13 Healthy and Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes

If you are watching what you eat during the holidays, it can be a difficult to avoid meals that are loaded with sugars, starches, and saturated fats. Sure, you really want those candied yams loaded with brown sugar and marshmallows, or your mother’s buttery mashed potatoes topped with savory gravy, and a huge fluffy dinner roll to mop up your plate. But you also don’t want to spike your insulin and start a whole new round of sugar craving that put you right back to square one of breaking your sugar addiction and  losing the weight you had just lost months previously.

Yes, I know I am not painting a pretty picture. I hope I got your attention because my goal here is to point out that:

  1. Food addictions are real: And food addictions are pernicious, meaning that just when you think you have them beat, they sneak back up on you. That goes the heart of what makes up an addiction.
  2. All that food sounds good, at first: Yes, you really will want all that sugar, and starch, and fat. You REALLY REALLY will want it. And you will reason out with yourself, “What’s the harm in just a little bit?”, or you will say to yourself, “Moderation is the key, and I can manage just a small piece.” This is the time you must be honest with yourself. Can you really moderate yourself? Do you really need to give into the temptations and erase all the hard work you have done to this point? The food will feel right when you eat it, and you will feel awful 15 minutes later. Discipline, discipline, discipline.

I know, you are thinking, “But we have all of these food traditions in my family. How am we to have Thanksgiving without potatoes, stuffing, bread, and sweet desserts?” If you are feeling that you are stuck food traditions for Thanksgiving, then consider why it is we have a Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is about people coming together, whether as a family unit or a community at large, and giving thanks for the blessings in their lives, and offering a prayer for further blessings. Thanksgiving is not about food. Food is a feature, but it is not the reason for the holiday.   

Another way to look at food traditions is this; If Thanksgiving was only about food, we would likely be eating far more wild game during the celebration, just like the Pilgrims did. But we don’t, because traditions change. And you can change, too.

Giving Thanks: The Reason For Thanksgiving

How about some good news? (Oh course! Please!)

The folks at Cooking Light have put together several Thanksgiving side dishes that use many of the traditional holiday meal elements, but they are prepared in a manner that should easily complement the hard work you’ve taken to manage your diet and your weight. The complete list of 110 recipes is here: https://www.cookinglight.com/thanksgiving/best-thanksgiving-side-dish-recipes

I have combed through the list and found the recipes that I believe eliminate unwanted sugars and starches. They are also bright with color and flavor. Any of these side dishes should be a beautiful complement to your Thanksgiving turkey.  Bon Appetit!


These are not your average run of the mill wilted iceberg lettuce and tomato salad. Instead, there are a variety to colorful dishes that bright, light, savory, fruity, and just DELICIOUS!

Radicchio, Frisee, Apple, and Manchego Salad. Photos by My Recipe.com

Radicchio, Frisée, Apple, and Manchego Salad: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/radicchio-frisee-apple-manchego-salad

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/shaved-brussels-sprouts-salad-0

Grapefruit, Endive, and Arugula Salad: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/grapefruit-endive-arugula-salad

Make This Green Bean Salad For Any Special Occasion: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/green-bean-salad

 Kale, Jicama, and Orange Salad: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/kale-jicama-orange-salad

Lemony White Bean-and-Arugula Salad: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/lemony-white-bean-and-arugula-salad

Roasted Red and Golden Beet Salad: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-red-golden-beet-salad

Roasted Red and Golden Beet Salad. Photographer: Romulo Yanes Food Stylist: Marian Cooper Cairns Prop Stylist: Claire Spollen


Pan roasting vegetables is a great was to keep the vitamin and minerals that are lost in boiling vegetables. While eliminating fats and sugars that are used in other processes like baking. Nearly any vegetable can be roasted, and the seasoning flavors are as endless as your imagination and spice rack. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different flavors. Below are some examples of roasted flavors you may not have considered, but they sound outstanding.

Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/sheet-pan-roasted-vegetables

Orange-Tarragon Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/orange-tarragon-sheet-pan-roasted-vegetables

Lemon-Herb Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/lemon-herb-sheet-pan-roasted-vegetables

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/whole-roasted-cauliflower-pomegranate-pine-nuts


Braised Brussels Sprouts with Cider and Bacon. Photo by My Recipes.com

Who says that stuffing must primarily made of bread? This warm pancetta, kale, and raisin stuffing breaks with tradition with a smoky, salty, bitter, and sweet stuffing that you will not mind having a second helping of later. And if pancetta is difficult to buy in your area, bacon is good substitute.

Pancetta, Kale, and Raisin Stuffing: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/pancetta-kale-and-raisin-stuffing

Are you tired of Thanksgiving vegetables being overcooked and then being smothered in some cream of soup sauce (ugh!).  I know I am. Green bean casserole? Get away from me, Satan! Check out the below recipe that delivers big flavor and all the nutritional goodness that you want.  

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Cider and Bacon: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/braised-brussels-sprouts-cider-bacon

Let us know if you enjoyed these recipes. Leave a comment below as we enjoy hearing from you.