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One tradition we can always ground around is the enjoyment of a nourishing meal. Whether your Thanksgiving plans include dining with just your partner or kids, or a group of friends and family, there’s something about a spread of savory dishes that makes it feel like the holidays.

This menu is made up of dishes that are traditional and tasty, but crafted with a few healthy alternatives. The recipes are designed to serve about four people (with some leftovers), but can easily be halved or doubled depending on your group’s size.


Pecan and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Dates

A plate of pecan and goat cheese stuffed dates.

Makes 6 servings •  Prep time 20 minutes

  • 4 oz. soft goat cheese
  • 2 tbs. chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 18 large Medjool dates
  1. The day before: In a small bowl, mash the goat cheese, then stir in the pecans and orange zest. Use a paring knife to slice along one side of each date and pull out the pit. Scoop a heaping teaspoon of the goat-cheese mixture and stuff it into each date, then gently press the date closed around the cheese. Place the dates on a serving platter. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  2. The day of: Remove the dates from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to allow them to come to room temperature. Place a bowl of toothpicks alongside them. Garnish with herbs, if desired.

Source: “Pecan and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Dates” (Experience Life, 2019)

Cran-Apple Turkey Meatballs

A plate of cran-apple turkey meatballs, veggies, and potatoes.

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 12 to 14 minutes

  • 1 ld. lean ground turkey
  • 2 cups spinach, finely chopped
  • ½ tart apple, shredded
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients and mix until well combined.
  3. Roll the mixture into 12 balls. Place balls in a muffin tin, putting one ball in per opening. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until fully cooked.

Source: Life Time Training

Creamy Spinach and White-Bean Dip

Creamy spinach and white bean dip with sliced veggies.

Makes 6 servings •  Prep time 20 minutes

  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini or navy beans
  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 2 tsp. chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  • ½ tsp. salt
  1. Drain the beans over a bowl and let stand, reserving the liquid.
  2. Heat a small sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil, then add the halved garlic cloves and reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle sizzle. Add the rosemary and black pepper; stir. Continue cooking, stirring periodically, until garlic is browned on both sides, about eight to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. Place the drained white beans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to chop. Scrape down the sides, then add the cooled oil-and-garlic mixture, spinach, and salt. Process to make a coarse purée.
  4. Scrape into a bowl. If the mixture seems too thick, stir in some of the reserved bean liquid to reach desired texture.
  5. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to four days. Serve with veggies and crackers for dipping.

Source: “Creamy Spinach and White-Bean Dip” (Experience Life, 2020)

Side Dishes

Beat and Arugula Salad

beet and arugula salad

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 15 minutes

  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs. orange juice
  • 4 to 5 cups arugula
  • 2 roasted beets, chopped (can be found precooked and vacuum sealed)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (can sub walnuts or nut/seed of choice)
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
  1. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and orange juice.
  2. Lightly toss the dressing with the arugula and split onto plates.
  3. Top each serving with beets, pine nuts, and goat cheese.

Note: If prepping for later, leave the dressing on the side.

Source: 1-2-12 (Life Time’s first-ever cookbook)

Gluten-Free Stuffing

Gluten-free stuffing

Makes 8 servings •  Prep time 15 minutes •  Cook time 45 minutes

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 tart apple, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup almond or oat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbs. thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbs. sage leaves, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a skillet, sauté sausage over medium heat for six to eight minutes. Add in the apple and veggies and continue to sauté until the sausage in cooked through.
  3. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the flour, eggs, and spices and mix well.
  4. Add the mixture to a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 25 minutes until baked all the way through.

Source: Life Time Training

Roasted-Garlic Mashed Faux-tatoes

Roasted-Garlic Mashed Faux-tatoes

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 15 to 20 minutes •  Cook time 25 minutes

  • 4 fennel bulbs, stalks and leaves removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt, divided
  • ¼ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, divided
  • 3 celeriac, peeled and cubed (about 4 cups)
  • 3 tbs. ghee
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the fennel into quarters and place it in an oven-safe dish with the garlic. Drizzle olive oil over it and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Cover and place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
  3. In a large stockpot of water, boil the celeriac until soft, about 12 minutes. Drain and add to a food processor.
  4. Add the roasted garlic and fennel mixture, ghee, almond milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining pepper to the food processor and process until smooth.
  5. Serve warm.

Source: “Roasted-Garlic Mashed Faux-tatoes” (Experience Life, 2016)

Main Course

Roasted Chicken

roasted chicken

Makes 10 servings •  Prep time 1 hour •  Cook time 1 hour, 15 minutes

  • 3.5 to 4 lb. whole chicken, giblets discarded
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan or Celtic salt
  • ½ tsp. round black pepper
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, thyme, paprika, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  3. Using your finger or a spoon handle, gently loosen the skin of the chicken from the breast and thighs, making sure not to tear the skin. Rub the seasoning all over the chicken and underneath the skin of the breast, directly onto the meat.
  4. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings behind the back. Let it sit on the counter uncovered for 30 minutes.
  5. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a large sheet pan. Transfer to the oven and let roast for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the breast registers 160 degrees F when a thermometer is inserted in the middle.
  7. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and transfer the chicken to a carving board. Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Carve the chicken and serve.

Source: 1-2-12 (Life Time’s first-ever cookbook)


Sweet Potato, Honey, and Ginger Mousse

Sweet Potato, Honey, and Ginger Mousse

Makes 6 servings •  Prep time 5 minutes •  Cook time 30 minutes, plus chill time

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until soft.
  3. Remove the skin from the sweet potatoes and place in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.
  4. Chill before serving. If desired, top with whipped cream, pecans, and/or a dash of cinnamon.


Mulled Cider With Hibiscus

a glass mug of mulled hibiscus cider with a slice of lemon

Makes 8 servings •  Prep time 5 minutes •  Cook time 20 minutes or more

  • 2 qts. apple cider
  • 4 to 6 bags hibiscus tea
  • 2 tbs. mulling-spice blend (buy or make your own below)
  • 8 orange slices or ¾ cup cranberries for garnish

Mulling-Spice Ingredients

  • 4 tbs. cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
  • 2 tbs. whole cloves
  • 4 tbs. whole allspice berries
  • 2 tbs. dried orange peel, diced
  • 2 tbs. candied gingerroot, diced for garnish
  1. In a slow cooker or a large saucepan on the stove, add apple cider, tea bags, and spices. Simmer on low heat for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Remove tea bags and use a mesh skimmer or straining ladle to remove mulling spices; float orange slices or cranberries on top.
  3. Suggested spirit: Pour a little brandy into individual servings, or substitute red wine for half of the apple cider to spike the whole batch.

Source: “Mulled Cider With Hibiscus” (Experience Life, 2018)

For even more, healthy, Thanksgiving recipe ideas, visit “Your Thanksgiving Menu Planner“.

Molly Schelper
Molly Kopischke

Molly Kopischke is the director of content strategy at Life Time.

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