A Healthier Feast is Easy With This RD-Approved Thanksgiving Shopping List

Joanna Foley

by | Updated: November 14th, 2021 | Read time: 5 minutes

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. This means that you may be thinking about what to add to your Thanksgiving shopping list this year.

While the holidays are a time to enjoy special occasion foods and indulgences, this doesn’t mean that you have to forgo good health. As you prepare your holiday shopping list, there are many healthful items to make sure you have on it.

Colorful, Healthy Side Dishes to Make With Vitacost's Thanksgiving Shopping List | Vitacost.com/blog

What to add to your Thanksgiving shopping list

Fall and winter seasons bring many healthy and delicious seasonal foods.

Here’s what to make sure you have on your list this year, and some recipes to get you started.

Farmer's Market Organic Sweet Potato Puree | Vitacost.com/blogSweet potatoes

Thankfully, this holiday staple is highly nutritious. Sweet potatoes are a bit lower in calories and carbs compared to white potatoes and provide significantly more vitamin A, which supports things like vision and a strong immune system. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of potassium, which supports healthy blood pressure. The phytochemical beta carotene is what gives them their orange color, and it serves as an antioxidant in the body. Each of these factors makes sweet potatoes excellent for helping to protect against disease.

When enjoying sweet potatoes this time of year, it’s best to avoid sugar-laden sweet potato recipes that are more like dessert than a side dish. Instead, try roasting them with olive oil and fresh herbs, or making mashed sweet potatoes.

Bare Bones Organic Turkey Bone Broth | Vitacost.com/blogBone broth

Bone broth is similar to traditional chicken and other broths, but it may have additional health benefits. Bone broth is slowly cooked for several hours (or sometimes days), which helps break down the cartilage in the bone and extract important nutrients. It is higher in protein compared to traditional broth and provides a good source of collagen, a protein found in connective tissue that may help support your joints, bones, skin and nail health and more. In addition, bone broth contains important amino acids including glutamine and glycine. Some research shows that glutamine may help support gut health, while glycine is known for its benefits on sleep and many other things.

You can use bone broth in place of traditional broth in any recipe, including gravies, mashed potatoes, & soups. In addition to buying it on the grocery store shelves or in supplement form, you may want to save your leftover turkey bones to make your own batch after the meat is gone!


This may seem like a no-brainer for Thanksgiving, but this main dish has a lot to offer nutrient-wise. In addition to being a high-quality source of protein, turkey provides a good source of B vitamins and the minerals iron, selenium, and zinc. Each of these play an important role in your health. White meat turkey (from the breast and wings) contains less fat and calories than dark meat (from the legs and thighs), and eating turkey without the skin will also save on calories and fat.

It’s best to purchase whole roasted or freshly carved all-natural turkey to get the most natural source of meat and to avoid loads of added salt or potentially harmful preservatives. In addition to enjoying this as a main dish, you can incorporate turkey into appetizers, side dishes and more!

NOW Real Food Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds | Vitacost.com/blogPumpkin seeds

Also called “pepitas”, these little seeds pack a lot of quality nutrition. They are one of the richest food sources of magnesium, with just 1 oz providing 37% of the daily value for adults. Magnesium supports your body’s stress response, helps manage blood sugar control, supports sleep and more. Pumpkin seeds also provide healthy, unsaturated fats that help keep you full. They are also higher in protein compared to other nuts and seeds, with just ¼ cup providing up to 9 grams of plant-based protein. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, and provide the minerals iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc which support things like a healthy immune system, wound healing, normal blood pressure levels and more.

You can enjoy pumpkin seeds on top of yogurt, oatmeal, soups, salads, as part of homemade trail mix and much more.

Pomegranate seeds

These are another type of “seed” that are actually the edible part of a fruit. Not only are they delicious, but they are one of the other most nutritious seasonal foods you can eat. While pomegranate seeds are high in vitamin C, fiber and other important nutrients, perhaps their best health benefit is their antioxidant capacity. Research has shown pomegranate juice to have three times the antioxidant activity of green tea and red wine.

These powerful and delicious seeds can be added to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, or simply eaten by themselves.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which is shown to support your health in many ways. Some of their important health benefits include supporting detoxification, reducing cancer risk, and fighting inflammation. Brussels sprouts are also packed with fiber that will fill you up and support your blood sugar and digestive health.

They can be roasted, steamed, or sauteed and can be incorporated into a variety of dishes or enjoyed as a side, seasoned as desired.

Farmer's Market Organic Canned Pumpkin | Vitacost.com/blogCanned pumpkin

This is another holiday item favorite that thankfully benefits your health. Canned pumpkin is low in calories while high in many beneficial nutrients like fiber, potassium, vitamin C and the antioxidant beta carotene.

While you may know canned pumpkin as being a key ingredient for pumpkin pie, there are many other lower-sugar ways to use it. Try mixing it into oatmeal, smoothies, fall soups, or even as part of a pasta sauce.

Vitacost Certified Organic Dried Cranberries | Vitacost.com/blogCranberries

Cranberries aren’t just for Christmas time. These seasonal berries contain vitamin C and many other antioxidants and plant compounds that support many aspects of your health. Cranberries are well-known for their ability to help support urinary tract health. They are also extremely heart healthy by supporting healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.

However, because cranberries are more tart than other berries, they are often prepared with loads of added sugar, which takes away from their health benefits. Dried cranberries are a popular way to enjoy this fruit, but be sure to be mindful of the added sugar content when purchasing. You can also reap their health benefits by using whole cranberries in smoothies or making a lower-sugar homemade cranberry sauce.

So whether you include just one or all of these delicious ingredients, be sure to enjoy yourself, and have a happy Thanksgiving and holiday season!