Easy Thanksgiving Appetizers (Paleo, Gluten-Free)

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Nothing says “thank-you” like showing up to the Thanksgiving party or gathering with something in tow! Impress your family and friends with these simple bites for your pre-meal festivities.

(Bonus: By reaching for protein and fat-based snacks, you are less likely to overindulge or go into that dreaded ‘food coma’ come Thanksgiving meal).

Here’s the lineup:

Roasted Cinnamon Pecans

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Crab Cakes

Prosciutto Wrapped Dates

Garlic & Herb Stuffed Mushrooms

Deviled Eggs

Easy Sausage Balls

Spinach Artichoke Dip (inspired by Empowered Sustenence)


Roasted Cinnamon Pecans

  • 1 egg white
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon Protocol stevia
  • 2 cups of raw pecans



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl add the egg white, spices and stevia and whisk until fully combined.
  • Add in the pecans and toss with two spoons or your hands until coated.
  • Pour the mixture on your baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cook on the baking sheet.


Roasted Shrimp Cocktail & Sugar-Free Cocktail Sauce


  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and thawed if frozen
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges
  • cocktail sauce (below)


  • 1 cup organic strained tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt



  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Toss shrimp with oil, salt and pepper and spread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.
  • Roast, turning once, until shrimp is pink and just cooked through (about 5-10 minutes, depending on size of shrimp).
  • Serve chilled with paleo cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
  • For sauce: Whisk all ingredients together; refridgerate


Crab Cakes (a la Healing Gourmet)


  • 1 lb. crab meat, cooked
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, steamed well
  • 2 pastured eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut flour
  • 3 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise (homemade or Primal Kitchen)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. avocado oil or coconut oil



  • In a medium bowl, add the steamed cauliflower. Gently break up into small pieces, mashing some. Leave some pieces intact for texture.
  • Add the crab meat and parsley. Gently fold the mixture to distribute the ingredients evenly without breaking up the crab too much.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, mayonnaise, Old Bay and salt. Pour over the crab meat mixture and gently fold.
  • Now sift the coconut flour over the crab and gently fold the mixture until everything is uniform. The coconut flour is what helps give these cakes that crispy-golden crust.
  • Transfer to the fridge to chill and firm up – about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Remove crab mixture from fridge and form into patties. I made mine about 2 inches thick and 3 inches in diameter.
  • Heat oil in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add the crab cakes, being careful to not overcrowd the pan (this will cause steaming, not searing). Cook about 3 minutes to golden brown, then flip and cook another 3 minutes.
  • Place pan-fried crab cakes on a baking sheet and transfer to the preheated oven to cook through (12 to 15 minutes)
  • Serve with fresh lemon wedges and Paleo mayo


Prosciutto Wrapped Dates


  • 12 medjool dates
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 12 slices manchego or parmesan cheese or goat cheese crumbles
  • few pinches of sea salt
  • sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped



  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Slice prosciutto in half.  Thinly slice cheese so that it will fit into the dates.  Use a knife to make a slit in the dates, removing the pits.  Stuff cheese in the middle of dates, then fold prosciutto and wrap around the dates.
  • Place in a skillet or baking dish and bake for 10-12 minutes or until dates begin to blister.
  • When the dates come out of the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes before placing on serving dish.  Arrange on a bed of arugula and sprinkle a dash of salt and pinch of fresh rosemary on top if desired.


Garlic & Herb Stuffed Mushrooms (inspired by A Squirrel in the Kitchen)


8 oz mushrooms (approx. 10)

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

1/4 TSP salt, or more to taste

1/2 TSP Provence herbs

1/2 TBSP lemon juice

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 TBSP fresh Italian parsley, chopped



Rinse the mushrooms under running water. Pat dry and remove the stems.

In a mortar, pound together the garlic, 1/4 TSP of salt, and provence herbs to form a rough paste.

Transfer the paste to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley.

Add the mushrooms and mix with a spoon to cover the mushrooms with the marinade sauce.

Set aside and let the mushrooms marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish and spoon the leftover marinade sauce on top of the mushrooms.

Add a little drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are nicely brown.

Serve hot.


Deviled Eggs


  • 12 Hardboiled Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp Paleo Mayo (homemade) or Primal Kitchen Mayo
  • ¾ tsp dried minced Onion
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ tsp Dijon Mustard
  • ½ tsp fresh Dill
  • 1 ½ tsp Coconut Vinegar
  • Coarse Sea Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)
  • pinch ground Smoked Paprika
  • fresh Chives and/or Dill (for garnish)


  • Cut the hardboiled eggs in half. Scoop out the yolk into a bowl.
  • Add all other ingredients and mix together. Taste for coarse sea salt and black pepper. Once seasoned, scoop or pipe the mixture back into the halves.
  • Garnish with a little smoked paprika and/or chives or dill and serve!


Easy Sausage Balls

  • 1 pound sausage (try this homemade one)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 2 large pasture-raised eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda



  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Combine all ingredients. A stand mixer with the paddle attachment works well.
  • Form into balls 1¼ inches in diameter.
  • Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
  • Makes about 35 balls.


Spinach Artichoke Dip (inspired by Empowered Sustenence)

1 tbsp (15 ml) coconut or avocado oil

1/3 cup (45 g) diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup (120 g) peeled summer squash

¾ cup chicken broth

6 oz (170 g) drained jarred artichoke hearts

2 tbsp (8 g) nutritional yeast 

½ tsp ground mace

6 oz (170 g) package of frozen spinach, thawed



Add the oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and garlic to the pan while you peel and chop the summer squash. Cut the summer squash into pieces that are the same size as the diced onion, then add to the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Cook until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally so the squash doesn’t brown, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the softened vegetables to a blender and add the chicken broth. Gently squeeze the artichoke hearts to release any excess water before you weigh them out. Add the artichoke hearts, nutritional yeast and mace to the blender – process until you have a thick, smooth, “creamy” sauce.

Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and return to the stove top at a low heat. Drain the spinach and squeeze out any excess water, then chop finely. Stir the frozen spinach into the sauce and simmer until the dip is warmed through. The dip probably won’t need any additional salt because of the artichoke hearts, but taste now and add any extra salt if you wish. Serve the dip warm with crunchy veggies (baby carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini), Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips, Livin’ Spoonful Herb Crackers or homemade nut-based crackers and enjoy.


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