Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means food, family, fun, and libations will be a steady supply.
The holidays are also when many people eschew healthy eating habits based on most holiday offerings, not being the most figure-friendly.
Not this year!
With just a bit of planning and some recipe retooling, you can enjoy those same wonderfully indulgent Thanksgiving side dishes, but without blowing your diet.
Here are some of our favorite healthy side dishes for Thanksgiving!
Healthy Protein Cornbread
The default bread option for many families at Thanksgiving is those little sweet rolls you buy at the store. They’re tasty, sure enough, but why not amp up the flavor, fun, and “fitness” of this side dish by making your very own healthy protein cornbread.
This recipe is super simple, which means even if you’re the culinary equivalent of Amelia Bedelia, you can still make this!
- ¼ cup (2oz) milk of choice
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup (61g) unsweetened apple sauce – 61g
- 1 cup (8oz) plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon (21g) honey
- ¼ cup (20g) rolled oats
- ¾ cup (99g) cornmeal
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 scoop SteelFit® Steel Whey™ Vanilla Milkshake
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ Teaspoon baking soda
- *Optional: For a sweeter cornbread, you may also add 10-15 drops of liquid sweetener to the batter
- Preheat the oven to 425℉/218℃
- Dump the rolled oats into the food processor or blender and blend until turned into a fine powder
- Add the remaining ingredients to the processor and process until you have a homogenous mixture
- Coat an 8×8 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray
- Pour cornbread batter into the ban and transfer to the oven
- Bake for 15-20 minutes
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and eating!
Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potato casserole is one of those dishes that makes Thanksgiving what it is — rich, indulgent, and downright delicious.
A big part of the reason that sweet potato casserole is so tasty is that it’s dripping with sugar and butter — both foods are fine in moderation, but most recipes for sweet potato casserole overdo it.
Here’s a tasty and healthy recipe for this all-time Thanksgiving classic!
- 2-½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (or coconut oil or avocado oil)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
Pecan Streusel Topping:
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour (can also sub oat flour)
- ⅓ cup brown sugar (or brown sugar baking substitute)
- 4 teaspoons orange juice concentrate
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water.
- Bring potatoes to a boil.
- Cover and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Drain well and return to the pan. Mash with a potato masher.
- Measure out 3 cups. (Reserve any extra for another use.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Coat an 8×8 (or similar 2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, oil, and honey together.
- Add mashed sweet potato and mix well.
- Next, stir in milk, orange zest, vanilla, and salt.
- When thoroughly combined, spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish.
- To prepare the streusel topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, orange juice concentrate, oil, and butter in a small bowl.
- Blend with a fork until crumbly.
- Stir in pecans.
- Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the casserole.
- Bake the casserole until heated through and the top is lightly browned about 35 to 45 minutes.
Cherry Orange Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is a staple side dish on virtually every Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately, what passes for “cranberry sauce” (that wiggly Jell-O like concoction in a can) isn’t all that tasty or figure-friendly, seeing as it contains a heaping 24 grams of sugar per serving!
Most homemade recipes aren’t much better as they too inundate these nutrient-packed berries with sugar.
With just a few tweaks and some smart substitutions, you can make a delicious and low-calorie cranberry sauce.
- 1 bag (12oz) fresh cranberries
- 1 can (12oz) diet ginger ale
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- Pinch of salt
- Dash cinnamon
- Optional: granulated sweetener (Swerve, Erythritol, Stevia, etc.)
- Place your cranberries in a colander and rinse thoroughly.
- Add the cranberries, 8 ounces ginger ale, and juice of the orange to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Once the mixture reaches a boil, allow it to simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.
- As the mixture simmers, the berries will begin to burst. For an even smoother cranberry sauce, take a wooden spoon or potato masher and smash the berries as they burst open.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest and pinch of salt.
- Taste your cranberry sauce, and if you’d like it sweeter, add granulated sweetener to taste a tablespoon at a time.
- Let mixture cool completely before transferring to a resealable container and storing in the fridge.
Garlic & Herb Green Beans
Thanksgiving meals are built around starchy, high-carb side dishes, but it’s also important to get some non-starchy veggies on your plate too.
Here’s a simple yet delicious recipe for garlic and herb green beans.
- 1-½ pounds fresh green beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450°F
- In a large rimmed baking sheet (15x10x1), toss the green beans with the olive oil, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, occasionally stirring until the green beans are crisp-tender and lightly browned
Cauliflower Au Gratin
Cauliflower is such an incredibly versatile vegetable, and it makes a great low-carb swap for rice, pizza crust, and mashed potatoes.
Here we take the conventional potatoes au gratin, a dish steeped in butter, cream, and cheese, and swap in cauliflower so that you can have the indulgence and decadence of traditional potatoes au gratin without the guilt!
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1-½ cups milk
- 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan (not the stuff in the green can!)
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme
- Black pepper
- Optional: freshly chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, and when water is boiling, add cauliflower and cook for 3 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked cauliflower to a bowl of ice water to cool.
- Drain, then lay the cooled cauliflower on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry completely
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and once melted, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
- Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, about 1-2 minutes
- Slowly stream in the milk, stirring continuously until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Turn off heat and add half of the Gruyere, parmesan, and thyme. Stir to combine until the cheese is melted, then add in the salt and pepper.
- Add half of the cauliflower to the pan, then pour in half of the creamy Gruyere mixture.
- Repeat with the other half of the cauliflower and Gruyere sauce.
- Top with remaining half of shredded Gruyere.
- Transfer the casserole dish to the oven and back until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley (if desired) and serve warm.
Thanksgiving is a time to relax, enjoy, and spend time with family, friends, and loved ones. It’s also a time to relish the finer things in life, like great food, drink, and conversation.
At the same time, you don’t want the holidays to be a time when you go completely off the rails with your diet and exercise program. This is why it’s important to maintain your exercise habits and keep an eye on your portion sizes.
For added support with your diet and physique goals, we created Steel Core®, a stimulant-free thermogenic that supports metabolism, aids carbohydrate partitioning, and promotes a healthy stress response.