Eat Empowered, Healthy Recipes

9 Thanksgiving Recipes That Give Classic Side Dishes a Healthy Makeover

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Prepping your Thanksgiving side dishes to complement that big, juicy turkey?

Before you add that heaping cup of sugar to the cranberries the way you do every November, consider this: We believe in enjoying the happy indulgences holidays present (like eating every bite of that slice of creamy, delicious pumpkin pie), but that doesn’t mean your meal always has to result in a paralyzing food coma.

Tweaking classic sides is one easy way to make the feast healthier without sacrificing traditional flavors or dishes altogether. It’ll also add creativity and excitement to your table, which your little brother’s foodie fiancé will totally appreciate.

Try one of these tasty recipes for a fresh, healthy menu this year. Thanksgiving side dishes, reimagined:

Mashed Butternut Squash

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Butternut squash offers all the fall flavor of sweet potatoes, but with none of the peeling and chopping. Just cut in half, throw in the oven, and—voila!—a healthy Thanksgiving side dish.

Spiced Cranberry Relish

Instead of a sugar bomb, this twist on cranberry sauce is light and tart, providing a counterbalance to the many heavy, warming foods on the table. It’s packed with antioxidants from the cranberries, and vitamin C is a natural stress-fighter, which will help when Uncle Joe starts talking politics. You’re welcome.

Sweet Potato Latkes

sweet potato cakes

Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamin C no matter how you make them, but these (baked!) latkes are especially unexpected and delicious, with cinnamon and nutmeg for a flavor- and antioxidant-boost.

Ginger Carrot Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is generally as nutritious as it is delicious, but add in ginger and you’re serving guests an immune-system strengthener that will help them get through cold and flu season without sniffling.

Protein-Packed Corn Muffins

Garbanzo bean flour, coconut oil, and unsweetened almond milk make these corn muffins the healthiest you’ve ever had. And they take less than half an hour to make.

Wild Rice and Bulgur Stuffing

This recipe trades the refined carbs that usually dominate stuffing for healthier grains like wild rice and bulgur, and the pecans provide some healthy fat and protein to prevent overeating other dishes.

Cranberry Roasted Root Vegetables 

fall vegetable dishes

Spices (cardamom and nutmeg) plus a dash of honey pretty much guarantee that these vegetables won’t get lost in the crowd. Carrots and parsnips never shined so brightly.

Garlic and Lemon Haricot Verts

Green bean casserole is one of the highest-calorie side dishes at any holiday feast. Instead of smothering the crispy, vitamin-rich veggies with cream of mushroom soup, add immune-boosting garlic, lemon, and sea salt.

Mini Pumpkin Pie Bites

Okay, this one isn’t exactly a side dish, but these treats are the perfect bite-sized addition to your dessert table. Flax seeds and chia seeds will help stabilize your blood sugar, and Greek yogurt offers a hit of protein you won’t find in other sweets.

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