fresh cranberries and coconut sugar.

8. Dessert – Coconut to the rescue! Coconut milks, yogurts and ice creams make a great alternative for those rich and creamy desserts. You can substitute them in equal quantities and feel great about them being gluten-free and vegan.

Enjoy Coconut Bliss vanilla ice cream with your pie instead of dairy or soy-based ice creams. *You can also make your own ice cream using only bananas! It's just like soft serve vanilla ice cream! Learn how to make banana ice cream here:

Look for the raw vegan Persimmon Pie Bites recipe at the end of the post!

9. Shots - I have a new tradition during the holidays - I have replaced alcohol shots with green juice shots! This may not be allergy-related but it's healthy and fun. The tradition started two thanksgivings ago. My aunt and uncle had just got their first juicer and they knew I'd be excited to do some green shots once I got there. They shared their go-to green juice recipe and it was soo good! My cousins would argue otherwise...they think green juice tastes awful, but I tell them, "If you can take a whisky shot, you can take a green juice shot!"

Get my favorite Green Juice recipe for shots here!

I hope this post was helpful for you, whether you are raw, vegan, gluten free or have any other allergies or food sensitivities, or know someone that is, to make the holiday season more enjoyable for everyone. If you are hosting someone with food allergies this thanksgiving, I suggest giving them a call to communicate what they can and cannot eat. Never be afraid to invite them to bring their own dish, or be offended if they do. I always bring my own food. Being someone with a food allergy, I'd rather prepare a dish myself in my gluten-free kitchen, so I don't have to worry about cross contamination issues.

Here are some Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes for you to try, free from the top allergens:


I wanted to make a veggie-based side dish that wasn't just a lettuce salad for my family this year and immediately thought of doing a Waldorf salad. I found a simple healthy vegan recipe online and made a few alterations to it to make it raw. The main ingredients are broccoli, celery, walnuts grapes and avocado! A great side dish to your thanksliving meal plus it's a fun way to eat broccoli!


1 head of broccoli, chopped (about 3-4 cups)

1 large avocado (or 2 small)

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup sliced red grapes

1/2 cup walnut pieces

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon mustard/or 1tsp mustard powder

1 medjool date (pitted)

Handful fresh parsley


Dressing: Take avocado and spoon into a blender/food processor. Then add in mustard, the date and lemon and blend together. Add fresh parsley last and pulse-blend the herb into the dressing.

Salad: Place broccoli and celery into large bowl. Pour avocado dressing over broccoli and celery and toss together. Add in red grapes and walnuts. Toss until everything is well combined. Chill in the fridge, serve and enjoy!!


This is my sister Nikki's amazing recipe for Quinoa Stuffing. She makes it every year for Thanksgiving and the whole family looks forward to it. My mom used to make us rice stuffing for the holidays, but there's something about the quinoa that makes it more hearty and filling. This recipe is a must try. It's gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and vegan!

Gluten free Vegan Quinoa Stuffing


1 cup of quinoa 2 cups of water 1 cup of wild rice 4 cups of water 1 white onion, diced 2 medium carrots, diced 5 stalks of celery, diced 1 small pkg mushrooms, diced 2 tbsp of coconut oil 1 clove of garlic, minced 1 cup gluten free vegetable broth 3 tsp of sage 2 tsp of cumin Salt and pepper Directions:

First you will need to clean your wild rice and quinoa. A simple way to do that is to put it in a strainer and run cold water over it. To make the wild rice: combine rice, the 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for approximately 45 minutes, until the rice has opened and fluffed out. Strain out any excess water. Or if you have a rice cooker use that instead, it’s a lot easier! To make the quinoa combine quinoa and the 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for approximately 20 minutes, until the water has all evaporated. Next dice up the mushrooms, carrots, onion, and celery into bite size pieces, and place the mushrooms aside for later. Heat up a medium/large sized frying pan on Medium/High heat, add your oil and sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and broth, spices and quinoa/rice mixture to the pan, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Serving bowl and enjoy! Gluten Free Vegan Mushroom Gravy This is also Nikki's recipe! Ingredients: 1 medium Onion, diced 1 cup of Mushrooms, diced 1 tsp of Coconut Oil 2 cloves of garlic, diced 1/4 cup of gluten free Flour, I used Quinoa Flour 1 cup of Vegan Broth 2 tsp of Soy Sauce, Vegan Gluten Free 1 tsp of Worcheshire Sauce, Vegan Gluten Free Directions:

In a small sauce pan saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms in oil until soft. Gradually alternate adding flour and broth to the onions and mushrooms until there are no clumps. Add the soy sauce and the worcheshire and continue to cook for another 5 mins. If the gravy is too thick then add more broth/water until you get your desired consistency. I like my gravy to have a smooth texture so I blended mine in my Magic Bullet until smooth. However, if you like the chunky texture then exnay the blender.

Persimmon Pie Bites

Raw Vegan Desserts are so much fun, and these are low fat too(no overts)! Perfect for Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. You can double or triple it to make a pie or keep it as it to make a batch of mini ones.


1/2 cup dried mulberries

13 pitted dates

2-3 persimmons (depending on size)

Tiny chunk of ginger

Pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon and nutmeg)

I like to add a pinch of vanilla powder as well.


Pulse dried mulberries in a food processor until they are a crumble (or in a Vitamix but it works better in a food processor). Add 10 pitted medjool dates and blend until a the dates are chopped and a ball starts to form. Take out of the processor and roll into 1 inch balls. Press in the center of the ball with your thumb and shape into a mini crust. For the filling: blend 2 ripe and gooey persimmons (make sure they are ripe) with 3 pitted medjool dates and pumpkin pie spice. You can add a touch of ginger as well. Blend until smooth and spoon into your date crusts. Top with a mulberry and chill in the fridge. These can be made into frozen treats as well. Enjoy!! Cranberry Sauce Made from fresh fruit and free from white, processed sugar!


  • 2 cups fresh cranberries 1 pear (or apple) diced 1/2 cup orange juice 1/2 cup Coconut Sugar


  • Combine the coconut sugar and orange juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the cranberries (fresh or frozen) and diced pear. Return to a boil until the cranberries 'pop', then reduce heat and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a glass bowl, cover and let cool for 2 hours. It will thicken as it cools.

**To make a raw vegan cranberry sauce - subsitute the coconut sugar for 6-8 pittted medjool dates. Blend with cranberries, apple/pear and fresh OJ!

Ashley received holistic health coach training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has been following a raw vegan diet for three years. She has healed many health issues such as candida, gallbladder inflammation, chronic hives and allergies, sinus problems, digestive issues, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic urinary tract infections and more. She now feels lighter and brighter with abundant energy to pursue her dreams!

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