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3 Healthy & Seasonal Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Turkey with stuffing and gravy, creamy casseroles and sweet pumpkin pie for dessert – there are certain dishes that are synonymous with Thanksgiving. Often, these staples have elements full of saturated fat and sugar. While it’s okay to enjoy these comfort foods, it’s great to offer healthy options to create balance at the table. Luckily, fiber-rich root vegetables and crucifers stretch their seasonality into November, making them favorites around the Thanksgiving table. 

Sweet potatoes are a sweet and starchy root vegetable that thrives in cooler months. Their bright orange color point to their beta-carotene content, a nutrient that converts to vitamin A in the body and supports eye health. They’re also a great source of vitamin C, a nutrient known to support the immune system. If you’re a sweet potato lover, leaving the skin on can come with an extra set of benefits. A whole sweet potato with the peel has over 6 grams of fiber, helping with gut health and promoting healthy blood sugar levels.

Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables that are delicious when shaved into a salad or roasted to crisp perfection and topped with balsamic glaze. Their dark green color point to their vitamin K content, a nutrient essential for coagulation and important for bone health. In fact, a half-cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides nearly all the vitamin K most people need in a day. Much like their cruciferous counterparts, Brussels sprouts also are rich in fiber and vitamin C.

Try one of these healthy and seasonal Thanksgiving side dishes featuring nutrient-packed autumn veggies:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lemon Herb Ranch Drizzle

Serves 4

These sweet potatoes are cubed, tossed in heart-healthy olive oil, herbs and spices, then roasted to perfection until golden and caramelized. Unlike many Thanksgiving dishes with sweet potatoes, this recipe leans on the natural sweetness of the fall crop by omitting excess added sugar. The lemon herb ranch drizzle adds an acidic element for balance. The nuts and chives add a nice crunch and flavor punch to these tender veggies.


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed to ¾ inch
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika powder
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. chives, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts or shaved almonds


  1. Heat the oven to 425°F. 
  2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato cubes with olive oil, honey, garlic, onion and paprika powder, dried thyme and rosemary, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread the cubes in an even layer on the sheet pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway, until tender, golden and lightly browned on the edges.
  4. While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the dressing. In a bowl, combine crushed garlic, oregano, lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste. Add a little water at a time until it has reached your desired consistency. Mix until smooth
  5. Put the potatoes on a serving plate. Drizzle the dressing over it then top with chives and nuts.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad 

Serves 4

The bitterness of the Brussels sprouts and the sweetness of the apple perfectly marry in this fall salad recipe. Simply shave and roast the Brussels sprouts, thinly slice the apples, then toss with your favorite vinaigrette alongside cranberries, pistachios and freshly grated parmesan. This recipe pairs well classic Thanksgiving main dishes like turkey and stuffing. Tossed in a vinaigrette, it’s a lighter salad dressing option featuring heart-healthy oil instead.


  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • Italian, classic or champagne vinaigrette to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Clean Brussels sprouts, then shave with a mandolin or shred with a knife.
  3. On a baking sheet with parchment paper, add Brussels sprouts and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 7-10 minutes or until mostly golden and crispy.
  4. Add all ingredients except dressing to a bowl and toss. Shave a little extra parmesan on top for garnish. If serving immediately, toss in vinaigrette. Otherwise, serve dressing on the side to preserve freshness until served.

Savory Sweet Potato Bites

Serves 6-8

Whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish this Thanksgiving, consider making these savory and simple bites that serve up a flavorful punch of nutrients. Brushed with a maple syrup-and-herb mixture and roasted, these sweet potatoes develop complex flavors that pair excellently with their goat cheese and cranberry topping.


  • 3 peeled sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick rounds
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1⁄3 cup goat cheese
  • 1⁄2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1⁄3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Toss sweet potato slices in 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a lined baking sheet, leaving spaces in between. 
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until fork-tender. While sweet potatoes are baking, combine cranberries, pecans, thyme, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil and honey in a small bowl. 
  4. Take out sweet potatoes and top with cranberry and pecan mixture. Bake for another 5-8 minutes. Top with goat cheese and serve.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more recipes and health information, visit

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Author: A Healthier Michigan

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