Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to really get into the holiday spirit. The fall season is a time for family togetherness and great food, as well as tons of changes in weather, colors, and the amount of daylight outside. It's the time of year that everyone starts thinking about what they have to be thankful for, and it leads right into the biggest season for giving and being a blessing to others.
I really believe that this time of year is for changes and new beginnings. So many wonderful things happen over the fall and winter holiday season. The holidays are a popular time to get engaged and get married, most babies are conceived and born during this time of year, and the holidays are a time to see family that you probably haven't seen all year long. It's the end of the year, so people are thinking about all of the goals they set for the last year, and what they want to accomplish in the new year.
What better time to decorate, make fun crafts, put together creative treats, read books on being thankful, and even consider all that you're thankful for. So I compiled a bunch of great treats that we've been working on at our house to celebrate Thanksgiving together. If I'm lucky, we'll still have some to take with us on Thanksgiving Day and share with family. I really hope you find some you like—or at least get some inspiration.
Here's a sneak peek of the recipes you'll find in this article:
- Apple cinnamon chips
- Pumpkin hummus
- Maple pumpkin fall harvest trail mix
- Candy corn fruit parfaits
- Turkey sandwich
- Tangerine pumpkins
- Mini pumpkin pies
- Turkey vegetable tray
- Turkey fruit tray
- Mayflower mashed potato boats
- Sweet potato fries
- Thanksgiving paper-bag popcorn turkey
- Mini Thanksgiving apple tarts
1. Apple Cinnamon Chips
These are a great, really simple treat to make with your kids that will likely disappear soon after they are officially done. During the fall season, these are one of those snacks that we make over and over again and are enjoyed by everyone in our family.
- Start by cutting each apple in half. If using a butter knife, even this part can be done by your child.
- Use a melon baller to remove the core from each half.
- Cut into thin slices, either the long way to make circles or the short way into half circles.
- Lay them out in an even layer on your dehydrator trays and set your dehydrator to fruit. Expect them to take about 12 to 24 hours.
- If you don't have a dehydrator, you can lay them out on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake them on the lowest oven setting for 1 to 3 hours.
2. Pumpkin Hummus
We eat tons of hummus over here throughout the year anyway. It's definitely one of our favorite snacks to make together. It only made sense to integrate some pumpkin for the fall. If you are making everything homemade, like your chickpeas, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, or even pumpkin pie spice, your kids are getting an even better lesson on cooking and using food!
- 2 cups chickpeas (drained and rinsed if canned - homemade is best)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade preferred)
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or raw honey)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (homemade preferred)
- 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt (only if using homemade beans - omit for canned beans)
- For homemade chickpeas from dried beans (the best option), soak your beans in a large pot with lots of water overnight first. I recommend this Instant Pot recipe for quickly making chickpeas.
- Pour each of your ingredients into the food processor and process it down until smooth.
- Serve with crackers, veggies, or even on toast. Yum!
3. Maple Pumpkin Fall Harvest Trail Mix
Yum! This mix is sweet, crunchy and delicious. With all of the classic fall flavors you'd expect, it's also super easy to make with your kids. If you'd rather your kids not work over the stove, you can even pop the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees F. They can always help you load the oven before it gets too hot and mix everything when it cools.
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or raw honey)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (homemade preferred)
- 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 2/3 cup pecan halves
- 1/3 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seed kernels)
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup dried cherries
- 1/3 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Pour your maple syrup into a large pot and melt over medium heat on the stove (until boiling).
- Turn the heat down a little and add all of your ingredients, except the fruit. Stir until everything is coated completely.
- When well mixed, remove your pot from the stove and pour it out onto your cookie sheet to cool. Everything will harden and dry as it cools.
- When cool, mix in all of your dried fruit. Enjoy!
4. Candy Corn Fruit Parfaits
We made these delicious creations for Halloween together and they were amazing. They were so fun and easy in fact, that we had to do them again for Thanksgiving. Mandarin oranges that my son loves to peel himself, freshly chopped pineapple (his favorite) and homemade whipped cream make this dish just perfect for making a healthy candy corn parfait. Yum!
- Easy-peel mandarin oranges
- 1 fresh pineapple
- Vanilla flavored yogurt
- Peel and separate your orange slices.
- Dice your fresh pineapple.
- Layer all of your items into cups and enjoy!
5. Turkey Sandwich
Make every meal a fun craft by getting creative with your meal items. Encourage your kids to make different shapes or pictures with their food. Ask questions like: How could we make a turkey? What would you need to make some legs for your turkey? And then accommodate them by helping them find the right ingredients and pull their pictures together.
