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I Found Healthy Thanksgiving Dishes So You Don’t Have To

Thanksgiving is fastly approaching with all of its delicious comfort food and desserts. Despite the array of foods often displayed, not all of them are the most nutritious. Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to enjoy a guilt-free meal with their family, but for those who want to put a healthier option alongside the array of dishes, here are 12 healthy recipes I found on Pinterest that can help you do just that.

Vegetable Side Dishes:

Vegan Glazed Carrots

I am a firm believer that if you do not like vegetables, you are just cooking them wrong. For the longest time, I hated vegetables. I would force myself to eat one or two raw vegetables when they were presented as a veggie tray and hesitate when my parents served us vegetables microwaved in a bag. It was not until we started roasting and seasoning vegetables that I realized how good they could taste. For this dish, all you need is some carrots, tahini, lemon, maple syrup, and a handful of spices that are probably already in your spice cabinet. Then, follow the instructions from Ve Eat Cook Bake, and there you have it, the easiest side dish ever!

Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots

Are sweet vegetables not really your thing? Do you favor savory flavors? Try these garlic butter roasted carrots. With four simple ingredients of carrots, butter, garlic, and parsley, this is a cheaper and simpler option for a vegetable side dish. You can find the instructions here at The Busy Baker. If you do not want to use baby carrots, I prefer to use normal-sized carrots and chop them into slices.

Balsamic Green Beans and Tomatoes

Carrots not your jam? Here is a recipe for a dish of green beans and tomatoes. Not only does the contrast of the red tomatoes and green beans look appealing, but the recipe is also super simple. You only need green beans, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and parmesan (real or vegan). The instructions can be found here at Lavender And Macarons. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser even with picky eaters because if they are anything like me and don’t love tomatoes, they can just go for the beans.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts With Pecans and Cranberries

One of the best ways to change your eating habits and make them healthier is to eat for the season. By this I mean, eat the fruit and vegetables that are currently being harvested in season. This recipe does that perfectly by incorporating butternut squash, brussel sprouts, pecans, and cranberries. All staple Thanksgiving foods! The only other ingredients you need are maple syrup, olive oil, and a few spices you most likely have. Then, follow the recipe here at Julia’s Album. Once again, I would like to add if you are not roasting your vegetables, you are missing out.

Cheesy Root Vegetable Gratin

If you really want to impress your family with your cooking skills, this is the dish for you. Gratin is a French word that basically means a dish with a light brown bread crumb crust and melted cheese. This vegetable version requires a few more ingredients than the previous dishes, but the outcome is so worth it. You need butter, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, fresh thyme, garlic, gruyere cheese (hard, yellow swiss cheese), salt, and pepper. The step-by-step instructions with pictures are here at Spoon Fork Bacon. I hope that if you attempt this dish, you feel like a culinary legend after serving it at Thanksgiving.

Stuffing and Potatoes:

Cauliflower Stuffing

I love stuffing. At my Thanksgiving, there are always two types of stuffing served: my grandmother’s traditional New England style stuffing and Betty Crocker’s recipe for stuffing that my other grandmother makes. Which one do I prefer? The Betty Crocker version (don’t tell my grandmother!). But for those of you who want the only bread carb you consume at dinner to be a bread roll, here is a cauliflower alternative. The ingredients you need are a head of cauliflower, onion, celery, garlic, olive oil, poultry seasoning, thyme, sage, sea salt, black pepper, fresh parsley, and pecans. How to make this stuffing can be found at Wholesome Yum.

Quinoa Stuffing

Quinoa is a plant that is rich in protein, fiber, vitamin B, and minerals. It is a great option to turn into any salad or side dish. My aunt makes a quinoa salad every summer when she visits that is both delicious and nutritious. For this alternative stuffing recipe, you need quinoa, vegetable broth, butternut squash, a shallot, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, pecans, and once again, spices you probably have. The recipe can be found here at Simply Quinoa.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

Sweet potatoes, you either love them, or you hate them. I happen to be an avid lover of sweet potatoes and love finding a good recipe for them. My theory for people who do not like sweet potatoes is the same as my theory for people who do not like vegetables; you just haven’t cooked them right. This recipe screams fall and you only need sweet potatoes, butter, honey, milk (dairy or non-dairy), pecans, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and again the spices. Pictures of the recipe being made, as well as the instructions, are at Kristine’s Kitchen.

Mashed Cauliflower

When I was fourteen years old, I was having dinner at my grandparent’s house. My grandmother served us chicken with a side of “mashed potatoes.” The betrayal still haunts me when I think about the meal because she actually served mashed-up cauliflower pretending it was potatoes. I understand she was attempting to give us a healthier side, but my love for mashed potatoes and gravy runs deep. However, for those of you looking for a healthier alternative to the iconic Thanksgiving dish, this recipe is for you. You only need a head of cauliflower, olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. The recipe for this mashed potatoes imposter is at Detoxinista.


Pumpkin Pie Cups

There is one dessert that I crave as soon as the leaves start changing colors, and it is the wonderful pumpkin pie. Pumpkin is incredibly healthy for you (so stop the pumpkin flavor slander) because it is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So, a normal pumpkin pie should be considered a guilt-free dessert at the end of your Thanksgiving meal. However, being both cute and simple, this version makes the dessert even healthier by creating a healthier crust. All you need is almond flour, maple syrup, water, pumpkin puree, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie spice. The recipe can be found here at Feasting On Fruit and bonus points if you make your own pumpkin puree!

Healthy Homemade Apple Pie

Apple pie is another iconic pie that often appears for dessert after the big feast. This apple pie recipe from The Banana Diaries is the perfect option for any vegans or people trying to focus on being more plant-based. All you need is a flaky vegan pie crust (homemade or store-bought), apples, lemon juice, arrowroot powder, vanilla extract, vegan butter or coconut oil, dairy-free cream, maple syrup, raw sugar, and your spices. If you really want to impress your family members, try creating a cool fall design with the pie crust for an extra holiday effect.

No-Bake Pecan Pie Mini Tarts

The final flavor of the fall pie trifecta: Pecan Pie. Pecans are great for you because they contain protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These mini pecan pie tarts are even better because they are no-bake! That’s one less thing you have to worry about and you don’t need to fight for oven time on the day of the meal. The ingredients are almonds, quick-cooking oats, pecans, maple syrup, coconut oil, dates, water, vanilla extract, and spices. The recipe is at Evolving Table and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser after dinner.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Not a pie person? No problem, although I think you should give them another chance, these pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal cookies could be your healthy dessert solution. Plain oatmeal cookies are boring, but flavored oatmeal cookies are great. Plus, adding chocolate chips to anything is always a good idea. For this recipe at Amy’s Healthy Baking, you need instant oats, whole wheat or gluten-free flour, baking powder, coconut oil or butter, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, pure maple syrup, dark chocolate chips, and spices.

Happy baking!

Sydney is a sophomore at Penn State University majoring in Telecommunications with a minor in Information Sciences and Technology. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes, sports, and discovering new places to visit.
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