Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for your blessings. The holiday means different things to different people, but for most of us, Thanksgiving is synonymous with festive meals, parades, football, family and friends, and of course, turkey. Sharing a traditional turkey dinner with family and friends is an event to look forward to – unless the feast leaves you with aching joints. You don’t have to give up flavor and pleasure to enjoy Thanksgiving. A few ingredient changes and food swaps can make all the difference. Read on for some simple ways to make this holiday delicious and healthy. Happy Thanksgiving! 5 Thanksgiving Treats for a Pain-Free Feast [caption id="attachment_442" align="alignright" width="300"] Organic turkeys are free of GMOs, antibiotics and hormones.[/caption] 1. Turkey: Turkey itself is a very healthy source of lean protein. However, the traditional turkey in most supermarkets is far from the healthy poultry our ancestors may have enjoyed at Thanksgiving. Supermarket turkeys are generally fed grains that were grown with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These grains become part of the turkey, and part of the food we eat. GMOs are known to cause digestive issues, leading to leaky gut, which contributes to autoimmune diseases such as arthritis. Conventional turkeys are also fed antibiotics and hormones to fatten them up. These antibiotics reduce the healthy microbes in our intestines, further leading to leaky gut syndrome. The hormones disrupt our hormonal system, leading to many health problems. Instead, choose an organic turkey from a local farmer or health-food store. It may cost a little more, but you’ll be assured there are no GMOs, antibiotics or hormones. You’ll get a bird that is natural, plump, and tasty – a healthy treat that your joints will thank you for. 2. Turkey stuffing: Bread, seasonings, and butter make up the time-honored classic turkey stuffing. Wheat is known to cause inflammation and contribute to immune disease, including arthritis. Wheat is also largely responsible for our epidemic of obesity, and being overweight puts more pressure on your joints, increasing joint pain. Instead, try a gluten-free stuffing, using grains like millet. Or try this Apple Sausage Stuffing, which is completely grain-free. It has sautéed celery, onions, garlic, sausage, apples, herbs and mushrooms on a base of almond flour. [caption id="attachment_443" align="alignright" width="300"] Organic vegetables and healthy oils are anti-inflammatory. Your joints will thank you![/caption] 3. Vegetables: Old fashioned string beans, roast potatoes, roast sweet potatoes, pumpkin puree, and parsnip and turnip puree are all delicious. They can be very healthy, or inflame your joints, depending on how you prepare them. First, choose organic vegetables, especially potatoes or anything on the Dirty Dozen list. Conventional vegetables are sprayed with pesticides. Potatoes in particular are on the Dirty Dozen™ 2014 hit list of the Environmental Working Group, (EWG.org) because they are among the vegetables most heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals. Next, choose healthy fats. Most vegetable dishes are prepared with some kind of oil or fat. Olive oil is anti-inflammatory. Coconut oil is another option to try as it imparts a lovely flavor and fragrance to vegetables, and is also anti-inflammatory. You can also enjoy some organic butter on your vegetables. Avoid inflammatory oils such as corn oil or any vegetable oil, and avoid conventional butter which generally contains hormones and antibiotics. Your joints will thank you! 4. Cranberry sauce: Cranberries are chock full of antioxidants, and are a delicious treat. The culprits here are the added sugar, and the type of oil you use to make the sauce. Try this sugarless cranberry sauce. It uses pineapple juice and apple sauce for sweetness, as well as a touch of honey, an all-natural sweetener. You’ll get all the flavor, with none of the joint-inflaming sugar shock. [caption id="attachment_444" align="alignright" width="300"] Make a delicious Thanksgiving dessert with pumpkin and natural sweeteners.[/caption] 5. Dessert! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, apple pie and pecan pie… oh my! What’s a feast without dessert? These desserts can be healthy treats because they are mainly based on vegetables, fruits and nuts. Or they can be a nightmare for your poor achy joints. The key to making them a nutritious delight is to use natural sweeteners, such as honey or fruit juice, grain-free flours such as almond, and organic fruits and vegetables. Click this link for a simple recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Pie, without grains. The beauty of this recipe is that it uses canned (organic) pumpkin, saving you time. You can also find other pumpkin recipes on this site, including pumpkin ice cream (using raw cashews and coconut milk), pumpkin “bread” pudding and pumpkin custard. Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast, and feel even better the next day!