Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving food is traditionally full of butter, cream, carbs, unhealthy fats and loads of calories. While we can all admit that this food is downright delicious, it doesn’t typically accommodate those following special diets and, often times, those individuals miss out on most of the yummy Thanksgiving side dishes. To ensure everyone sitting around your table can partake in the feast, we put together a list of paleo, vegan, keto and gluten free side dishes and a pumpkin pie recipe that’s friendly for most dietary restrictions.


Paleo - Sweet Potato Casserole
Although there’s really no true substitute for brown sugar, there is a close second. This healthified Sweet Potato Casserole is made with unsweetened applesauce and coconut oil giving brown sugar and all of its sweet, molasses glory, a true run for its money. I’m not impressed often by “dupes”, but this one got me! Who knew sweet potatoes could be highlighted simply by the addition of some salt and spices? I was shocked at how little I missed my usual gobs of sugar proving the holidays really are a magical time.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp sea salt or to taste

  • Pinch of ground nutmeg

  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  • Extra salt and cinnamon for topping optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  2. Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven until soft (about 1-1.5 hours).

  3. Remove from oven, cut in half and let cool.

  4. Remove skins and set sweet potatoes aside.

  5. Set oven to 375 degrees F.

  6. Add applesauce and sweet potatoes to your blender and blend until smooth.

  7. Add melted coconut oil, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg and blend until combined.

  8. Transfer to a 9” baking dish and sprinkle the top with pecans and optional topping.

  9. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until potatoes begin to slightly bubble and topping is lightly browned.

  10. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Vegan (and gluten-free) Quinoa Mac & Cheese
Five ingredients plus 5 steps makes this Quinoa Vegan Mac & Cheese a perfect 10. Okay, so technically there’s 6 steps, but the last one is taking it out of the oven which is the best part, so it’s not even really a step!

I love this Vegan Mac & Cheese for all the standard reasons people love a mac & cheese bake. Not one thing is missing from this remix of a classic because there’s so much flavor loaded in just a few ingredients. The color (and extra nutritional delight) comes from butternut squash and it’s made with quinoa, providing tons of protein with fewer carbs and fat than your standard macaroni.

It’s simple, quick, and reheats great...because is it really even Thanksgiving with no delicious leftovers?

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash

  • 1/4 cup almond milk

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  • 4 cups cooked quinoa

  • 1 cup shredded vegan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. Peel and seed butternut squash. Chop into 1" chunks, add to a stock pot, cover with 1" of water and boil until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender.

  3. Add almond milk and nutritional yeast in a blender and blend on high until silky smooth and creamy. Add more milk as needed - texture should be thick, but easily pourable.

  4. Transfer to a bowl and add quinoa and cheese. Stir until combined.

  5. Transfer the quinoa mac and cheese into a baking dish, smoothing the top and sprinkle on additional cheese if desired. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until bubbly.

  6. Remove from oven, cool slightly and enjoy immediately.

 

Keto - Green Bean Casserole
Confession time: My family’s traditional green bean casserole has nearly 300 carbs...in the crispy onion topping alone!

Needless to say, when you’re in a lower carb phase, that usually means passing by great family classics with a longing look. Thankfully, this lightened up Keto Green Bean Casserole is rich and has ALL the crunchy toppings minus the extra carbs! With the full flavor and creamy richness of a classic green bean casserole, my favorite part might just be the list of additional toppings!

You can personalize these for your family’s preference while keeping it totally keto-approved. Did we mention it’s make ahead friendly?

Ingredients

  • 1 lb green beans

  • 1 tbsp butter or oil

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 oz cream cheese

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 tbsp almond flour

  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook green beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and onions, and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they are soft and most of their liquid has evaporated, about 7-8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.

  4. Add the cream, cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

  5. Add the green beans and stir to coat in the sauce. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

  6. Mix together the Parmesan, almond flour, and onion powder. Sprinkle on the casserole, and then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

 

Gluten Free - Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Warm Honey Glaze
Roasted Brussels in EVOO and salt is plenty good for an average dinner night, but your Thanksgiving taste buds might require a bit more oomph. Adding a drizzle of warm honey with a punch of vinegar and heat with this Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Warm Honey Glaze recipe is the perfect way to let your gluten free friends and their tummies know you’re extra thankful for them this year.

Ingredients

  • 1½ lb brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ tsp kosher salt, plus more

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • ¼ cup honey

  • ⅓ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

  • ¾ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal

  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Place a rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack of oven; preheat to 450°. Toss brussels sprouts and oil in a large bowl; season with salt and black pepper.

  2. Carefully remove the baking sheet from oven. Using tongs, arrange brussels cut side down on baking sheet. Roast brussels on bottom rack until softened and deeply browned, 20-25 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, bring honey to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until honey is a deep amber color but not burnt (it will be foamy, that’s okay), 3-4 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and add vinegar and red pepper flakes, if using, and whisk until sauce is smooth (it will bubble up quite aggressively when you add the vinegar before settling). Return saucepan to medium heat, add butter and ½ tsp. salt, and cook, whisking constantly, until glaze is glossy, bubbling, and slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes.

  5. Transfer brussels sprouts to a large bowl. Add glaze and scallions and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter and top with lemon zest.

 

Vegan, paleo, low-carb and gluten-free friendly - Pumpkin Pie
Now onto the star of the Thanksgiving meal, PIE! Can you believe this Vegan Pumpkin Pie checks off most of the above dietary restrictions, meaning it is safe for those that are gluten-free, vegan, paleo or following a low-carb diet! Don’t worry, even though this recipe is one of the healthiest pies you’ll ever eat, it is FULL of all the flavor you know and love from traditional pumpkin pie.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups roasted pumpkin

  • 1 cup coconut milk fat, from 2 cans

  • ⅓ cup coconut oil

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

  • ¼ tsp vanilla stevia

  • 1 tbsp of pumpkin pie spice

  • ⅛ tsp celtic sea salt

  • 1 pie crust

Instructions

  1. Place pumpkin on a plate and set aside.

  2. In a medium pot, melt coconut milk fat and coconut oil until liquified.

  3. Stir in pumpkin and maple syrup until mixture is very warm.

  4. Transfer mixture to a vitamix and puree on high speed until very smooth.

  5. Blend in vanilla stevia, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

  6. Transfer mixture into Nut-Free Egg-Free Pie Crust.

  7. Refrigerate for 2 hours to set.