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Going Bountiful: 5 Light and Healthy Thanksgiving Vegetable Sides to Try This Year

Published Nov 14, 2023

Thanksgiving—you know the drill: break out the cranberry sauce, fire up the oven, and get ready to eat yourself silly. Don’t get us wrong, a little stuffing never hurt nobody. But at the same time, wouldn’t it be nice to just lighten things up a bit? Enter: our roundup of the most delicious (also healthy) Thanksgiving vegetable sides, lovingly laid out in shades of green and amber. Nothing heavy, nothing extreme—just some darn good old-fashioned veggie sides to balance out the rest of the day’s indulgences.

Even better, you’ll find that many of these recipes can be supplemented with fresh ingredients harvested straight from a Gardyn Home Kit. Skip the line at the grocery store; start Gardyning today.

Thanksgiving Without The Guilt: Best Veggie Side Recipes

Sauteed Broccoli & Kale with Toasted Garlic Butter

It won’t take a lot of prep to create this remarkable dish, but the flavor will knock your socks off. This warm Thanksgiving vegetarian-friendly side combines broccoli and kale with garlic, butter, and red pepper. The toasty garlicky butter sets off the bitterness of the greens in all the right ways. Get your food styling game on and serve alongside roasted chicken or turkey, or enjoy with grains like quinoa and brown rice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 large bunches stemmed kale, leaves coarsely chopped.
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add in the garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add in the broccoli and kale and cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally (if you like your veggies softer, pre-cook them in hot water before this step).
  4. Serve warm with a sprinkle of red pepper.

Roasted Root Veggies & Sage

Talk about a time-honored fodd classic. Roasted root veggies done right might just take top spot at the Thanksgiving spread. Sweet potatoes, turnips, radishes, carrots, onions. rutabagas, and more—this one can accommodate it all. For extra flavor, top with a sprinkle of feta cheese and hazelnuts. The only downside? This nourishing Thanksgiving side is almost too gorgeous to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spread the vegetables onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Add the sage and thyme leaves over your vegetables, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until your vegetables become tender and golden around the edges. Toss halfway through baking.
  5. Remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter.
  6. Sprinkle feta cheese and toasted hazelnuts over the top.
  7. Garnish with fresh oregano and serve.

Holiday-Spice Roasted Butternut Squash

You can’t go wrong with this tried-and-true (and one of the best) Thanksgiving vegetable side. Roasting the butternut squash in cinnamon creates a sweet, crunchy topping that will go perfectly with a heaping slice of holiday ham, or just alongside some crusty bread. Sprinkle some rosemary on top to balance out the sweetness. Prepare for compliments all around the dinner table!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, honey, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Add the butternut squash cubes and toss to coat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  4. Spread the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender and golden brown.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the cubes with a spatula, then return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with rosemary before serving.

Loaded Corn Fiesta Salad

Bring a bit of south-of-the-border flair to your Thanksgiving dinner table with this cheesy jalapeno corn salad. It’s all your guilty pleasures rolled into one: smoky bacon bits, gooey melted cheese, plus an unexpected kick of jalapeno. It’ll be the best thing to ever happen to your spoon, and won’t take long to put together, either. You can also make this vegetable side ahead of time and refrigerate until turkey day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups corn kernels, cooked and cooled
  • ½ cup cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (or Pepper Jack)
  • ½ cup cooked crispy bacon, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the jalapeno, corn, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cheese.
  2. Mix until everything is well-combined.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Refrigerate for at least an hour, and add bacon before serving.

Green Bean Casserole

This classic Thanksgiving side dish is always a hit. The tang of the mushrooms, the crunch of the crispy fried shallots—it’s an unbeatable combination that’s been going strong for decades. Swap out the canned cream soup for our more nutritious homemade version, with mushrooms, shallots, and a sprinkling of tasty Parmesan. Warning: may cause drooling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed ends, cut into pieces
  • ½ pound mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ pound shallots, sliced with a mandolin
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Toss shallots in salt and let sit for 10 minutes (to absorb moisture). Cook in oil over medium heat until soft and golden brown. Roll fried shallots in paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  2. In a large skillet, cook onions in butter until tender and caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook for 4 more minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl.
  3. In the same skillet, make a roux with butter and flour. Slowly whisk in milk, cream, salt, and pepper. Cook until mixture thickens and resembles a sort of cream sauce.
  4. Boil green beans until tender, 6-7 minutes. Drain and shock in ice bath (optional).
  5. Add onion-mushroom mix to cream sauce. Stir in green beans to coat.
  6. Pour into baking dish, top with cheese. Bake 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
  7. Sprinkle with fried shallots and serve.

