Healthified Thanksgiving Menu: Sides [Part One]

I don’t know about you, but I love Thanksgiving. I get to see my family, eat some delicious food, and usually partake in a hand of cards. In an effort to make this holiday healthier, we are making adjustments to traditional recipes without compromising the taste.

Today, we’ll give you the first three recipes for your healthified Thanksgiving: stuffing, cranberries, and dinner rolls.

Gluten Free Quinoa Stuffing

Stuffing is a must-have dish on everyone’s Thanksgiving table, but tend to be high in calories and not very nutrient dense. It’s time to ditch that high sodium, high simple sugar stuffing and replace it with this superhero of all stuffings! With a higher protein profile (thank you quinoa!) and additional nutrients like beta carotene from the sweet potatoes and antioxidants from the cranberries, your guests are sure to take to this tasty dish!

Serves: 16


  • 1C quinoa, dry
  • 1C wild rice, dry
  • 5C water
  • 2C of sweet potatoes, diced (1 inch chunks)
  • 1T + 2T olive oil
  • 1t salt
  • 1t pepper
  • 1T chopped garlic
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2t cumin
  • 1/2C dried cranberries
  • 1/3C toasted pecans, diced
  • 3T Parsley, Chopped
  • 2T honey
  • 1/4C red wine vinegar


  1. In a medium sized saucepan, bring 1C quinoa and 2C water to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed.
  2. In another medium sized saucepan, bring 1C wild rice and 3C of water to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed.
  3. Set the rice and quinoa aside in a large Tupperware container and let cool.
  4. Then, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a large cookie sheet with tin foil. Drizzle on 1T olive oil.
  5. Prep your vegetables by washing and chopping 2 large sweet potatoes into 1 inch chunks and finely dicing ½ of a medium red onion. Then, place vegetables on the cookie sheet. Add in 1T chopped garlic, salt, and pepper, and thoroughly toss, making sure everything is coated in olive oil.
  6. Roast veggies for 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft.
  7. Mix together quinoa, wild rice, and roasted veggies. Then add 1/2C dried cranberries, 1/3C pecans, 3T chopped parsley and toss. Drizzle on 2T honey, 2T olive oil, and 1/4C red wine vinegar.


Cranberry Mango Relish

Another classic side is jellied cranberries in a can. Just a note to Thanksgiving Day eaters: when the food maintains the shape of the can it comes in, it’s probably not the best food for you. Filled with sugar and preservatives, there are most certainly healthier options for this Thanksgiving favorite. Like this one for Cranberry Mango Relish–made with whole ingredients and all natural sugars.

Serves: 16


  • 2 small mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into large pieces.
  • 2C of cranberries
  • 1/2 medium unpeeled orange, cut into large pieces
  • 3 tsp agave nectar


  1. Place cranberries in a medium sized food processor. Then, finely chop by pulsing for about 1 minute.
  2. Then, add in the mango and pulse for about 30 seconds.
  3. Finally, do add in the orange and pulse for about 30 more seconds.
  4. Transfer into a medium bowl and enjoy!


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Recipe adapted from The Olive Times .

Dinner rolls may not be the stars of the show, but is imperative to the Thanksgiving meal. Made with a wealth of whole wheat flour, a pinch of pumpkin-y goodness and a lot of love, these festive rolls are sure to agree with your guests and your waistline.

Serves: 16


  • 1/4C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3C brown sugar
  • 1C pumpkin puree
  • ½C milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 package (0.25 once or 2 ¼ teaspoon) rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 ½C bread flour
  • 2 ½C whole wheat flour


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, pumpkin puree, milk, olive oil, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and eggs.
  2. Then, Stir in flour and yeast. Continue to add more flour if necessary, and knead until the dough is elastic and not sticky.
  3. Shape the dough into a smooth ball, place in a greased bowl, and grease the top.
  4. Cover and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour or longer). Punch the dough down and then divide the dough into 16 to 20 pieces. Roll them between floured hands to form round balls.
  5. Place them on a large greased baking sheet (or 9×13 inch pan), cover, and let rise until almost doubled (about 30 minutes).
  6. Bake the rolls at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are golden. After removing them from the oven, brush with olive oil (optional).
  7. Serve warm.

What if your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal?


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Lee is the blogger behind Lee is a recipe developer, certified Yoga Sculpt Instructor, and amateur photographer. She loves the outdoors, eats a lot of peanut butter, and is up by 6AM.