Healthy Recipe Makeovers of Your Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes

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healthy thanksgiving side dishes

Thanksgiving can be a time of family bonding and feelings of gratitude. It can also be a time of expanding waistlines and feelings of indigestion. If you want to avoid some of the rich, calorie-laden foods that trigger overeating and weight gain, check out these healthier cousins of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. Who says you have to start your New Year’s Resolutions on January 1?

Dairy-Free, Fat-Free Mashed Potatoes

Let’s start out with a traditional staple for the Thanksgiving spread—taters. Lest you think that all good potatoes must be swimming in cream and butter, the website www.dontmissdairy.com has provided a delicious, dairy-free alternative. Utilizing fresh chives and chicken stock as its two secret ingredients, these spuds are full of flavor, but not full of fat!

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Vegan Mushroom Gravy

vegan mushroom gravy
image via Stacy Homemaker

Before you get turned off by the word “vegan,” pause to consider how this flavorful recipe with veggies, mushrooms and vegan worcestershire sauce could compliment your mashed potatoes without all the added calories of a typical gravy.

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

healthy green bean casserole
Image via Ambitious Kitchen

Let’s see…soggy canned green beans and processed deep-fried onions or fresh, crisp green beans and real onions you sliced yourself. There’s an obvious winner here. Yes, it’s your typical green bean casserole—kind of. By subbing the canned cream of mushroom soup for an (obviously superior) parmesan gravy and the cream for chicken broth, Ambitious Kitchen has taken this beloved Thanksgiving dish to a new, even more delicious, level.

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Simple Fall Green Salad

fall salad
Image via Kitchen Treaty

Come on, people, it’s time to let go of the iceberg! Embrace real greens by serving this salad garnished with pecans and apples, then drizzled with a maple-syrup sweetened apple cider vinaigrette. The perfect light accompaniment to your other heavy Thanksgiving fare.

Healthy, Homemade Jello

sugar free jello homemade
Image via One Lovely Life

You never really liked the shredded cheese-filled jello ring that Aunt Bertha brought anyway. Now’s the time to get rid of artificial flavors and colors and try fruit-juice sweetened gelatin. You could even go out on a limb and add some *fresh* berries for an added health benefit!

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Low-Carb, Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

healthy cranberry sauce
image via Wholesome Yum

This healthy, sugar-free, gluten-free cranberry sauce recipe requires just 4 ingredients. Made with fresh cranberries and no sugar, it’s also low carb. Perfect for those in the family who are going the “paleo diet” route.

Simple Vegan Stuffing

vegan stuffing
image via Minimalist Baker

Again, don’t get turned off by the word “vegan!” Made with whole grain bread, lentils, veggie broth, and fresh veggies, this stuffing version HAS TO be better than your good old stove-top standby. Give it a try this year and expect rave reviews!

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Vegan and Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole

healthy sweet potato casserole
image via Happy Healthy Mama

This is many a family’s favorite side dish at Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t have to offer the calories and sugar content of a dessert with this remade recipe. With sweeteners such as maple syrup and orange juice, as well as the dairy substitute of coconut milk, this casserole not only looks amazing, but will also taste divine!

Healthy Pumpkin Pie

healthy pumpkin pie
via Chocolate Covered Katie

Technically this is a dessert, not a side dish, but I didn’t want you to do so well eating healthy for the dinner portion and then go and ruin it with your dessert choices. So here’s an alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie. This one is sweetened with coconut sugar and stevia and has a lower-calorie crust made of rolled oats and flax.

Here’s to a happy, HEALTHY Thanksgiving and many more to come! (I mean, eating this way, you are sure to have many, MANY more to come!)

Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving recipes that are on the healthier side of the spectrum? If so, be sure to share in the comments below!

Jasmine has degrees in Spanish and International Relations from BYU and has always had a love for writing ever since she penned her first haiku at age 9. She and her husband, Shawn, are the the parents of 8 children, who keep her very busy when she is not writing for Third Hour.