Potatoes, stuffing, and turkey are the pillars of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. It’s a meal that celebrates carbs and brown food (with a hint of sage, thyme, and parsley).
Those dishes may reign supreme, but balancing out your plate with exciting vegetable dishes has major perks. The obvious perk is saving yourself calories—potentially hundreds of calories. A report by the Calorie Control Council calculated that the typical Thanksgiving meal—including appetizers and dessert—easily tops 3,000 calories (and more than 150 grams of fat).
But other perks include adding more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your plate, balancing out the flavors, enjoying variation in textures, and last but not least, savoring some really mouth-watering vegetables. We’re not talking about iceberg lettuce salads, folks.
For vegetable side dishes that might just become the star of the Thanksgiving table, try one (or five) of these lighter sides—all less than 100 calories per serving:
Cinnamon-roasted sweet potato and apples (100 calories per ½ cup). Sweet potatoes are higher in calcium and vitamin A than your typical russet potato, so they make a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. Diced sweet potato and apple gets sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and then roasted slowly in the oven. Check out the recipe from the American Heart Association.
Green beans with cranberries and hazelnuts (35 calories per ½ cup). This flavorful dish might make you forget about green bean casserole. Green beans are tossed with toasted hazelnuts, cranberries, and lemon zest for a slightly nutty, slightly tart veggie dish. Find out how to make this light green bean dish here.
Sweet potato mash with pineapple and spices (80 calories per ½ cup). The genius of this recipe is that the pineapple sweetens the mash, so you don’t need to add sugar or maple syrup. Plus, pineapple adds a bright, cheerful flavor that will liven up your meal. The added cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cloves will make you think you’re eating pumpkin pie—but for only 80 calories. (Bye, sweet potato casserole. We’ve moved on.) Check out the recipe for this spiced sweet potato mash here.
Citrusy brussels sprouts with walnuts and shallots (80 calories per ½ cup). Save the pot of boiling water for your potatoes. Brussels sprouts come alive when they have little golden edges, so sauté them with shallots, orange segments, and walnuts. The orange helps counter the bitterness of the brussels sprouts. Check out the recipe from The American Diabetes Association.
Thanksgiving slaw (80 calories per ½ cup). Slaw isn’t just for summer picnics. By tweaking the ingredients, this slaw gets an autumn makeover that’s perfect for Thanksgiving. Shred or julienne red cabbage and Granny Smith apples and toss with walnuts, dried cranberries, and an apple cider vinaigrette for the most refreshing dish on the Thanksgiving table. Or switch it up and add shredded beets, carrots, celeriac, or basically any root vegetable. Find out how to make this apple and red cabbage slaw here.
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