12 Healthy and Unexpected Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Grandma’s buttery rolls, bread-bread-and-only-bread stuffing, Campbell’s-sponsored green bean casserole and can-shaped cranberry sauce. These Thanksgiving side dishes may be traditional and comforting, but no one would argue they’re healthy.

If you’re brave enough to try and convert your only-tan-foods-on-my-plate relatives to the wonders of a healthy and diverse palate, these 12 side dishes are just the ticket to a fresh, healthy and delicious Thanksgiving menu.

Honeyed Yogurt & Salted Pepitas Sweet Potatoes


Skip the marshmallow topping and let the tubers take center stage with this recipe for Honeyed Yogurt & Salted Pepitas Sweet Potatoes.

The sweetness of the potatoes and honey, the tang of the yogurt and the salt from the pepitas all combine to make one delicious alternative to sweet potato casserole.

Squash and Oyster Stuffing


There’s nothing wrong with bread stuffing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. This Squash and Oyster Stuffing calls on (you guessed it) oysters and squash, as well as garlic and herbs to make a healthier take on a traditional side dish.

Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffed Butternut Squash


Butternut squash is delicious on its own, baked with a light dose of oil, pepper and salt. But as the base of Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffed Butternut Squash, complete with a one-two punch of parmesan and garlic? It’s a whole new level of yum.

Twice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle


While plenty of people enjoy the sugar-on-sugar-on-sugary-sweet combinations, others crave the combination of contrasting flavors. These Twice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle give a healthy kick of heat to offset the sweetness of the potato.

Quinoa Stuffing


One quick way to spot the difference between a healthy dish and a less-than-healthy one? Color palette. A homogenous mass of browns and tans? Not so healthy. A vibrant rainbow glowing from a mix of healthy, natural ingredients? Healthy AND pretty freakin’ delicious.

Quinoa Stuffing is simple and easy to make, but looks and tastes like a gourmet masterpiece. Bonus: it won’t make you feel as guilty about going up for thirds.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower


Here’s a little holiday math: this dish takes barely half an hour to make, and 95% or more of that time is bake time. Sound easy? It really, really is.

Cauliflower can get a bad rap as a boring veggie, but Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower is toasty and sweetly cheesy. A total Thanksgiving slam dunk!

Brussels Sprouts With Bacon, Avocado and Lime


Even the most skeptical relative will relish these Brussels Sprouts With Bacon, Avocado and Lime. The creamy avocado, zesty lime and the, well, bacony bacon combine to make the Brussels sprouts into the belle of the ball.

Worried about too much fat from the bacon drippings? Instead of cooking with the drippings, wipe out the pan and cook the sprouts in a little olive oil instead for the same delicious dish with less fat.

Balsamic Asparagus With Feta Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Toasted Walnuts


Balsamic Asparagus With Feta Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Toasted Walnuts: is there any part of this phrase that doesn’t sound delicious?

While blanching the asparagus is all well and good, you can kick the flavor up a notch or twenty by tossing them in a mix of oil from the tomatoes and balsamic, sprinkling with salt and pepper and roasting for 10 minutes (at 400) instead.

Cranberry Sauce With Lime and Ginger


Apologies to anyone who waits all year to hear the plop of cranberry sauce sliding, perfectly cylindrically, out of the can. This Cranberry Sauce With Lime and Ginger recipe will send those cans to the back of the shelf.

Sugar and maple syrup help keep things just sweet enough, while lime and ginger add pops of flavor that canned sauce can only dream of.

World’s Easiest Garlicky Green Beans Stir Fry


The simplest dishes are often the best — just ask the World’s Easiest Garlicky Green Beans Stir Fry. The name may be long, but the ingredient list is short, the directions simple and the end result delectable.

Healthy Green Bean Casserole


Satisfy your family’s need for green bean casserole by forgoing the don’t-want-to-consider-them-too-closely canned ingredients and making this Healthy Green Bean Casserole instead.

Despite the healthy label, this dish still hits all the right notes, giving you the sensory joy of the original with only half the guilt.

Persimmon Pomegranate Fruit Salad


This isn’t your grandmother’s fruit salad, and that’s a good thing!

Say goodbye to syrupy, soggy fruit salads and hello to a fresh take on a fruit side with this Persimmon Pomegranate Fruit Salad. The dressing of mint, lemon and honey makes for a refreshing alternative to syrupy canned fruit juice.

Shake things up, treat yourself and wow your fellow diners all at once by bringing one of these healthy, gorgeous, delicious dishes to this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. But beware — the guests may love it so much, you may find yourself asked to bring even more next year.

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  • Reply Kim Manwarren November 19, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Perfect timing girl! I’m going shopping today for my Thanksgiving day feast and I will be using a couple of your recipes. A great big thanks! 😉

    • Reply Jennifer November 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Fabulous!! So glad to hear it, Kim!! I know those sweet potatoes with honey yogurt and pepitas will be gracing my Thanksgiving table this year and I am PUMPED!! Thanks so much for stopping by. ^_^

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