3 Healthy Thanksgiving Sides
Thanksgiving is all about the Feast. My fondest childhood memories from Thanksgiving take place at my grandparent’s house Atlanta. Everyone gathered in the kitchen helping to prepare the meal while trying to keep one eye on the football game. To this day when I hear the CBS NFL jingle, it makes me think of Thanksgiving. Probably because the game was always on, and we would all laugh and give each other ‘penalties’ for ‘piling on’ as we’d heap food onto our plates.
The holidays are all about: celebrating with family and friends around the table with food and drink. I know for most of you, the holidays can be stressful especially when you are trying to maintain your weight. This holiday season, rather than worrying about gaining extra pounds from those decadent seasonal dishes, choose to eat healthy!
Fprgo recipes that include cream-based soups and other processed ingredients, and volunteer to bring dishes that are healthy, colorful, and sure to please everyone. I’ve outlined three tried-and-true recipes that are so tasty no one will even know you’re sneaking “healthy” food onto the Thanksgiving menu!
Green Bean Bundles
Green bean casserole is a staple. Although tasty, most are made with a store-bought condensed soup that is full of junk. Rather than hiding crisp, fresh green beans inside a casserole, wrap your beans in bacon for a mouthwatering side.
I like to use French beans (haricot verts). You don’t have to snap off the ends, they’re all the same length and width, and they’re easy to bundle quickly.
Take ½ of a piece of sugar free Pederson’s bacon and wrap it around green beans. Secure with toothpick. Bake at 350-degrees until bacon is golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes.
- 1 pound bag of haricot verts
- 1 package Pederson’s Sugar free bacon
Kale Salad with Warm Cranberry Vinaigrette
I found this recipe on Pinterest. I love the idea of adding some green roughage to my plate in the form of kale, and it looks beautiful alongside any festive, fall menu with colorful cranberries. Admittedly, I’ve tried many recipes on Pinterest that have flopped, but this one's a keeper.
First heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, then add garlic. Mix in cranberries, red wine vinegar, honey and lemon juice and zest. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
The original author of this recipe suggests massaging the kale with salt and olive oil before adding the dressing. I did follow this step, although I’m not sure it made much difference in the texture, as she notes.
Add cranberry shallot dressing to the kale and top with almonds. I omitted the goat cheese to save on calories.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Juice and zest of half a lemon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 1 bunch kale, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- (optional) 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese
Roasted Butternut Squash
If you’re looking for a low-glycemic alternative to mashed or sweet potatoes, try butternut squash. Another Pinterest find, this recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen is Whole30, Paleo, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, and altogether diet-friendly. You can even mash the squash, and my kids believe me when I tell them it’s applesauce!
I like to buy Central Market’s pre-cut squash because it’s ready-to-go. Peeling, seeding and cubing a squash can take some time and muscle.
Mix olive oil, 1 T balsamic vinegar and rosemary, and toss with cubes.
Arrange evenly on a baking sheet and roast at 400-degrees for 20 minutes, then flip and continue roasting an additional 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and toss with an additional 1 T balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. You can mash them at this point, or leave as cubes.
- 2 lbs. butternut squash cubes (about 6 cups)
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T + 1-2 tsp. best quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. very finely chopped fresh, or slightly less dried rosemary (be sure it’s especially finely chopped if you use dried rosemary)
- Sea salt to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Good luck adding some healthy sides to your Thanksgiving table this year. Your waistline will thank you!