Thanksgiving Dinner: Healthy Side Dishes


The turkey table can be a real challenge if you are watching your waistline. This harvest feast ranks in unnecessary calories through mindless snacking and miscellaneous extras. By simply cutting back and replacing traditional calorie-laden foods with healthy substitutes, you can enjoy your turkey and fixings guilt free. With a little pre-planning and commitment to moderation, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to sabotage your healthy lifestyle. Here are a few of my tips for staying fit and healthy without depriving yourself.


Roasted Root Veggies


4 Large onions
5 Large parsnips
5 Large carrots
2 Large zucchini
1 Medium butternut squash
2 Pink Lady apples
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 Tsp. star anise
1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
1 Tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
Dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Chop onions, parsnips, carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, and apples into 1″ thick chunks.

3. Transfer chopped vegetables and apples into a large roasting pan; drizzle with olive oil, add rosemary, cinnamon, star anise, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and pepper; gently toss to ensure even coating.

4. Bake for one hour or until onions are translucent and all vegetables and apples are tender.

Mushroom Macadamia Nut Stuffing


1 Lb. macadamia nuts
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. vegetable broth
3 Cups onions, chopped
2 Cups leeks, chopped
2 Cups baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
5 Slices whole grain bread, sliced into crouton-size pieces and toasted
1/2 Cup dried cranberries
1/2 Cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
1/2 Tsp. coriander


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. On a baking sheet, bake macadamia nuts and sesame seeds for 10 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant.

3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and vegetable broth until hot. Add onions and let cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add leeks and mushrooms.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine macadamia nuts, coriander, sunflower seeds, mushroom mixture, cranberries, raisins, and toasted bread cubes.

5. Stuff stuffing into the turkey or transfer to a casserole dish. If using as a turkey stuffing, bake according to turkey directions. If using as a casserole, bake for 30 minutes or until browned and completely cooked.

Pumpkin Orange Bread Pudding


12 Slices stale bread, crust removed and cut on the diagonal
2 Tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
1/3 Cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 Cup canned pumpkin
3 Cups milk
5 Eggs
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Tsp. honey
1/4 Tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
2 Tsp. ground flax seeds
1/4 Tsp. cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. all spice


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Create three layers of bread in an 8 x 8 baking pan sprayed with baking spray.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk orange zest, juice, ground flax seeds, pumpkin, honey, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, butter, cinnamon, all spice and salt; mix well. Pour over the bread layers and let sit for 45 minutes.

4. Bake for 1 hour or until top is browned and edges and middle are set.

5. Serve warm.

Amie Valpone, HHP, AADP is a culinary nutritionist and author of The Healthy Apple,