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Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes That Won't Totally Blow Your Nutrition Goals

One of the biggest meals of the year is right around the corner and you've been working so hard to keep your nutrition on track. You know Grandma Jan is going to make her famous apple pie, and Aunt Susan always overloads the rolls with butter. These two items are a must have for the holidays and you won't be skipping them. Good news is, you don't have to! Keep the must haves this holiday, and supplement some traditional side dishes with healthier versions. Ambitious Kitchen is one of my all-time favorite food blogs. Lucky for you, they have a whole category just for Thanksgiving dinner recipes. Take a look at some of these side dishes that have a nutritious kick!

Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes That Won't Totally Blow Your Nutrition Goals


Stuffing, or dressing, depending on what your family calls it, is a must have on Thanksgiving Day. This side dish staple can be loaded with carbs and high in calories, so be careful about how much you put onto your plate. Ambitious Kitchen has a gluten-free corn bread stuffing option. Traditional corn bread stuffing can pack around 344 calories per serving and a total of 44 carbs. A serving from this recipe is 279 calories and 33 grams of carbs. This recipe serves 9.

Green Bean Casserole

Never have I ever been to a Thanksgiving meal without green bean casserole. It is one of my favorite side dishes, and confession, I have zero idea how to make it. I also had no idea how many calories are in it, until now. This side dish is one of the healthier ones to begin with. A traditional serving of green bean casserole is around 160 calories, and the recipe, linked here, from Ambitious Kitchen sits around that same calorie count. With only 18 grams of carbs and 7 grams of protein, this recipe is one of the healthier options we will see. It serves 10, and you can find the nutrition facts below the cooking instructions.

Cranberry Sauce

Onto my least favorite side dish....Cranberry Sauce. Although I don't have a taste for this, I will not deny the fact that this dish is a tradition at Thanksgiving. Usually you see Grandma open the can and slide the gelatin like substance out, and it still has the ridge of the can imprinted on the sides. She simply cuts it, and puts it on a plate. I don't know about your family, but my family devours this stuff, every year, without fail. Even though canned cranberry takes minimal effort, switching to a recipe that contains natural ingredients and zero high fructose corn syrup may be a better option. As far as calories and fat go, this all natural recipe is higher, so I suppose it's not "healthier." I will argue, however, that anything that included all natural ingredients is already healthier. This version isn't processed and doesn't contain additives that will make it's shelf life longer. This recipe uses vanilla extract and maple syrup to sweeten the sauce. Feel free to use these ingredients to taste. This will lower your calorie count and allow you to control the sweetness. You can find Ambitious Kitchen's Cranberry Sauce recipe here.

Roasted Veggies

This recipe includes all your favorite Thanksgiving veggies; brussel sprouts, butternut squash, onions, and carrots. If you're not a fan of butternut squash, toss some pumpkin or sweet potatoes into the mix. After searching the Ambitious Kitchen website from top to bottom, this recipe has the least amount of calories I could find for veggies, but still packs in some vital nutrients. This recipe serves 6 people and only carries a mere 133 calories per serving. Although it is a little high in fat, the carbohydrates in this dish are nothing to fret about.

Mashed Potatoes

While all of the other sides I have listed are negotiables when it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, mashed potatoes are not. I cannot guarantee that this recipe will taste any better than Aunt Karen's or Cousin Sue's mashed potatoes, but what I can guarantee is that this recipe is super easy because it is all done in the slow cooker. You won't have to time manage and worry about your dish getting cold before arriving to your gathering. Are we really worried about calories when it comes to mashed potatoes? Maybe you are and that is certainly okay. This recipe serves 10 and is 200 calories per serving. This is such a popular dish, which I'm sure you will consume, however I encourage you to not worry about how many calories each serving has, and instead practice portion control. Put a mole mill of potatoes on your plate, insead of a mountain. A mole hill requires a puddle's worth of gravy and not a lake. Here, you can find Ambitious Kitchen's Creamy Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes.

Pumpkin Pie

Last, but not least, dessert! This is where the calories can really start to add up and where we can get ourselves into a surplus quick. Pumpkin pie is about the healthiest choice you can make when it comes to dessert. Apple pie sits around 400 calories per slice, while pecan pie is about 500 calories. In this pumpkin pie recipe, Ambitious Kitchen breaks down the nutrition facts. The pie is meant to serve ten, and each slice carries 229 calories. This recipe includes some healthy alternative ingredients, such as almond milk instead of whole milk and coconut sugar or organic cane sugar, Because the pie is cut into ten slices, instead of the traditional eight, you can have your dessert indulgence while maintaining a feeling of satiety without going overboard.

Final Thoughts

Finding lower calorie alternatives that still taste delicious can be really tough at times. These recipes from Ambitious Kitchen can help. I used the Ambitious Kitchen recipes simply because I love them. They are some of the best I have found on the internet and I love that the nutrition facts are always listed at the end of the recipe. I promise I do not get any sort of kickback from you visiting the site and clicking on a recipe. I hope that when you indulge in your Thanksgiving meal, you are thankful that you have food on the table, many options to choose from, and are surrounded by the ones you love. During this holiday season, I wish you and your family an immense amount of joy as you gather. To you, my Maiden Friend! - Coach CoJo

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