When it comes to Thanksgiving, the focus of the meal is not only on the turkey, but often the once-a-year comforting side dishes as well. The variety of sides pack in tons of flavor, helping to round out the meal.
Side dishes can be tasty and nutritious. They often star a nutrient-dense ingredient (think green beans or sweet potatoes). Traditional recipes, however, often call for an excess of cream, butter, sugar, etc. This can make the dish extra rich. It also means it’s probably higher in added sugar, saturated fat and calories.
The good news is you can still enjoy your Thanksgiving sides without overdoing it. Here are six of our favorite side dishes, all with a healthier twist.
Garlic Green Beans
Move over, green bean casserole. Skip the fried onions and creamy soup and enjoy these garlic-flavored green beans instead.
Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 5 min Cook: 10 min
4 cups fresh or frozen green beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sauté together for 5-10 minutes and serve.
Serving size: About ¾ cup
Calories: 76; Total fat: 5 g; Saturated fat: 1 g; Sodium: 7 mg; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Total carbohydrates: 8 g; Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 2 g; Protein: 2 g; Potassium: 236 mg
“Candied” Sweet Potato
Sweet potato casserole and candied yams typically use cups of sugar plus marshmallows. Try this lightly sweetened sweet potato this year instead.
Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 5 min
2 small cooked sweet potatoes, baked or microwaved
2 tsp honey
½ tsp cinnamon
Top sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon.
Serving Size: 1 potato
Calories: 180; Total fat: 0 g; Saturated fat: 0 g; Sodium: 11 mg; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Total carbohydrates: 44 g; Fiber: 6 g; Sugars: 6 g; Protein: 2 g; Potassium: 917 mg
Whole Grain Stuffing
Give one of your favorite sides a healthy twist by making simple swaps. Whole grain bread and low-sodium chicken broth are simple swaps you can make. This dish also uses less butter than traditional recipes.
Makes: 10 servings
Prep: 45 min Cook: 55 min
12 oz day-old whole grain bread, cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh sage
¾ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
2½ cups sodium-free chicken broth (can use vegetable broth to keep vegetarian)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet, arranged in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring halfway through. Transfer bread to a bowl and set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Sauté vegetables for 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove pan from heat. Add parsley, sage, pepper and salt and stir. Add vegetable mixture to bowl with bread and toss to combine.
In another bowl, add broth, butter and eggs and whisk. Drizzle over bread cubes and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add bread cubes to a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, or until browned.
Serving size: 2/3 cup
Calories: 210; Total fat: 9 g; Saturated fat: 3 g; Sodium: 508 mg; Cholesterol: 46 mg; Total carbohydrates: 22 g; Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 3 g; Protein: 10 g; Potassium: 222 mg
Arugula Salad With Fig & Goat Cheese
Many of us eat extra light the day of Thanksgiving so we can indulge in the big meal. But coming to the table hungry can lead to overeating, which can take away from the pleasure you enjoyed during the meal. Starting with a small salad can help keep you from feeling that way. You’ll be able to enjoy your meal without leaving the table feeling stuffed.
Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 5 min
8 cups arugula
8 dried figs, chopped
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup canned Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Toss all ingredients and serve.
Serving size: 3 cups
Calories: 262; Total fat: 10 g; Saturated fat: 4 g; Sodium: 67 mg; Cholesterol: 15 mg; Total carbohydrates: 35 g; Fiber: 7 g; Sugars: 20 g; Protein: 11 g; Potassium: 691 mg
Follow your salad with a healthy cup of butternut squash or lentil soup.
Makes: 1 serving
Prep: 5 min Cook: 5 min
1½ cups canned reduced-sodium butternut squash or lentil soup
Heat butternut squash or lentil soup.
Calories: 153; Total fat: 4 g; Saturated fat: 0 g; Sodium: 436 mg; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Total carbohydrates: 30 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 6 g; Protein: 3 g; Potassium: 11 mg
These mashed potatoes swap butter for olive oil and are dairy-free. Using less of the olive oil also helps keep the calorie and fat content down.
Makes: 6 serving
Prep: 5 min Cook: 25 min
2 lb cubed Yukon Gold potatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp salt, divided
⅛ tsp black pepper
Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook 20 minutes, or until very tender; drain. Cool, uncovered, 5 minutes. Return potatoes to pan, adding olive oil, ¾ tsp salt and pepper; mash to desired consistency. Keep warm.
Serving Size: About 2/3 cup
Calories: 162; Total fat: 7 g; Saturated fat: 1 g; Sodium: 388 mg; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Total carbohydrates: 27 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 3 g; Protein: 4 g; Potassium: 394 mg