This precious picture used a sandwich cut into shapes for the turkey's body, carrots for feathers, celery for the grass, a cashew for the waddle, and raisins for eyes. Your children will have a blast playing with their food and then eating it.
6. Tangerine Pumpkins
This another really cute snack that just encourages your children to think differently about their food and the shapes around them. Maybe they'll have ideas on other shapes/pictures you can put together with food for future crafts!
- Easy-peel tangerines
- Let your child peel the oranges.
- Cut small pieces of celery and the leaves off and stick them into the top to look like stems.
7. Mini Pumpkin Pies
My four-year-old son just loves baking with me. He's a whiz at mixing dough and making pie crusts. We've already made four pumpkin pies at our house. When I suggested some mini pumpkin pies shaped like pumpkins, he really lit up. This was fun to do with him and he had child-size pies when we were finished.
- 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup honey, melted
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter)
- 1/2 cup milk
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and prep two mini muffin pans by greasing them with some coconut oil.
- Mix your crusts first by combining your flour and salt, and then mixing in your coconut oil with a fork until crumbly.
- Pour in your milk and mix until you have a dough-like consistency.
- Dump this out on a clean surface and cut into 3 portions or more, for easier rolling. Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness.
- You can either use a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter to cut out your pie doughs or use scissors to shape them just right.
- Press them into your mini muffin cups.
- Now let's mix your pie filling. Mix all ingredients together. Your mixture will be watery.
- Spoon it into your mini pie crusts, all the way to the top.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
8. Turkey Vegetable Tray
It looks like the theme this season is playing with your food. There's no specific formula for pulling together a dish like this, or even specific veggies to use. We like to buy all kinds of interesting vegetables at the grocery store when we visit. Why not pull them all out and allow your child(ren) to come up with a way to make a turkey with them?
This would be fantastic for everyday snacking through November, snacks for a group of kids, or even a great way to get your kids involved in pulling together a creative appetizer to serve family members on Thanksgiving.
9. Turkey Fruit Tray
Here's another fun project to do with your kids, allowing them to be creative with some food. It just so happens that a pear is just the perfect shape for a great turkey body, but the rest of the fruit used really doesn't matter. It can be laid out nicely on a platter, or the fruit pieces can be skewered onto wooden food skewers.
My son especially loves this craft because he's crazy about fruit, he can play with his food, and he can use his creativity to really come up with something fantastic. This would make a great appetizer tray for Thanksgiving Day, if only it lasts that long with your kids around.
10. Mayflower Mashed Potato Boats
My son just loves mashed potatoes, and he loves cooking. So this recipe is right up his alley. This adorable recipe by Hallmark is not only a fun way to talk about the story of what happened at the first Thanksgiving, but it's also a fun way to eat your mashed potatoes. If you'd like to use these as Thanksgiving Day appetizers, I'm sure you'll be the hit of the celebration.
- 12 large red potatoes, sliced in half
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoon real butter
- 2 stalks chives, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 1 zucchini, sliced and cut into 12 thin 1 1/2 inch strips
- 3 large carrots, cut into 12 thin 1 1/2 inch strips
- Poppy seeds for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place sliced potato halves in a bowl and toss with olive oil. Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet and turn them cut-side down. Bake until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow potatoes to cool slightly.
- While potatoes are still warm, scoop out the center section using a melon baller or small spoon. Leave about ¼ to ⅛ inch around outside edge of potato. Place all potato centers in a medium mixing bowl with butter, and mash together until butter is completely melted. Mix in sour cream and herbs until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Scoop spoonfuls of potato mixture back into boat shells with a spoon.
- Use toothpicks to skewer through the top and bottom of the zucchini and carrot strips to form the sails. Insert a toothpick sail into each potato half. Sprinkle tops with poppy seeds.
11. Sweet Potato Fries
This great recipe, modified from Clean Eating Magazine, is one we use often. Sweet potatoes are one of those seasonal fall vegetables that you simply can't pass up. They are deliciously sweet naturally, and packed full of amazing nutrients.
- 3 teaspoons rosemary
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt
- Preheat oven to 425°F and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, melt your coconut oil.
- Wash your sweet potatoes. Cut each potato lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Stacking 2 slices together, cut each into 1/2-inch strips.
- In a large bowl, toss potato strips with coconut oil until evenly coated.
- Spread potatoes on your prepared cookie sheets in a single layer.
- Sprinkle with rosemary.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping potatoes over halfway through the baking time, until lightly browned.
- Remove them from the oven when finished, and sprinkle them with salt.
12. Thanksgiving Paper-Bag Popcorn Turkey
What a clever way to serve your popcorn! This makes a fantastic snack for your kids, as it's all-natural, your kids will have a blast making the paper bag turkey, and they'll learn how to make popcorn at home. With some truly simple ingredients, and an imagination, this could be a lot of fun!