Bonus: Check Out These Other Thanksgiving Recipes!

Alright, we know, seven is not always enough to satisfy a hungry crowd. Here are some bonus recipes to expand your Thanksgiving vegetable side repertoire:

Mashed Yukon Golds: Simple and satisfying. Just take potatoes, butter, cream and a pinch of salt, and whip ’em until fluffy perfection. Add a dollop of sour cream for extra decadence, and you’ve got a side that’s like smooth silk.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower: Skip the creamy mashed potatoes and opt for this healthier spin on a classic Thanksgiving favorite. You’ll love these fluffy, garlicky mashed cauliflower florets. They’re delicious and light enough that you won’t feel guilty about polishing off seconds. An extra dose of cream cheese brings loads of smooth richness without the guilt. Finish it off with a chive garnish. Enjoy it with a casserole, stew, or just as is. We promise—you won’t miss the starch for a second.

Sweet Corn Harvest Fix: Rich, sweet, and comforting, this dish is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving menu. All you need for this dish is frozen sweet corn, cream, butter, cheese, and a (optional) crunchy topping of panko breadcrumbs. Fantastic to go along with a roast or steak.

Nutty Creamed Spinach: Bring on early Christmas vibes with this warm and creamy Thanksgiving vegetable side. Sautee spinach, then dust with nutmeg, thyme, and a sprinkling of toasted walnuts. This leafy treat is usually the first to disappear from the Thanksgiving table.

Sweet Potato Au Gratin: Your favorite spud is dressed to the nines in this luscious cheesy casserole. Layer thin slices of sweet potato and onions in a casserole dish, smother with a thick cream sauce and cheesy topping, and bake. Serve hot, and it’ll be the highlight of your Thanksgiving day for everyone to enjoy.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts: For an unbeatable flavor combo, team up your brussels with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. The key to making these crunchy little treats is a bit of brown butter, topped with grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes. Super quick and incredibly flavorful.

Air Fried Acorn Squash: If you want truly healthy, super-tasty, and super-easy, then you’ll love this air-fryer recipe. Toss cubes of acorn squash with a mix of maple syrup, melted butter, and rosemary. Makes for a sweet and savory side with plenty of that roasted crunch to accompany your main course.

Tango Roasted Carrots: Sweet, savory, and a touch tart—this Thanksgiving vegetable side never fails to impress. Slice ’em lengthwise, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Top with a kiss of brown butter, and serve with lemon slices on the side. This roasted carrots recipe won’t leave any leftovers.

Sage-Kissed Pecan Acorn Squash: Honey-roasted shallots, toasted pecans and fresh sage lend just the right zing to this age-old autumn favorite. Serve it roasted, baked, or gratin—all equally tasty options.

Grow Your Next Thanksgiving Vegetable Side Dishes With Gardyn

Feeling inspired by the myriad benefits of horticultural therapy? You’re not alone! Many are turning to this therapeutic approach to find solace, healing, and a deeper connection with nature. But where to begin? Whether you have sprawling green acres or just a tiny balcony, here’s a friendly guide to help you sow the seeds of your horticultural therapy journey.

1. Seek Expert Guidance: While diving hands-first into the soil is tempting, consider starting your journey with a certified horticultural therapist. They can tailor activities to your needs, ensuring you reap the maximum therapeutic benefits. Plus, they’ll offer invaluable insights into the world of therapeutic gardening.

Bring the farm to your kitchen this Thanksgiving with the Gardyn Home 3.0.

Our latest AI-powered hydroponic grow tower comes equipped with patented Hybriponics™ technology, LED lighting, and machine vision. That means no soil, no dirt, no mess.Our unique system creates and maintains the ideal conditions for all kinds of plants to thrive—all without you lifting a finger.

  • Cultivate up to 30 plants in just 2 sq ft, enough to feed a family of 4-6.
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  • Get to know Kelby, your AI gardening assistant! Kelby is always ready to help and has one step ahead of your plants’ health, providing real-time feedback and adjusting your tower’s settings for optimal growth.
  • Zero pesticides and other nasty chemicals, leaving you with the healthiest and freshest produce imaginable.
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  • Easy setup and maintenance: simply fill the tank up and let Gardyn do the rest.

Enjoy the season’s bounty, fully grown and harvested in the comfort of your own space. Shop now and get ready to share your best Thanksgiving side dish recipes with your closest ones today.

“Harvest Healing with Gardyn: Where Horticultural Therapy Blossoms, Cultivating Wellness for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit!”


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