Thanksgiving is great time to get together with family and friends … AND EAT! This holiday is renown for over indulging and piling up the calories. But there are some recipes for side dishes out there that will let you still enjoy the meal without ruining your diet. Turkey prep isn’t discussed here (that could be a blog all by itself) but baking your turkey is obviously a healthier alternative to frying it. So here are some delicious and healthy Thanksgiving dishes to accompany the main course that can help keep you from going into a food coma.

Salad it’s smart to start with something a little greener to fit in those important nutrients and antioxidants.

Arugula Salad with Fennel, Apple, and Pecans

Vinaigrette makes 1 cup & Salad serves 2


  • Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salad
  • Arugula
  • 1 medium apple, quartered, core removed & sliced thin (I like Fuji or Gala)
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, sliced thing
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans



In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and whisk together. Let stand 10 minutes. Slowly whisk in olive oil.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.


Arrange a bed of arugula on each plate. Top with apple, fennel and pecans. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Soup Ring in the cooler weather with some nutritious, seasonal soup.

Curried Pumpkin Soup


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped*
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian)
  • 1 cup water
  • salt & ground pepper, to taste


Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, curry, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne; saute, stirring often, until onion is soft and fragrant.

Stir in apples, pumpkin, broth and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Puree soup in a food processor or a blender.

Either return soup to saucepan and heat on very low, or my what I prefer, let the soup heat in a crock pot on a warm/low setting for a couple hours.

Top with chopped fresh parsley.

SidesClassic side dishes are typically anything but healthy. However, taking out all the bad stuff by swapping in, well, less-than-bad stuff can let you still have some of your favorites.

Green Bean Casserole

Serves 8


  •  (2) 9-ounce bags frozen green beans (or second bag of a different veg)
  •   1 pint button mushrooms, sliced
  •   1 onion (half thinly sliced, half chopped)
  •   1 can healthier cream of mushroom soup (i.e. Campbell’s Healthy Request)
  •   3/4 cup 1 percent or skim milk
  •   Salt and Pepper
  •   Cooking spray
  •   2 tbs. Flour


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss sliced onions in mixture until well coated.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread the onion strips on the tray.  Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until crisp.

While the crispy onions are baking, sauté the chopped onion and mushrooms until just  soft. Combine in a casserole dish with the frozen veggies, soup, and milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes or until warmed through. Five minutes before it’s done, top with the baked onion strips.

Cauliflower Leek Puree – as a substitute for mashed potatoes


  • 1 large head (or 2 small) cauliflower, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large leek, dark green tops removed, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Handful parsley, chopped


 Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook 12 to 15 minutes, until soft.   Drain and set aside.

 While cauliflower is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan. Add leeks and garlic, and  cook for about 8 minutes, until softened, being careful not to burn garlic.

 Add cauliflower, leeks, garlic, and yogurt to a food processor and pulse until blended. (Or put ingredients in cauliflower pot and blend with an immersion blender.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. If mixture is too thick, add extra yogurt or 1 splash milk. Sprinkle with parsley.

Kale and Butternut Squash Stuffing


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (omit for vegetarian)
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into 1/2- inch cubes
  • 3 small leeks, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 loaf stale whole-wheat bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth for vegetarian)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two small or one large casserole dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

In a large pot, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage, if using. Cook until browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon.

Add butternut squash, leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook until leeks are soft, stirring occasionally. Add kale, cover, and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until wilted.

Add bread and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, and toss to distribute oil. Whisk egg and chicken broth together in a separate bowl, and then add to pot. Toss bread mixture around to coat and cook for about a minute, until liquid is absorbed.

Add stuffing to prepared casserole dish(es) and bake for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

Recipes courtesy of

Hopefully, these Thanksgiving dishes can help guide you to a healthier Thanksgiving meal and remember that too much of anything can be a bad thing. So, try to treat this like any other meal and don’t over indulge. The important thing, though, is enjoy the time with your family and friends. We wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday!

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