- 1 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- Your preferred seasonings (garlic, cinnamon, etc.)
- Toss your popcorn kernels in your oil, salt, and seasonings.
- Measure 1/8 cup popcorn kernels into turkey leg paper bag, and 3/4 cup into your turkey body paper bag.
- Carefully build your turkey, according to this Martha Stewart tutorial.
- Microwave until there are more than 3 seconds between popping sounds. This should only take 3 minutes or so. Most microwaves have a popcorn setting.
- Carefully remove bags, set up, and enjoy!
13. Mini Thanksgiving Apple Tarts
This sweet recipe was modified from the recipe on Pure Wow to include all clean-eating ingredients. We love these precious little apple tarts even more than the regular sized ones, simply due to the bite-sized, individual portions and the little turkey on top. For some reason, food is always so much more fun when it is in mini sizes. I wonder if you've had the same experience.
- 3 apples, cut in half and cored
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Pinch of pink Himalayan salt
- 2 tablespoons real butter
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup cold butter (cut into cubes)
- 2/3 cup organic whole milk
- Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place the lids with their rings from six wide-mouth canning jars on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- In a large bowl, combine your flour and cold butter together with a fork to start your pie dough. When crumbly and thoroughly combined, add in salt and milk until a soft dough forms.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough to make sure all ingredients are combined and then roll it out. Keep rolling the dough until it’s 1/4 inch thick (be sure to flatten any creases).
- Place a canning ring on top of a sheet of dough and use a small knife to trace around the ring, cutting the dough ¼ inch larger all the way around. Repeat until you have six circles of dough. Press each circle of dough into a canning jar ring with its lid. Use a small knife to trim any excess dough if needed.
- Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork 3 or 4 times. Transfer your mini pie crusts to the freezer and chill for 15 to 20 minutes.
- While the dough chills, thinly slice each apple half. Keep the apples together after slicing so you can place an entire sliced half into each tart shell.
- In a small bowl, whisk the coconut sugar with the flour, cinnamon, and salt together for your filling.
- Remove the tart shells from the freezer and place half a sliced apple inside each one.
- Top each tart with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture and 1 teaspoon of butter.
- With your remaining pie dough, cut out your turkey shapes needed for each apple tart. We'll put on the eyes last.
- Bake until the shells are golden and the apples are tender, 23 to 26 minutes. Cool at least 5 minutes, and add raisin eyes to each one before serving.
What Is Clean Eating?
Clean eating simply means that I don't use any processed foods or refined ingredients in my recipes. I avoid pre-packaged mixes and ingredients and instead use all-natural wholesome ingredients, and food items that I have either grown, canned, or preserved myself here at home. You can rest assured that all of my clean eating recipes are loaded with nutritious goodness. There's no need for any guilt when eating anything or feeding it to your family.
So watching me write this article for you, my sweet little boy has gotten inspired to make even more treats together. He's over here listing off all of the fun treats he'd like to make today with me. He's got such an imagination. I hope this gets your little ones excited just like it has mine.
We really love getting into the spirit of the holiday together, so I try getting him involved as much as possible. In fact, we were just in the grocery store this morning buying ingredients for our Thanksgiving meal coming up, and he wanted to buy the orange and purple cauliflower, the purple potatoes and the red bananas to make some really interesting dishes for everyone.
So many people complain about their children being disinterested and not involved in the daily happenings, especially around the holidays. Get them involved! Let them cook with you, do fun crafts with you, pick out gifts for friends and family with you, and think of ways to be a blessing to others. You'd be surprised how involved they want to be when they can be an active and important part of all of the festivities, and when they see their parents trying to include them. Check out all of my fun fall articles for lots of fun ways to do just that this year!
© 2018 Victoria Van Ness
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on November 23, 2018:
Your comments are wonderful. Thank you! I'm so glad everyone enjoyed the recipes!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 20, 2018:
I am so impressed with the vast number of recipes you featured. Everything looks so good. Thanks so much as think first I will try a couple of the recipes soon, such as the Apple Cinnamon Chips. I have a dehydrator.
RTalloni on November 19, 2018:
Such a delightful article and the treats are superb. The tangerine pumpkins are an out of the park hit, but all are home runs. May your family have a lovely holiday and many thanks for your work on this post.
Susan Hazelton from Summerfield, Florida on November 19, 2018:
I love these ideas. I will be trying a couple of them this Thanksgiving.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on November 19, 2018:
There's some really good ideas there. I love the sound of the pumpkin hummus. I'll make a note of that recipe. Thankyou. =)