8 Healthy (ish) Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

October 29, 2020

Thanksgiving is by far one of the best holidays. Seriously, what’s not to love? You get to surround yourself with loved ones, spend the day cooking and baking delicious food, and then eating and drinking to heart’s content before going to bed at 8 pm without any judgment.

But, as we all know, Thanksgiving is a holiday that is also associated with overindulgence—both in food and drink. Luckily, people have gotten really good at disguising healthy food as super delicious food, and there are lots of decadent dishes you can make for Thanksgiving that aren’t loaded with fat and calories.

Here are 8 side dishes you can make for Thanksgiving that are healthy, nutritious, and surprisingly delicious. Now you won’t have to feel guilty for having that extra glass of wine or slice of pecan pie.


Squash Gratin with Poblanos and Cream

If there was ever a season to eat squash, it’s Fall. If there was ever a holiday to eat squash, it’s Thanksgiving. This mouthwatering side dish is super easy to make and can be prepared the night before, stored in the fridge, and heated the next day. The dish has a nice little kick thanks to the poblano peppers but it doesn’t outshine the star of the dish—the butternut squash. It’s also creamy and cheesy without being over-the-top indulgent. This dish will not disappoint.

Find the full recipe at Style Blueprint.


Squash Gratin with Poblanos and Cream
Photo credit: Style Blueprint

Sweet Potato Rounds with Herbed Ricotta and Walnuts

Forget the overly-sweet, marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and try this healthy-but-delicious alternative instead. All you’ll need are a few ingredients—sweet potato, ricotta, dried cranberries, honey, and some spices. These sweet and creamy sweet potato rounds take less than an hour to make and will definitely become a new family favorite.

Find the step-by-step instructions at The Roasted Root.


Sweet Potato Rounds with Herbed Ricotta and Walnuts
Photo credit: The Roasted Root

Mushroom Gravy

What’s Thanksgiving without gravy? Sad. Sad, is what it is. Gravy is a side dish that pretty much gets thrown onto everything. Mashed potatoes, turkey, green beans—it all gets gravy. Since you’re more than likely to go in for thirds with this liquid gold, why not make it just a little bit healthier? Don’t worry, you won’t taste the difference. You’ll cut out a lot of fat by eliminating the turkey drippings and using mushroom stock.

The full recipe can be found at Oh My Veggies.


Mushroom Gravy
Photo credit: Oh My Veggies

Broccoli Casserole

Green beans aren’t the only veggie that can be used in a creamy, savory casserole. This cheesy broccoli casserole with breadcrumb topping is so flavorful, you’ll definitely need to make two of them. Not to mention, it’s actually jam-packed with nutrition thanks to the two and a half pounds of broccoli, mushrooms, Greek yogurt, and whole-wheat breadcrumbs.

Ingredients and instructions can be found at Kristine’s Kitchen Blog.


Broccoli Casserole
Photo credit: Kristine’s Kitchen Blog

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Standard mashed potatoes, especially the ones served at Thanksgiving, are usually loaded with carbs, cheese, cream, butter, and all the things that quickly expand our waistlines. Instead of potatoes, you’ll use cauliflower. And you’ll still use a tiny bit of butter but what really makes this dish out-of-this-world is the secret ingredient—low-fat cream cheese. Add some garlic and rosemary and you have a drool-worthy Thanksgiving side dish.

You can find the full recipe at The Cookie Rookie.


Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
Photo credit: The Cookie Rookie

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

There really is never a wrong time for mac and cheese. In fact, it makes an excellent Thanksgiving side dish! This particular recipe uses whole wheat elbow pasta and sharp white cheddar cheese. And since it uses an Instant Pot, the entire dish takes less than 30 minutes to make. Feel free to add broccoli, peas, spinach, squash, or other veggies to add a bit more nutrition.

Kristine’s Kitchen Blog has the full recipe.


Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Photo credit: Kristine’s Kitchen Blog

Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries, and Pepitas

The cold, crisp crunch of a salad is always a nice way to break up the more gluttonous, rich foods at the dinner table. The tartness of the Granny Smith apples pairs perfectly with the sweet cranberries and the earthiness of the pepitas. Add a little bit of goat cheese for a bit of creaminess without being too unhealthy. For the dressing, you’ll just need some olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, and mustard.

The entire recipe can be found at Cookie and Kate.


 Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries, and Pepitas
Photo credit: Cookie and Kate

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Dessert is obligatory at Thanksgiving. Usually, you’ll have your standard options of pumpkin pie and maybe one or two other flavors of pie that only get half-eaten. Maybe a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Sound familiar? Take your pumpkin pie game up a notch and make these single-serving pumpkin pie cupcakes that are way yummier than your standard pumpkin pie. Also, the coconut whipped topping is insane.

Find out how to make them at My Whole Food Life.


Paleo Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes Recipe
Photo credit: My Whole Food Life

Written by Ashley Brewer for Knockaround. 

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