ONE WEEK!!!! One week until we get to put on our stretchy pants and eat all day long. This is that time of year moderation kind of goes out the window. So if portion control goes, make sure your favorite Thanksgiving sides are as healthy as they can be! Here’s a compilation of some great healthy, clean twists on classic Thanksgiving sides! Hopefully this is just in time for any Friendsgivings or any other pre-Thanksgiving festivities you might have!
Personally, I love cranberry sauce. But as I’ve grown more aware of canned foods, I’ve tried to avoid them whenever I can. When I looked at the label for the jellied cranberry sauce, it contains 9g of sugar and -1g of dietary fiber (I’ve never seen a negative number on a nutrition label…) and the ingredients simply contain cranberries, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and water. It’s not particularly the best version you could be consuming. Last year, I found a super easy, super good recipe for a homemade cranberry sauce (via Simply Recipes)! A perk to making this recipe for yourself is that you’ll get fiber from the whole cranberries, no sodium, and you can control the amount of sugar that goes into it. While it’ll still have plenty of sugar in it, this way you can probably feel a little bit more guilt-free and your Thanksgiving meal will feel that much more homey!
12 OZ FRESH OR FROZEN CRANBERRIES
1 CUP SUGAR
1 CUP ORANGE JUICE (OR JUST WATER)
Rinse the cranberries, getting rid of the not-so-good looking ones of the bunch. Then, boil the orange juice + sugar (the original recipe says to use water, but I think the orange juice adds a little bit more of a sweetness to it without being overbearing and straight sugar). Once boiling, add the cranberries and cook until they burst. Once done, add any spices or additional dressings you’d like before letting it cool.
GREEN. BEAN. CASSEROLE. This one is always a personal favorite. But again, classic green bean casseroles tend to use canned green beans and condensed soups which contain tons of sodium. I know, I know. Sodium is what makes everything taste so dang good – but if you’re looking to feel a little less guilty while you’re pigging out this Thanksgiving, here’s a clean eating green bean casserole recipe via Smile Sandwich!
1.5 LBS GREEN BEANS, TRIMMED + CUT
8 OZ MUSHROOMS, SLICED
3 TBSP WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
1 CUP MILK
1 CUP WATER
2 TBSP LOW FAT COTTAGE CHEESE
1/4 CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
1/2 TSP SALT
1/4 TSP GROUND PEPPER
1 TBSP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1 SMALL ONION, THINLY SLICED
1/3 CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
3 TBSP WATER
Preheat oven to 375. Boil the green beans for about 5-6 minutes, then drain and set aside. Saute onions in a pan in 1 TBSP of olive oil until golden brown; in the same pan, saute the mushrooms until soft. Add milk, whisking as you pour – add water, cottage cheese, Parmesan, salt + pepper, and whisk together until the cottage cheese melts. Add the green beans. In a bowl, stir the onions, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and water together. Spray baking dish with cooking spray and pour in the green bean mixture, adding the onion on top and cook uncovered for 25 minutes. SERVES 6
Quite possibly one of the biggest offenders because it’s so easy to load it with butter, brown sugar, and even marshmallows if you get real fancy with it. So good, but so dangerous. Here’s a recipe via Jessica in the Kitchen that helps make this sweet classic a little sweeter for your health.
3 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP
6 TBSP FLOUR OR ALMOND FLOUR (GF)
1.5 TBSP MELTED BUTTER
3/4 CUP PECANS, CHOPPED
3.3 LBS SWEET POTATOES, PEELED AND CUT INTO 1-IN CUBES
3 TBSP BROWN SUGAR
3 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP
1/4 CUP UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK
6 TBSP COCONUT OR OLIVE OIL
6 TBSP UNSALTED BUTTER
1 TSP CINNAMON
1/2 TSP SALT
Preheat the oven to 350. Boil the sweet potatoes for about 20 minutes. Work on the maple pecan topping while the potatoes are boiling by mixing together 3 TBSP maple syrup, 6 TBSP flour, 1.5 TBSP melted butter, and the pecans – set aside til needed. Once the potatoes are done boiling, drain and mash them. Add the remaining ingredients to the potatoes (brown sugar, maple syrup, almond milk, oil, butter, cinnamon, and salt). Spoon the sweet potato mix into the baking dish and add the pecan topping. Bake for 30 minutes – be sure to check and make sure the nuts don’t burn while in the oven. SERVES 8-10
Maybe this one isn’t particularly a “classic,” but it’s a good way to add some extra color and some fresh greens to your plate. Plus it’s super festive! Recipe via Creme De La Crumb.
6 CUPS DARK LEAFY GREENS (SPINACH, KALE, ARUGULA, ETC)
1 RED APPLE
1 GREEN APPLE
1 CUP WALNUTS, CHOPPED
1/3 CUP FETA CHEESE, CRUMBLED
1/3 CUP DRIED CRANBERRIES
1 CUP APPLE JUICE
4 TBSP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
2 TBSP HONEY
1/2 TSP SALT
1/4 TSP PEPPER
1/4 CUP OIL
Core and chop the apples – then combine salad, apples, walnuts, feta cheese, and cranberries in a large bowl. For the dressing, whisk together the apple juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and oil. Toss into the salad right before serving. SERVES 4-6
Don’t get mad at me for going near pumpkin pie! It is delicious and obviously a classic. But we all know that when it comes to desserts, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a cleaner version of this Thanksgiving favorite. The Gracious Pantry has a lot of clean eating recipes, including recipes for apple + pecan pies!
And voila! Some of you might be offended I even tried to suggest “healthy” Thanksgiving sides, but for those of you that might have been looking for more heart-healthy options, I hope that you found this post useful. Let me know what you thought!! (-:
I hope you know that I am incredibly grateful for you all as readers. The Southern Sooner would not be worth it without you! And huge shout out to my lovely friend Kate for her help with the graphic design work for the post today and for helping me find the perfect stock photo – it makes me SO ready for Thanksgiving to be here!