Thanksgiving Dinner Makeover: Make It Healthy

The traditional Thanksgiving feast is a highlight of the fall season. But many people would appreciate a chance to gather with family and friends over a meal that wasn’t quite so rich and heavy. Others would like to cook a plant-based meal delicious enough that no one misses the traditional bird.

This is why I call my November Thrive Kitchen class Thanksgiving: Extreme Makeover (everything but the turkey).  The truth is, for many of us, the best part of the Thanksgiving meal is the side dishes anyway. So we’ll put some twists on traditional favorites that will make them the stars of the show.

Our menu will include:

  • Thanksgiving Kale Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Parsnip-Pear Bisque
  • Mashed Cauliflower with Umami Gravy
  • Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts
  • Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

If you’d like to serve a vegetarian main course as well, some good options are a vegetarian shepherd’s pie made with lentils instead of ground meat; tofurkey, or nut loaf – Jamie Oliver has a delicious recipe.

Another idea is to take your Thanksgiving inspiration from pumpkin, which is as much a part of the season as turkey. For example, a  chickpea and pumpkin stew makes a delicious nontraditional main course. Another fun idea: A pumpkin curry served in the hollowed-out shell.

The Thrive Kitchen Thanksgiving Makeover class will be held Tuesday, November 14th at 6:30 pm. Advance registration is open as of October 14. The fee is $30 for Kaiser Permanente members and $40 for non-members. For more information, email the Health Education department at or call 415-833-3450.

To learn more about Dr. Shiue’s cooking and her Thrive Kitchen classes, visit Dr Shiue’s Facebook page, The Doctor’s Spicebox. For more of her recipe ideas, check out her blog,

Linda Shiue, MD, is a primary care doctor and professionally trained chef who believes that the best medicine is prevention, based upon a healthy lifestyle. As Director of Culinary Medicine at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, she is developing a teaching kitchen to empower patients with a new set of skills and knowledge to improve their health and wellness--nutrition applied through cooking skills. Classes are offered through the Health Education Department at (415) 833-3450. In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Shiue offers cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops in which students learn to prepare seasonal produce lavishly flavored with spices and fresh herbs. Her food writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Remedy Quarterly, Salon, Culinate, and online editions of The New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine. She also has her own website,