Super Sides: 6 Healthy Recipes for Holiday Dinners

Super Sides: 6 Healthy Recipes for Holiday Dinners

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Trying to keep it healthy this holiday season? These six lightened up sides are perfect for Thanksgiving or any fall holiday gathering.

With the holiday season upon us, family potlucks with more food than you can fit on your dinner plateincluding an impressive spread of sides—are on their way. Luckily, for those of us trying to watch our waistlines, we’ve compiled a few healthy alternatives to the classics.  

1. Butternut Pecan Sweet Potato Mash

By Dana of Minimalist Baker 

With much less butter and sugar than a classic sweet potato casserole, this dish is a great alternative that is healthier, yet still feels indulgent enough for the holidays. The pecan topping not only adds texture to the dish, but also make a great replacement for the traditional marshmallows. And to top it off, the recipe takes just an hour to make.  

 

Ingredients:  

Squash & Sweet Potatoes: 

-3 large (or 6 small | ~ 1 lb. or 453 g) sweet potatoes, halved  

-6 cups (840 g) butternut squash 

-2 Tbsp. (30 ml) grape seed or melted coconut oil, divided 

-Pinch each sea salt + black pepper 

-Pinch ground cinnamon 

-1 Tbsp. (15 ml) maple syrup 

-1 Tbsp. (14 g) vegan butter 

 

Pecan Topping: 

-1 cup (100 g) pecans, roughly chopped 

-1 Tbsp. (15 ml) coconut oil 

-1 Tbsp. (12 g) coconut sugar 

-1 Tbsp. (15 ml) maple syrup 

-Pinch ground cinnamon 

-Pinch sea salt 

-Optional: 1 Tbsp. (14 g) vegan butter 

 

Visit Minimalist Baker for full recipe instructions.  

2. Spicy Thai Cabbage Salad

By Josh and Brent of Beekman 1802

With ginger honey, horseradish and apple cider vinegar joining in the shredded red cabbage party, this quick-prep side dish packs serious flavor along with what might just be the cure for the common cold.

And it must be said that Beekman 1802 has so many amazing recipes, it was truly hard to pick just one. This one won for color, audacious ingredients and exceedingly easy prep.

 

Ingredients:  

Shredded cabbage

-1 lb red cabbage, coarsely shredded (approx 5 cups)

-2 cups coarsely chopped basil

-1/3 cup finely diced cubano pepper

For Dressing

-2 tablespoons sesame seeds

-2 teaspoons sesame oil

-1/3 cup peanut butter

-5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

-1 tablespoon ginger honey

-2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

-3 tablespoon soy sauce

-1 teaspoon grated horseradish

-1/4 cup white wine

 

Visit Beekman 1802 for full recipe instructions

3. Easy Quinoa Stuffing

BAlyssa of Simply Quinoa  

For those with dietary restrictions or allergies, finding sides that work can be tough. Traditionally made with butter, turkey broth, and bread crumbs, stuffing isn’t the most vegan or celiac-friendly dish. Fortunately, there are some great quinoa adaptations like this one, which is gluten-free, dairy free, and vegan.  

Prep Time: 10 minutes 

Cook Time: 30 minutes 

Servings: 8-10 

 

Ingredients: 

– 2 cups tri-color quinoa 

– 4 cups vegetable broth 

– 6 cups finely diced sweet potato or butternut squash 

– 1 large shallot, diced 

– 3 garlic cloves, minced 

– 2 Tbsp. olive oil 

– 1 Tbsp. dried thyme 

– 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary 

– 2 tsp dried sage 

– 1 tsp ground cinnamon 

– 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)  

– 1 tsp salt and pepper 

– ½ cup chopped pecans 

– 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar  

– 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped 

– 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped  

– ½ cup dried cranberries (optional)  

– 1-2 finely chopped apples (optional)  

 

Visit Simply Quinoa for full recipe instructions.  

4. Roasted Broccoli with Pistachios and Pickled Raisins

BRich Landau of Cooking Light 

Pairing well with poultry, seafood, and red meat, broccoli is one veggie that never fails as a side dish. But when the holidays roll around, it can be fun to spice things up a bit. Instead of combining broccoli with heavy cream and cheese for a casserole, this recipe takes a lighter approach.  

 

Ingredients:  

– 3 pounds broccoli heads (approximately 6 medium heads), stems trimmed 

– 3 Tbsp. canola oil 

– 2 tsp minced fresh garlic 

– 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 

– ¾ tsp kosher salt 

– ¾ cup shelled unsalted pistachios 

– 1 cup white vinegar  

– ¾ cup golden raisins 

– ½ cup thinly sliced shallots 

– ½ cup water 

– 2 Tbsp. mustard seeds 

 

Visit Cooking Light for full recipe instructions.  

5. 15-Minute Homemade Orange Cranberry Sauce

By Monique of Ambitious Kitchen 

Native to North America, the cranberry is a natural shoo-in for holiday meals in the U.S. and Canada. However, with the advent of “wet harvesting” in the early 20th century, many cranberry products were relegated to the canned-goods section of the grocery store. Happily, with this naturally sweetened recipe, you can not only skip the can, but also add a fun, orange twist!

 

Ingredients: 

-1 pound fresh cranberries 

-1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 

-1/2 cup pure maple syrup 

-1 tsp vanilla extract 

-1 Tbsp. whiskey, bourbon or brandy 

-Zest of 1 orange 

 

Visit Ambitious Kitchen for full recipe instructions.  

6. Green Beans with Lemon-Almond Pesto

BKiersten of Oh My Veggies 

This final recipe is a zesty twist on Green Bean Amandine. Ditch the calorie-rich cream of a green bean casserole, and forget the hollandaise sauce, because this easy-to-make side dish packs plenty of flavor without the added calories. 

 

Ingredients: 

– 1 ½ lbs. green beans, trimmed 

– ½ cup almonds 

– 1 garlic clove 

– 1 Tbsp. lemon juice  

– 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 

– salt and pepper to taste 

 

Visit Oh My Veggies for full recipe instructions.  

 

Whether you’re preparing your dinners at home or heading to a potluck, there are plenty of options to help you stay healthy and happy this holiday season!  

Annelise Driscoll

Annelise is a graduate of Hamilton College who enjoys writing, reading and roller derby. When she isn't noveling, she can be found doing yoga and watching British baking shows.
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