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Untraditional (But Delicious) Thanksgiving Recipes for a Healthy Holiday

It's almost Thanksgiving! And while we love mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce as much as the next person, this year, we're starting to crave something a little bit different. Blame the wellness craze or maybe just the thought of appearing at the new Equinox Hotel pool  in our swimsuits, but we're hankering for healthier alternatives to chow down on during our Thanksgiving feast.

And so, we challenged our culinary partners to come up with some ideas for more unusual and healthier Thanksgiving dishes. Think: seafood instead of mashed potatoes, kale salad instead of a green been casserole, and a no-sugar banana bread instead of a super sweet pecan pie. As it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a turkey (or a Tofurky, if you're vegetarian), we didn't try to swap that out, but rather, everything that accompanies it.

The recipes are below, along with a few thoughts from our partners about why you might want to make them. Happy cooking!

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Oven-Roasted Littleneck Clams

For a Starter: Oven-Roasted Littleneck Clams from Citarella 

“I love Thanksgiving because it’s all about family, friends and good food. And of course for me, a seafood recipe or two,” said Joe Gurrera, founder and original fishmonger of Citarella, "This recipe is great because everyone gathers when they are fresh from the oven to enjoy them together." Gurrera also recommends making baked oysters; you can find the recipe in his debut cookbook, "Joe Know Fish."

Check out Citarella at our Fall Harvest Festival this weekend, where they'll be making Fall recipes like Sausage Stuffing and Sweet Potato Praline.

Serves 4 (yields one dozen clams)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

2 dozen raw littleneck clams cleaned, shucked, shells reserved
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the clam shells, open-side up, on the baking sheet. Place one clam in each shell. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the olive oil and toss until they are thoroughly moistened. Top each clam with a small mound of the breadcrumb mixture. It is important that you can still see the clam (remember, you want to taste the clam, not mask the flavor).

4. Bake the clams in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve immediately.


For a Side Dish: Delicate Kale Salad from The Culinistas 

"This recipe, though not your average Thanksgiving dish, will elevate any spread for the holidays," says Tiana Tenet, co-founder of The Culinistas, a full-service, in-home private chef company. Co-founder Jill Donenfeld adds, "a kale salad with squash and hazelnuts plays to autumnal flavors as well as stays on the theme of nutrient dense and eating green." And no need to only eat this salad during the holiday; it is so hearty and delicious, you can enjoy it pretty much all year round (psst: Related residents receive a special offer on The Culinistas services. Check it out on the resident offer page). 

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The Delicata Kale Salad

Serves 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes


½ cup olive oil

6 sprigs marjoram

1 small delicata squash, seeds removed, sliced

½ cup maple syrup, divided

½ teaspoon cumin, coarsely ground

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 bunch Lacinato kale, ribs removed, finely chopped

¾ cup hazelnuts, roasted, roughly chopped, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.

2. Make the marjoram oil: In a small saucepan, heat marjoram in oil until the marjoram is fried. Transfer the marjoram to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Reserve the oil.

3. Make the roasted delicata: On a parchment-lined sheet pan, mix the squash with ¼ cup marjoram oil, ¼ cup maple syrup, cumin, onion powder and cayenne, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast the squash until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside. 

4. Make the maple vinaigrette: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining maple syrup, lemon zest and juice. While whisking, stream in the remaining marjoram oil. Season the vinagrette to taste with salt and pepper.

5. In a large mixing bowl, mix the kale, ½ cup hazelnuts and roasted squash. Season the salad with the maple vinaigrette to taste. Transfer the salad onto a large platter and garnish with remaining hazelnuts and fried marjoram.

For Dessert: Sugar-free Banana Bread from Swoon 

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Swoon's Banana Bread

Just because a dessert doesn't have any sugar, doesn't mean it can't be delicious. This recipe comes to us from Swoon, a zero-sugar simple syrup made from monk fruit, which can be used to sweeten everything from cocktails to coffee, and is served at places including Bluestone Lane and Eleven Madison Park.

For Thanksgiving, co-founder of Swoon Jennifer Ross recommends this zero-sugar Banana Bread, as "there's something extra comforting and delicious about a slice of warm Banana Bread, especially knowing that it is low in sugar and calories," she says, "Since our recipe uses Swoon instead of sugar, the result is a healthy dessert that you and your guests won't be able to stop talking about, and you won't feel bad about that extra slice."


1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 Cup Swoon
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
4 Ripe Bananas
1/4 Cup Oat Milk Unsweetened
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon plus a dash to sprinkle on top
1 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour


1. Mix together olive oil, swoon, and apple sauce in a large mixing bowl.

2. Mash bananas and add them to the bowl.

3. Add milk and vanilla and stir.

4. Add salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and stir.

5. Add flour, stir.

6. Pour into loaf pan, put a little cinnamon on top and swirl.

7. Bake for one hour at 325 degrees.

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