Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes | Easy and Delicious

My favorite holiday is upon us! Thanksgiving. It’s a time family can get together and express gratitude for the abundance and love in their life. What a beautiful thing.  Not to mention the food… YUM.

Of course turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing is served at almost every thanksgiving. But how can you jazz up the sides with local fresh produce from your grocery store or farmers markets?  I’ll show you how. Here’s my mom’s take on Thanksgiving sides using local vegetables my family sources from New England and beyond –whole, healthy foods, and simply delicious! 



This is one of my favorite thanksgiving dishes. My mom made a small tray this past thanksgiving, but it was gone after only a few family members went through the line.  So savory, salty, healthy and delicious. 


·      3 bulbs fennel

·      ¼ cup white wine

·      1 stick melted butter

·      ½ cup chicken broth

·      ¼ cup of olive oil

·      1 cup of breadcrumbs

·      1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

·      Fresh ground pepper


1. Steam fennel bulbs in large pot, cook half way through. Not all the way as they will cook more later.

2.  Cut fennel in quarters (if large bulbs, cut in 6). Make nice wedges, about the size of a tangerine. Line each fennel wedge cut side up in rows in large casserole or gratin dish.

3. Add white wine, ½ cup chicken broth, and 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter to casserole dish. Bake covered for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out, remove foil.

4. Mix breadcrumbs, the rest of the melted butter, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, pepper, and sprinkle mixture on top. Cook at 400 degrees uncovered for 20 minutes until it’s crusted on the top. Serve warm.




·      2 – 3 large cauliflower heads

·      8 cups of spinach

·      1 ½ stick of butter,

·      3 TBSP all purpose flour (or whole wheat flour is even better)

·      2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

·      3 cups whole milk

·      3 grates of fresh nutmeg

·      1 cup italian breadcrumbs (gluten free varieties are also fine)

·      1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese


·      Bring salted water to boil, add spinach and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Let cool, and drain, and squeeze all the water out with hands, removing most of the moisture. Cut larger stalks out, and chop coarsely into smaller pieces. Set spinach aside.

·      Steam cauliflower in large pot until halfway cooked. De-rib and cut cauliflower into small florets (the size of tangerines roughly).

·      Add thin layer of EVOO to bottom of medium casserole dish, and

line up cauliflower florets in even rows.

·      Meanwhile, make the cream sauce.  Add one stick of butter to sauce pan. Add flour, mixing thoroughly with whisk to make a rue. When well congealed, add two cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese, and stir so that it’s thoroughly melted, this should take a 1-2 minutes to melt. Add spinach and 3 cups of whole milk. Continue stirring with a whisk until thick on moderate heat. Finally grate some nutmeg and remove from heat

·      Pour evenly over cauliflower in casserole dish

·      Toast some breadcrumbs in ½ stick butterin small sauté pan. Once lightly toasted, add to top of cauliflower.

·      Finally finish with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Add evenly over entire casserole dish and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.



This is a nice change (or addition) to traditional mashed potatoes! The apple and parsnip combination is sweet yet savory, smooth and velvety, and a great flavor compliment to turkey.


·      5 cups coarsely chopped parsnips

·      3 tablespoons unsalted butter

·      2 granny smith apples, peeled and coursely chopped

·      ½ cup sour cream

·      ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

·      Salt and freshly ground pepper

·      ½ cup chicken broth



·      Place parsnips in large saucepan. Cover with salted water and bring to boil. Cook for 15 minutes and simmer until tender.

·      While parsnips are cooking, melt the butter in small skillet over low heat. Add apples and sauté for 7 minutes until soft.

·      Process parsnips and apples in food processor, blend until smooth, Add the sour cream, allspice, salt, pepper. Blend until smooth. Serve warm.



My mom makes the best thanksgiving sweet potatoes and I think its because she has a tried and true recipe with a secret ingredient, wait for it… yes, fresh squeezed orange juice.  This flavor combination is melt in your mouth.


·      6 medium sized sweet potatoes (yams)

·      2 cups orange juice

·      1/2 cup brown sugar

·      1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

·      4 Tbsp butter, melted

·      2 -3 grates of nutmeg


·      Preheat oven to 350. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1 ½  -2 inch rounds, arrange in a single layer in large glass casserole dish.

·      In small mixing bowl, add 1 ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup of brown sugar, ½ stick of butter melted, nutmeg. Mix thoroughly and pour over sweet potatoes, cover with aluminum foil and cook at 350 for 40 minutes.

·      Turn and baste after 20 mins. Return to oven without aluminum foil until browned, glazed and delicious.


Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Harvesting Cabbage with my Dad - Thanksgiving 2016

Harvesting Cabbage with my Dad - Thanksgiving 2016