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4 Quick and Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Thanksgiving is the classic double-edged sword. On the one side, we love the holiday for all the rich and delicious food and drink we get to indulge in – but on that other, sharper side, we dread Thanksgiving because of the usual spike in weight-gain caused by all the rich and delicious food and drink we indulge in.

While it can be tough to escape the traditional roast turkey with stuffing (and all the calories that come with that), you do have a chance to ‘lighten the load’ with creative Thanksgiving side dishes. Instead of potatoes and gravy, or other unhealthy fats, why not substitute it with a fresh and tangy broccoli-bacon salad?

Plus, when you eat lighter during dinner, you’ll have even more room for dessert! ;) Talk about a win-win!

4 Quick and Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

1. Golden-Roasted Vegetables

For some earthy flavor, diverse texture, and vibrant fall colors, roast up some veggies like Brussels sprouts, carrots, and onions! Since you’re oven-roasting instead of frying, you’re lowering the bad (saturated) fats and increasing the good (unsaturated) fats for you and your Thanksgiving soiree. Your party, and your waistline, will appreciate it!


Recipe:
  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Cook-time: 25 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¾ lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 2” coins
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced into 2” pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into 2” pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Dash of chopped rosemary
  • Dash of chopped thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F, then scatter the chopped up veggies on a large baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt, pepper rosemary and thyme, then stir to evenly distribute on veggies.
  2. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until veggies are tender and golden brown. Be sure to shake up veggies around 10 – 12 minutes into baking.
  3. Just before serving, toss in roasted pecans and dried cranberries.

2. Bacon-Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

Who said green beans are boring? With a bit of love, i.e. – fried onions and bacon – this dish is a twist on a Thanksgiving classic! Bite into juicy green beans wrapped in a salty ribbon of bacon for a bit of holiday heaven. And if you’re wondering, this recipe is only healthy if you exercise portion control… so good luck!

Recipe:

  • Yields: 20 servings
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅔ cup French's fried onions
  • 3 ½ cup trimmed green beans, blanched and cooled
  • 1 package bacon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, then grease a 9” x 13” baking sheet
  2. In a large bowl, mix together mushroom soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, French's fried onions, then the green beans.
  3. Pull together small bundles of green beans, wrap them with 1 strip of bacon, then place them bacon-seam-side down on the dish.
  4. Cover dish with aluminum foil, then bake until bacon is fully cooked (35 – 40 minutes).

3. Ginger Scallion Baked Spaghetti Squash

For a warm and simple dish with the rich flavor that will satisfy any Thanksgiving craving, let baked spaghetti squash shine. With ingredients you could pull out of a cornucopia, we think this side dish matches the season even better than the requisite turkey!

Recipe:

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 – 40 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • ½ spaghetti squash, cooked and scraped out
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1” chunk of ginger, peeled
  • 3 sliced scallions (separate the whites from the greens)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Dash of toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F, slice the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds from one half. Drizzle the inside of this half with extra virgin olive oil, set face-down on a baking sheet and poke holes into the squash with a fork.
  2. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes or until lightly browned on the outside. When poked with a fork, the inside should be tender but still slightly firm. Scrape out the inside of the spaghetti squash and set aside.
  3. Puree carrots with water, ginger, scallion whites, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and brown sugar.
  4. Toss together with spaghetti squash, then top off with scallion greens and toasted sesame seeds.

4. Broccoli-Bacon Salad

The ultimate in uniting different textures and flavors, broccoli-bacon salad is a crowd-pleaser that packs a healthy punch. Since the main ingredient is mean, green broccoli, you can rest assured it’s a healthy Thanksgiving side dish alternative, even if bacon is the ingredient most people are drawn to. ;)

Recipe:

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:


–> For the salad

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 heads broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

–> For the dressing

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a saucepan, and fill a large bowl with cold water.
  2. Add chopped broccoli to boiling water and cook until tender, 1 – 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, then place them in the bowl of cold water. Once cool, drain broccoli florets in a colander.
  3. In a large bowl, mix broccoli, carrots, red onion, cranberries, almonds and bacon bits.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and stir to evenly distribute.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash