It’s always a coin toss for me between Thanksgiving and Christmas as to what my favorite holiday is. I love both so much it’s always tough to choose one over the other. Both bring families together, and it allows all of us to be grateful for the ones around us. Plus there’s always so much fantastic food!

In fact, I know a lot of you use these two holidays as your “cheat day” in your eating habits. I do it too! We all should enjoy Thanksgiving, and food is definitely a part of it!

You may be surprised to find that turkey is an extremely healthy food, in fact as far as a protein it is one of the healthiest! In a 4 oz. serving of turkey there is about 32 grams of protein and is a great source of amino acids. Just one serving of turkey provides 65% of your recommended daily intake of protein! Turkey also contains selenium, which is essential for the healthy function of thyroid and immune system. Selenium also has an essential role to play in your antioxidant defense system. Add to the fact that a serving of turkey meat has 36 percent of the daily allowance of B3 and 27 percent of your recommended intake of B6. This all adds up to one extremely healthy and delicious bird!

But you’re probably asking now, “that’s all great but what about other healthy Thanksgiving foods?” Don’t worry I’ve compiled some great recipes below for some delicious side dishes that will make sure you will still eat healthy Thanksgiving food while still enjoying everything the holiday has to offer.

Healthy Thanksgiving Foods

Beet-and-Apple Salad
Ingredients:

  • 4 large beets (2 ½ pounds)
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/3 cup salted pistachios, chopped
  • 1 green apple, thinly sliced

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a baking dish, lightly drizzle the beets and thyme with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast until the beets are tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Let cool, then peel the beets and cut them into 3/4-inch dice.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until emulsified. Add the horseradish and season with salt and pepper; toss with the beets and pistachios. Transfer the beets to a platter, top with the apple and serve.

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 2 ¼ cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal, plus more for dusting
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Scant 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mild honey

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. With a fork, pierce the sweet potatoes all over and set them directly on the oven rack. Bake the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, or until they are tender; let cool slightly. Slit the skins and scoop the potatoes into a large bowl. Mash until smooth. You should have 1 1/4 cups of mashed sweet potatoes. Increase the oven temperature to 425°.

2. Meanwhile, lightly butter a shallow 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish and dust it with cornmeal, tapping out any excess. In another large bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the sugar, salt and baking soda. Melt the butter in the boiling water, then stir the butter-and-water mixture into the dry ingredients. Let cool slightly.

3.Using an electric mixer, beat the buttermilk, honey, cumin, white pepper, cloves and cayenne into the mashed sweet potatoes until combined. At medium speed, beat in the cornmeal mixture.

4. In a clean stainless steel bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the beaten egg whites into the sweet-potato mixture until no white streaks remain. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden and risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve the sweet potato spoon bread warm or at room temperature.
The best part of this recipe is the spoon bread can be made early in the day, wrapped in foil and reheated in a 350° oven.

Broccoli, Shiitake and Red Onion Roast
Ingredients:

  • One 1 ¼ pound head of broccoli
  • ½ pound large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded
  • 1 small red onion, sliced crosswise 1/3 inch thick
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Trim and peel the broccoli stems. Cut the broccoli lengthwise into long stalks, with 1 or 2 florets each. Cut any remaining florets into 2-inch pieces. Spread the broccoli on a large, rimmed baking sheet. On another large, rimmed baking sheet, put the shiitake on one side and the onion slices on the other. Generously brush all the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 20 minutes, until just tender and lightly browned. Transfer the broccoli to a platter. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the mushrooms and onion rings and stir to coat the vegetables. Top the broccoli with the shiitake and onion and serve.

Healthy Potato Gratin with Herbs
Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the cake pan
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chopped thyme
  • ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds medium red potatoes, very thinly sliced
  • Salt & Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400° and oil an 8-inch round cake pan, preferably of dark metal. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and oil the paper.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the thyme and rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes.

3. Arrange an overlapping layer of potato slices in the cake pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper and spoon a small amount of the reduced broth on top. Repeat the layering with the remaining potatoes and reduced broth, seasoning each layer lightly. Pour any remaining broth on top. Cover the pan with a sheet of oiled parchment paper and then a sheet of foil.

4. Bake the gratin in the center of the oven until the potatoes are very tender, about 1 hour. Remove the foil and paper and bake until the top is dry, about 10 minutes longer.

5. Turn the broiler on. Remove the gratin from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Invert the gratin onto a heatproof plate. Carefully remove the parchment round. Broil the gratin 6 inches from the heat until the surface is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced (1 ½ cups)
  • 2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

Directions:

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the brussels sprouts until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut the brussels sprouts in half lengthwise.

2. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until lightly browned, 10 minutes; scrape into a bowl.

3. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil to the skillet. Add the brussel sprouts, cut side down, and the pancetta. Season with salt and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are browned and tender, 10 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and shallots and cook, stirring, until warm, 5 minutes. Season with salt, transfer to a bowl and serve.

These are some of the healthy thanksgiving foods I prepare every year. The best part of all of these side dishes is they’re just as wonderful anytime throughout the year not just on the holidays!
I want to wish you and your family a wonderful thanksgiving. Enjoy all the food and fellowship that comes along with it!

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