Healthy Thanksgiving Makeover: Vegetable Appetizer

Healthy Thanksgiving Makeover: Vegetable Appetizer

Thanksgiving appetizers Jane 2013 600

Say the word "Thanksgiving" and what comes to mind? Turkey, of course, and probably sweet potatoes, stuffing, and cranberries, too. And don't forget the pumpkin pie! The thing about Thanksgiving is that you’re bound to eat a lot and that’s fine, but there are areas you can cut back on so you can save yourself for the big show. Try making a healthy Thanksgiving appetizer that's fresh and seasonal.

A large plate of raw vegetables with dips are the perfect appetizer for this time of year. They’re healthy, beautiful, and great for snacking. I happened to find some really beautiful baby vegetables, but you can use any vegetable and cut them into bite-sized pieces. However, it’s getting easier and easier to find baby vegetables at supermarkets these days. And don't bother cutting off the leaves, they add to the presentation.

Dips are incredibly easy to make and you can prepare them far in advance.

Here are the recipes for the dips below (use organic ingredients when possible):


This little sauce really stood out for me when I went to Istanbul, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since — I love anything that’s so simple but so full of flavor.

Makes 1.5 cups


  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon agave nectar
  • Maldon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Mix all the ingredients together in a glass bowl and serve chilled.


I know you've probably made guacamole before, but I really think you should give this a try. Guacamole is good, but add ginger and it's incredible! Really, give it a go. It's so quick and easy, and totally worth the effort. It'll be the first thing gone from the table.

Makes about 3-4 cups


  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 heaped tbsp of minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 squeeze of agave nectar
  • 1/2 red chili (preferably Serrano), seeds removed, chopped
  • Maldon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of about 2 limes
  • 1 large handful of cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped


Place all ingredients in a blender. I like this slightly chunky, but you can make it as smooth as you'd like it.


Why not make your own hummus? It’s so quick, and so much better than anything you’ll buy.

Makes about 1 cup


  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1-2 (depends on how garlicky you like it) cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Maldon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1. Drain about 2/3 of the liquid from the chickpea tin and reserve the rest.

2. Add the chickpeas and their remaining juices to a food processor. Add the minced garlic (you really want this minced — if it’s any bigger you'll get chunks and that's not great), cumin, and tahini. Pulse until it's combined. Season and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Pulse again, and taste.

How smooth you make the hummus is your choice. I don't like it too smooth, but go with what you like. The most important thing is that you like the way it tastes so just make sure the seasoning is good and enough, then add more lemon if you like.

Tell us about your healthy Thanksgiving appetizer ideas in the comments. 

Chef Jane Coxwell 

Image credit: Brookelyn Photography

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