Thanksgiving is about so much more than the turkey: from stuffing to sweet potato casserole, there are so many traditional Thanksgiving sides to think about, and unfortunately, that tends to be where a lot of the empty calories are hiding.
Turkey on its own is actually quite healthy, and there’s no reason you can’t carry that through to the rest of your meal, all the while hanging on to the delicious traditional flavors. With that in mind, here are ten of our favorite healthy Thanksgiving sides to enjoy the holiday without packing on extra pounds.
1. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Walnuts
Brussels sprouts are one of our favorite Thanksgiving vegetables, and on their own, they’re super healthy. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin C, soluble fiber, and a variety of phytochemicals and other nutrients. The problem comes when they’re cooked in too much butter or with fatty bacon. In this dish, they’re paired with sweet grapes and walnuts and drizzled with sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar, for a healthy dish rich in the flavors of fall.
2. Creamy Fall Soup in Acorn Squash Bowls
This dish is beautiful, tasty, healthy, and easy — what else could you ask for on Thanksgiving? The roasted acorn squash bowls hold a creamy, vegan fall soup made with sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash — all great sources of vitamin A –, and fiber-rich red lentils, which lend this soup some body.
3. Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
This salad includes some of our favorite Thanksgiving ingredients: squash, cranberries, and pepitas. It also features nutty farro, peppery arugula, and a bright citrus dressing with a hint of maple syrup.
4. Green Beans with Almonds
Many of us grew up with heavy green bean casserole, made with cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions. This easy, lighter green bean recipe pairs the fresh green vegetables with slivered almonds, lemon, and just a touch of butter. Not only will it be one of the quickest recipes to get on your Thanksgiving table, but it’s delicious as well.
5. Wild Rice and Sweet Potato Salad
This hearty salad is not only a fantastic addition to your selection of healthy Thanksgiving sides, it also serves as the perfect main for vegetarian or vegan guests. Made with wild rice, protein-rich Puy lentils, and roasted sweet potatoes, the salad sings of the autumn harvest.
6. Vegan Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese might not seem like it belongs in the healthy Thanksgiving sides category, but this vegan version absolutely does. With a creamy sauce made with pumpkin purée, almond milk, and nutritional yeast, this pasta bake tastes decadent, but it’s a truly wholesome choice.
7. Healthier Cornbread
It’s tough to make cornbread completely healthy, but this version, made with low-fat and protein-rich Greek yogurt instead of too much butter or oil, is much better for you than the traditional version, and it’s just as moist and tasty, making it one of our favorite healthy Thanskgiving sides.
8. Carrot Soufflé
This carrot- and parsnip-based soufflé is a gourmet addition to any Thanksgiving table. A combination of the sweet spice of cinnamon and a bit of sharp cheddar cheese lends an enormous amount of flavor to this dish, which still manages to be relatively healthy thanks to the use of whole milk in place of cream.
9. Roasted Carrots with Farro, Chickpeas, and Herbed Crème Fraiche
This vegetable dish has a bit of a Mediterranean flair, with a base of farro and chickpeas and a sauce made with crème fraiche and fresh parsley. Choose a rainbow of yellow, orange, white, and purple carrots to make this dish even more pleasing to the eye and richer in different vitamins.
10. Beet and Turnip Gratin
Gratins and casseroles are commonly found on Thanksgiving tables, but this healthier version forgoes cream and cheese in favor of a purely vegetable-based dish. This beet and turnip gratin is seasoned simply with red onion, thyme, and fresh orange juice. It’s bright in flavor and rich in vitamins — the perfect healthy Thanksgiving side.
Related on EcoSalon
20 Quotes About Giving to Get You in the Thanksgiving Spirit
5 Adorable and Functional Thanksgiving Outfit Ideas: Friday Finds
15 (Mostly) Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes That Don’t Suck