Easy Recipes for 5...No, Let's Make That 10...Holiday Dinner Sides

Your favorite holiday dinner side dishes can be nutritious as well as tasty.

November 22, 2010

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The high season of food holidays is upon us...but that doesn't mean it's too late to update your menus. So we've added five new options, and some alternates, to our list of recommended Thanksgiving and winter holiday recipes. And in the interest of seasonal fellowship, we've even replaced the controversial opening image to this story. (Click here to see what the fuss was about.)

There's more to Turkey Day or a Christmas feast than just the turkey. Surround that Tom with a few of these easy, healthy, delicious Thanksgiving side dishes and you'll have a truly terrific holiday feast. (Don't see your family favorites? Check the Rodale Recipe Finder for more healthy options.)

1: Thanksgiving Bread Stuffing

2: Green Bean-Macadamia Casserole

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3: Glazed Turnips, Pearl Onions, and Carrots

4: Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

5: Refrigerator Dinner Rolls

6: Chili-Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes

7: Herb Roasted Potato Medley

8: Spicy Holiday Punch

9: Cranberry-Nut Bread

10: Holiday Trifle

#1: Thanksgiving Bread Stuffing. Whether you make this classic version of stuffing or spice it up with savory sausage, bypass the white bread this year and use whole grain bread instead. Whole wheat and other whole grain breads are made from grains that haven't had their bran and germ stripped during the milling process. Leaving the grain intact allows your body to reap all the benefits from the fiber-rich whole grain—nutrients like B vitamins, protein, and antioxidants, and nourishing minerals like selenium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies show that whole grains are protective against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Also, whole grains help control weight gain (great news during the indulgence-filled holiday season) and encourage healthy bowel function.
#2: Green Bean and Macadamia Nut Casserole. For some, green bean casserole is the crème de la crème of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner side dishes. Skip the canned soup and packaged fried onions this year and try this delicious version topped with crunchy, rich macadamias. Your family will revolt if they don’t see a fried-onion topping? Appease them with this recipe featuring homemade, almond-crusted fried onions.
#3: Glazed Turnips, Pearl Onions, and Carrots. Since the oven’s reaching full capacity with must-haves like turkey and stuffing, try a veggie side that’s prepared on the stovetop, rather than roasted. Pearl onions are a Thanksgiving favorite that pairs beautifully with turnips and carrots. Or try a glazed, top-of-stove version of brussels sprouts, another traditional fall vegetable.
#4: Buttermilk-Herb Mashed Potatoes. Whether they’re regular potatoes or sweet, tasty tubers will inevitably appear on most holiday tables. These rich-tasting mashed potatoes are surprisingly low in fat since they’re made with low-fat buttermilk and nonfat sour cream. Sub these mini sweet potato casseroles for the usual sticky-sweet, marshmallow-topped side dish, or whip up these apricot-and-honey-accented mashed sweet potatoes on the stovetop to save space in the oven. It's hard to beat the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes: A one-cup serving provides more than 700 percent of the daily requirement for health-boosting vitamin A. They're also a very good source of vitamin C (one cup provides 65 percent of our daily requirement) and manganese, as well as a good source of potassium, copper, iron, fiber, and vitamin B6.
#5: Refrigerator Dinner Rolls. For a lot of families, the big meal is just not complete without a basket of warm, fresh-baked, bready goodness. These rolls are a worthy special-occasion treat. Or bake up some biscuits or corn bread, depending on your holiday tradition.
#6: Chili-Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Speaking of sweet potatoes, this recipe is a great way to add a little heat and spice to your dinner. For a more traditional flavor, just whip up some Whipped Sweet Potatoes, or go super-seasonal by making Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples.
#7: Herb Roasted Potato Medley. We can't resist a few more starchy tuber suggestions; this roasted medley is a great way to present the delicious colors of heirloom potato varieties. If oven space is tight, try making Savory Crockpot Potatoes (you can alter the recipe to use whatever seasonings you prefer). Or add some extra nutrition—and color—to the dish and cook up Red Potatoes with Kale.
#8: Spicy Holiday Punch. You worked so hard to prepare a tasty, festive, full-of-flavor meal. So why serve it with a boring batch of soda or store-bought juice? This punch puts the tartness of cranberries up against the sweetness of citrus. The winner? Your taste buds. Cranberry-Ginger Spiced Cider is another excellent holiday libation (brandy optional). And be prepared to break out the hot chocolate as the evening winds down. We recommend Eve Rodale's contest-winning version.
#9: Cranberry-Nut Bread. Cranberry fans should check out our list of recipes for cranberry sauce and other cranberry treats, to which we'll just add this nut bread recipe. It's a versatile addition to any holiday meal plan; you can put the bread out as an appetizer before dinner, serve it with dinner for sopping up gravy, offer it as a light dessert, or even use it to fill out your leftovers lunch the next day.
#10: Holiday Trifle. Got room for dessert? It's hard to top a classic holiday pie, but this angel food trifle is a nice, sweet, light alternative. Or serve this lightened-up Heavenly Tiramisu.
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