Fresh Thanksgiving Sides

Thanksgiving is so soon! I can’t wait because Thanksgiving is my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E holiday of all time. A day focused on family, love, gratefulness, traditions, football, and best of all, FOOD!

I usually spend the day before Thanksgiving cooking and prepping with my mom, decorating the table, and getting ready for a day full of deliciousness. We usually rely on easy, make-ahead side dishes to minimize the amount of work on the actual day.

Now, the only reason I eat turkey is for the sides – who’s with me?? Mashed potatoes, stuffing, and casseroles – YUM! But Thanksgiving is known for that full feeling that causes your Uncle Henry to fall asleep at the table and everyone to change into their sweatpants before dessert. So today, I’m sharing some delicious and dietitian approved Thanksgiving sides with a fresh twist – to fill you up (and not fill you with guilt).

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed cauliflower made with vegetable stock provides an earthy taste with a similar texture to mashed potatoes (but a fraction of the calories). The recipe is straightforward and can be made the day before!


- 1 large head of cauliflower
- 3.5 cups of vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp. of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste


Chop the cauliflower into small florets. Sauté the florets with olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven for 15 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cook until cauliflower is fork tender (about 10 minutes). Save about ½ cup of the cooking liquid prior to draining. Drain and place the cauliflower back into the pot. Use an immersion blender to combine. Add cooking liquid to desired texture. Flavor with salt and pepper.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Chickpeas

Roasted vegetables are an easy, nutritious, make-ahead side dish. With Brussels sprouts being my favorite – I had to include them in this list!


- 1 lb of Brussels sprouts
- 2 cans of chickpeas
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic powder


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Chop the ends off of the sprouts and cut them into quarters. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, patting them dry between two kitchen towels. Place sprouts and chickpeas into a bowl and add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix well and place on a sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes.

Whole Wheat Stuffing

This stuffing recipe tastes like the classic but a higher vegetable to bread ratio and swapping out the white bread for 100% whole wheat makes it a healthier alternative!


- 6 slices of good quality whole wheat bread
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 3 cups mushrooms, diced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- ¾ c. dried cranberries


- 1 tbsp. poultry seasoning
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. pepper
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. rosemary
- 1 tsp. thyme


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the slices of whole wheat bread into 1 cm cubes and place on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake the cubes for 12 minutes to dry them out and set aside. Combine the seasoning in a small bowl and set aside. Sauté onions, celery, and mushrooms with olive oil in a large pot until softened. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the cubed bread, pecans, dried cranberries, and 1.5 tbsp. of the seasoning (there will be extra). Mix well. Taste test and add more seasoning to your liking. Place in an oven safe dish and bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown and toasted.

Citrus Honey Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is known for being high in sugar. Honey adds more flavor (so less sugar is needed), which will cut the tartness of the cranberries but still provide that traditional taste.


- 6 oz. of cranberries
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. good quality honey
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice (juice from half an orange)
- Zest from 1 whole orange


Combine cranberries, water, zest, and orange juice. Bring to a boil and add the sugar and honey. Stir until well mixed and simmer until reduced (about 10 minutes).

Hope you all have a delicious Thanksgiving!

- Jessica