3 Healthy Thanksgiving Sides

All holiday celebrations are difficult to navigate when you’re trying to eat healthier, and Thanksgiving is no exception, especially the non healthy Thanksgiving sides. With the mountain of mashed potatoes, tons of turkey, and pies on pies on pies, the average Thanksgiving dinner packs in somewhere between 2,500 and 4,500 calories. EEK! But it doesn’t mean you have to give up eating your favorite foods! Celebrate a healthier Thanksgiving this year by altering your favorites with these delicious alternatives — without sacrificing taste. Who knows… you might find a new favorite amidst these 3 healthy Thanksgiving sides. 🙂

The Fresh Green Bean Casserolehealthy Thanksgiving sides

This version of Green Bean Casserole contains fresh green beans and other fresh ingredients. Fresh food equals less sodium!


2 ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup whole wheat or butter cracker crumbs (crushing in a bag works)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 oz button mushrooms (or your favorite variety), thinly sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 ½ cups milk 


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add green beans and boil for 3-5 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of doneness, then drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Prepare breadcrumbs in a large saucepan. Heat saucepan over medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter then add crackers. Stir until the crackers are lightly toasted. Set aside in a small bowl.
  4. In the same saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring until the flour is a light brown. Slowly add milk and continue to stir or whisk, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. Add the mushroom sauce to the green beans and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a pre-greased 2.5 quart baking dish. Sprinkle cracker crumb mixture on top. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or edges are brown and the center is bubbly. Serve warm.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Ricehealthy Thanksgiving sides

This dish is loaded with nutrients and packed with flavor. You won’t even miss the meat!


For the squash

2 acorn squashes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

For the stuffing

1 cup wild rice or another grain of your choice
1 onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
10-12 crimini or button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Goat cheese, for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut squashes in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Lightly coat the squash flesh with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put squashes on a baking sheet cut-side up and bake 45 minutes or until flesh is fork tender. Remove from oven.
  2. While the squash is baking, cook the rice or other grain as directed on the package. Set aside.
  3. Thinly slice the onion and sauté in a large frying pan with two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and dried thyme and stir occasionally until they soften and begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. While the onions cook, slice the mushrooms. Add them to the pan with the onions. Chop the garlic and add it to the pan. Let cook another 10-15 minutes, or until the mushrooms shrink down and release their liquid.
  5. Add the cooked rice to the pan along with the fresh parsley. Add more salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  6. Stuff each squash half with the rice and mushroom mixture and top with goat cheese. Serve as is or reheat in the oven for 10 minutes to lightly melt the goat cheese.

Spiced Orange Cranberry Saucehealthy Thanksgiving sides


1 organic orange
½ cup water
12 ounces fresh cranberries
5 Medjool dates, pitted and diced
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger


  1. Zest half the orange. Next, segment it by cutting off the top and bottom of the fruit then cutting away the peel and pith of the fruit. Slice in-between the segments to remove any of the white skin in the middle of the fruit.
  2. Add water to a medium saucepan and bring water to a boil. Add cranberries, dates, ginger, and segmented oranges. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, until sauce is reduced and thick. Stir in the orange zest and refrigerate until serving. Serve cold.

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed and a large part of that means sitting around the kitchen table eating treats and meals.  So don’t feel like you have to be left out because you are being healthy! Try one of thesse recipes and let me know your thoughts!  Do you have any healthy Thanksgiving sides for your favorite classic Thanksgiving dish? Be sure to share your recipe with me! I’m always looking for new recipes for my husband to make! Ha! 

P.S. If you are resisting all things healthy over the next few days and know you will need some help AFTER Thanksgiving, I am finalizing my 3 Day Cleanse group now! Shoot me a message at jessica@jessicabowsernelson.com for details and don’t worry, you still eat food…not pumpkin pie or anything, but healthy, delicious food nonetheless.

Digging Deeper,
Jessica Bowser Nelson

healthy Thanksgiving sides

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