3 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes to Lighten up Your Spread

BySher Warkentin in Healthy Feeling

Thanksgiving kicks off a season of constantly eating, but it doesn’t mean you have to overindulge. You can create a tasty, well-balanced mix by adding some healthy Thanksgiving side dishes to the table with traditional recipes. Here are a few simple vegetarian side dishes to trim the fat on your holiday meals.

Roasted Brown Butter Sweet Potatoes

Brown butter sounds like a fancy sauce, but the truth is it’s just a simple butter reduction that creates a nutty flavor. It’s perfect for accenting the smoky flavors of roasted root vegetables, like the Thanksgiving staple sweet potato. Instead of loading down your sweet potatoes with heavy creams and marshmallows, this simple sauce gives you all the flavor you desire.

To get started, you need:

  • 4 to 6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp. butter

Toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper until coated evenly. Spread the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Roast in the oven at 400° Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. While the potatoes are roasting, melt the butter in a saucepan. Cut the butter into slices, and place on medium heat. Stir frequently as the butter melts and begins to brown. Once it develops a nutty aroma, it’s ready. A light colored pan will help you keep an eye on the color of the butter to make sure it doesn’t burn. Drizzle the sauce on the potatoes before serving.

Spinach and Apple Salad With Candied Pecans

Pecans and apples are usually featured in sugar-loaded desserts at Thanksgiving, but with this healthy salad recipe you can still enjoy these flavors as a lighter side dish.
A salad is a light and healthy option.

Your ingredients are:

  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. water
  • ⅛ tsp. vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • 1 apple (Granny Smith or Fuji work best)
  • 1 package baby spinach, fresh
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Balsamic vinaigrette

In a bowl combine and stir the sugar, water, vanilla, and salt. Toast the pecans in a pan over medium heat for two minutes. Add the mixture, and stir frequently until all the pecans are coated. Remove from heat, and spread on a towel to cool. Cut the apple into thin slices or slivers. Then combine all the ingredients (besides the dressing) into a large bowl and toss. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette.

Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry sauce is a staple of Thanksgiving Day, but that gelatinous substance that comes out of a can isn’t exactly the most natural item on the table. For a fun twist on this traditional dish, go a different route with a vegan cranberry chutney instead.

To begin, gather:

  • 1 12 oz. package cranberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan, and simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally until cranberries are softened and popped open, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in covered container, and chill in the fridge overnight. The chutney will keep in the fridge for one week, so you can make it in advance.

Lighten things up with fresh cranberries instead of the canned version.

While traditional favorites are always a tasty part of holiday dinners, it’s also fun to create new traditions with healthier Thanksgiving side dishes.

Tweet pics of your own Thanksgiving concoctions to @TomsofMaine.

Image sources: Sher Warkentin | Flickr

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

You don't have to get rid of all the traditional holiday dishes you love, but you can try some healthier options to combat this season of indulgence. These lighter recipes are perfect to add to the mix. Make your dinner table healthier (and more unique!) with these vegetarian Thanksgiving side dishes.