Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes

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Healthy Cooking

Food & Home /


Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means it is time to start preparing your Thanksgiving menu! Whether you are hosting family and friends at your home or you’re celebrating as a guest, these Thanksgiving side dises will quickly become a family favorite!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP - A Classic! I happen to really enjoy butternut squash — a good source of vitamin A, by the way. So here is a recipe that is both good and nutritious. This one, in fact, gives you your whole day's vitamin A, and almost a third of your daily vitamin C requirement. Serve as a first course, or the soup can take center stage at lunch or a light supper.

Makes about 6 cups


  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 ¼ pounds)
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, optional
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 cups water, or as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Low fat or nonfat sour cream and apple slices for garnish, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out and discard the seeds.
  3. Arrange the halves cut side down in a roasting pan that has been sprayed with the nonstick vegetable oil spray.
  4. Bake the squash in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until it is very tender.
  5. Set aside to cool.
  6. When the squash is completely cool, scoop the flesh from the skin.
  7. While the squash is baking, cook the onion and the ginger (if using) in the butter in a saucepan, over moderately low heat, for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened.
  8. Add the broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, covered.
  9. Add the squash pulp to the saucepan.
  10. Transfer the mixture to a blender or a food processor, in batches, and puree until smooth.
  11. Add enough water to achieve the desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Return the soup to the saucepan and cook it over moderate heat until it is hot.
  13. Garnish each portion with a heaping teaspoon of low-fat sour cream and a few apple slices, if desired.

Nutritional Analysis per 1-cup serving: 85 calories; 25% calories from fat; 3 grams of fat; 354 milligrams of sodium

ROASTED VEGETABLES - When I learned the secret of roasting vegetables, a whole new world of cooking opened up to me. Enormous flavor is added by the roasting process. Use a light brushing of olive oil to prevent vegetables from sticking to the pan. That small amount adds minimal calories and fat.

Serves 6


  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks (about 3 x ½  inches)
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks (about 3 x ½  inches)
  • 1 zucchini, cut into sticks (about 3 x ½  inches)
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 12 stalks), the tough ends removed and the stalk peeled
  • Florets from 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Arrange all the vegetables in one layer in a large shallow roasting pan, sprinkle them with the oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Roast them, stirring once, for 10 minutes or until they are tender.

Nutritional Analysis per serving. 139 calories; 30% calories
from fat; 5 grams of fat; 41 milligrams of sodium

CASSEROLE – Sweet potatoes are a MUST to serve for Thanksgiving dinner. This Sweet Potato and Parsnip Casserole is a delicious dish that will satisfy your family’s sweet potato craving without the “sweet” ingredients of other traditional sweet potato recipes. I love the way the flavors of sweet potatoes and parsnips blend together in this terrific recipe from Steven Raichlen.

Serves 4


  • 2 cups sliced onion
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, sliced, optional
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil plus 1 teaspoon for drizzling
  • 2 sweet potatoes (1 ¼  to 1 ½  pounds total), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • ½  pound parsnips, peeled and cut into /-inch slices
  • 1 to 1 ½  cups Vegetable Stock or Chicken Broth or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½  cup nonfat or low fat sour cream
  • ½  teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼  cup fine dry bread crumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the onions and garlic (if using) in 2 teaspoons of the oil, covered, over moderately low heat for 10 minutes or until the onions are softened.
  3. Uncover the pan, and cook the mixture for 3 minutes longer or until lightly browned.
  4. Add the potatoes, parsnips, broth, sour cream, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Simmer the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Transfer the mixture to a shallow casserole or gratin dish in which the vegetables fit in just one layer.
  8. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
  9. Bake the casserole for 20 to 30 minutes or until all the remaining broth has been absorbed and the top is crusty and brown.

Nutritional Analysis per serving: 315 calories; 12% calories
from fat; 5 grams of fat; 302 milligrams of sodiumNutritional Analysis per serving: 315 calories; 12% calories
from fat; 5 grams of fat; 302 milligrams of sodium

CORNBREAD STUFFING – Cornbread Stuffing is one of my Thanksgiving favorites! Try this mouth-watering recipe and trust me, it will become one of your favorites, too!

Makes about 2 quarts


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • One 8 ½ ounce can cream-style corn
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or thyme
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray


  1. 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  2. 2 cups peeled and finely diced butternut squash (about ½  medium)
  3. 1 Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 1 ½  cups chopped celery
  6. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  7. 1/2 cup apple juice
  8. ¼ cup chicken broth or canned reduced-sodium broth
  9. Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400°F

Make the cornbread:

  1. Sift the first five ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  2. In another bowl
whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, oil, corn, and dried herbs, and stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until it is just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into an 8-inch square baking pan that has been sprayed with the nonstick vegetable oil spray and bake the cornbread in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer, when inserted, comes out clean.
  4. Transfer the cornbread to a rack and let it cool.
  5. When it is completely cool, cut it into cubes or coarsely crumble it and transfer it to a mixing bowl.

Make the stuffing:

  1. Arrange the onion, squash, and apple in one layer in a shallow roasting pan, toss with the olive oil, and roast them in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the celery and roast the vegetables for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the cornbread, along with the egg, the apple juice, the chicken broth, and salt and pepper to taste and stir gently.
  4. Transfer the mixture to  a casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick vegetable oil spray.
  5. Cover tightly and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F.
  6. Turn up the heat to 450°F. and bake, uncovered, for 10 more minutes or until golden on top.

Optional: If you want to make the dish more hearty, add 1 pound crumbled, cooked, and drained lean turkey or chicken sausage.


Categories: Food & Home, Holiday, Recipes
About The Author
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Joan Lunden combines more than one hundred delicious, high-nutrition, low-fat recipes in her book Joan Lunden's Healthy Cooking! 

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