Healthy Thanksgiving sides can be delicious, so there’s really no need to “cheat” this holiday!
These healthy Thanksgiving sides are so good. While turkey no doubt has its place on the Thanksgiving table (and here are simple recipes for roasted turkey breast and roasted turkey legs), for many of us, Thanksgiving sides are the stars of the show.
No need for a cheat day
The good news for those trying to stick with a healthy diet through the holidays: there are many delicious and healthy options!
There’s no need to declare Thanksgiving a “cheat day” (which has the potential to turn disastrous). You can eat wonderful, comforting, and scrumptious side dishes that are also very healthy. Here are a few of my favorites.
How to define “Healthy” Thanksgiving sides?
This will obviously depend on a person’s dietary goals. To me, “healthy” generally means low sugar and low carb, not processed (ultra-processed foods are really bad for us!), and with absolutely no trans fats.
All the recipes here conform to this definition, with the notable exception of the corn casserole, which is not low-carb. I include it here because my kids love it. so I make it for the holiday.
But why not just cheat for one meal?
That’s certainly a valid option. Many of us can have one cheat meal, then go right back to healthy eating.
However, for many others, one cheat meal has the potential to turn into days, weeks, or even months of out-of-control eating.
You know yourself better than anyone else. Does “just a taste” of refined carbs sends you on a dangerous slippery slope of uncontrollable cravings? Or can you have “just a little?”
Are they really tasty?
I think they are! But I’ve been eating a low-carb diet for many years now. Perhaps my palate is different than yours.
No doubt, some healthy substitutions can be excellent, but not as good as the real thing. So mashed cauliflower, for example, is wonderful – but if you love potatoes, you will likely miss the starchy creaminess of mashed potatoes.
As I said before, you know yourself. Can you be satisfied with something that tastes great, but is not EXACTLY like the traditional foods you’re used to? Or must you have the real thing to feel truly satisfied?
8 Delicious and healthy Thanksgiving sides
So here you go! Eight amazing sides that are not just tasty but also good for you. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and I do.
1. Cauliflower Gratin
Sour cream, gruyere and parmesan turn the humble yet healthy cauliflower into a delicacy in this wonderful recipe for cauliflower gratin. While it’s not particularly low in calories, it is gluten-free and low carb.
2. Crustless Spinach Quiche
This crustless spinach quiche is low carb and gluten-free. It is very easy to make, and you can make it in advance, which is a big plus when it comes to Thanksgiving sides. I love to serve this healthy quiche instead of creamed spinach because it’s so much more presentable!
3. Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole
When it comes to healthy Thanksgiving sides, this spaghetti squash casserole is definitely one of my favorites. It has a unique, delicate flavor and a wonderfully creamy texture.
4. Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasted butternut squash – crispy and caramelized on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside – is the perfect lower carb alternative to potatoes or sweet potatoes. It makes a wonderful healthy Thanksgiving side dish. And like all winter squashes, this squash is very healthy.
5. Crustless Broccoli Quiche
Delicious, cheesy broccoli quiche is low carb and gluten-free. It’s very easy to make, and you can definitely make it in advance and reheat on Thanksgiving Day.
6. Mashed Cauliflower
Mashed cauliflower with butter, Parmesan and garlic tastes amazing. You truly won’t miss the mashed potatoes! And unlike mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower can be made in advance and reheated. And it’s obviously healthier!
7. Corn Casserole
If you don’t mind corn (and its carbs), try this flavorful, cheesy gluten-free corn casserole. The seasonings are incredible and give this corn casserole so much flavor.
8. Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Delicious, healthy and keto Brussels sprouts gratin is topped with shredded gruyere and pork rind panko, then baked until hot and bubbly. A good alternative is to make crispy, caramelized roasted Brussels sprouts.
I didn’t include the classic healthy Thanksgiving sides here because I already included them in this list of healthy Thanksgiving recipes.
Check it out for healthy versions for stuffing, green bean casserole, roasted brussels sprouts, loaded mashed cauliflower, broccoli casserole, and mashed pumpkin.
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