America’s biggest food splurge is right around the corner and some of you may still be searching for a few side dishes that won’t undo all your hard dieting efforts. I decided to look up some traditional recipes that would offer a twist for the health-conscious: most of them are either low in carbs, gluten free, paleo, or all three. The best part is that they’re also very simple to make and are super tasty. Pick one or make them all–and splurge STRONG FIGURE style this holiday!
(low carb, gluten free, paleo)
I love mashed potatoes and I love cauliflower so this was a no-brainer for me. Whole Foods offers a simple recipe for this under-rated dish, but I added a few extras for that special Thanksgiving UMPH.
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped and cooked/steamed until tender
- 1 TBS olive oil
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/4 c butter/milk/cream (whichever one you choose–not all three!)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 c mozzarella cheese
Add the cooked cauliflower and the rest of the ingredients(except the cheese) together and blend using a blender or food processor. Once blended, stir in the cheese.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
(gluten free and some may consider to be paleo)
I LOVE sweet potatoes. In fact, I think they might be in my top 5 favorite foods. Here’s the healthier yet still super tasty recipe that I found at AllRecipes.com.
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- a couple pinches each: dried oregano, salt, ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 and coat a baking dish with olive oil. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into medium pieces and toss them into the dish. (Literally toss them–make sure they get coated in the olive oil.) Sprinkle the oregano, salt, and pepper over the whole dish and bake for 60 minutes (or until soft.)
Quinoa and Cranberry High Protein Side Dish
(gluten free and most consider to be paleo)
Most Thanksgiving meals aren’t complete without a pasta dish of some sort. For me, quinoa is the closest food to pasta that I’ll eat. It’s a grain, yet it’s gluten free and ridiculously high in protein. It’s higher in carbs–but so is any pasta. And this dish that I found on About.Com is PACKED full of protein.
- 3 TBS butter
- 3/4 c chopped white onion
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3 cups chicken broth (I would use lower sodium if possible. If sodium is a big concern, simply use water)
- 1 1/2 c uncooked quinoa
- 3/4 c dried cranberries or golden raisins
- 1/2 toasted almonds
- 4 TBS chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter and saute the onions until golden. Add broth (or water) and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, bringing the pan back to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes (until the quinoa has absorbed all the water). Add the cranberries/raisins and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove, stir in the almonds and cilantro, season with salt and pepper, and serve either warm or at room temperature.
(low carb, gluten free, paleo)
Asparagus is one of those veggies that one either loves or hates. I never cared much for it until I stumbled across this recipe many many years ago. Now asparagus has become a dietary staple and I love resorting back to this recipe when I’m cooking it for others.
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus
- 2 TBS dijon mustard
- 1 small jar capers (drained and rinsed)
- 2 TBS olive oil
Directions: Heat the olive oil in a skillet and chop the asparagus into 2-inch pieces. Make sure to chop off the bottom inch of the stem and throw away if purple-ish in color. These pieces tend to be a bit tougher to chew. Place the asparagus into the skillet and add the capers. Toss in the olive oil so that all is coated. When the asparagus begins turning bright green, add the dijon mustard. Toss until all asparagus is coated. Serve warm.
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
(gluten free) Courtesy of glutenfreegoddess.com
Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without the stuffing. There are hundreds of recipes on how to make various types of stuffing so I just chose the one that looked the best to me. This recipe comes from eatingwell.com and because it’s made with cornbread instead of traditional bread, it’s gluten free. If cornbread stuffing isn’t for you, simply substitute the cornbread for traditional bread.
- 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage (about 4 links), casings removed. (You can obviously leave this out or you can use pork. I’m a chorizo fan myself.)
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 tsp salt
- ground pepper to taste
- 2 lbs prepared cornbread cut into 3/4 inch cubes (about 12 cups)
- 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
- 1 TBS chopped fresh sage
- 1 2/3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
Prehead the oven to 325. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat (breaking up the sausage) until browned. Add onion and celery, cover and reduce heat cooking while stirring occasionally. After roughly 10 minutes, transfer the mixture to a large bow. Season with salt and pepper.
Next bring the broth to simmer in a saucepan. Pour 1 cup over the stuffing mixture and toss gently. Add as much of the remaining broth as needed, 1/2 cup at a time, until the stuffing feels moist but not wet. Spoon the stuffing into the prepared pan and cover with foil. Bake the stuffing until thoroughly heated, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Corn Muffins
Courtesy of glutenfreegoddess.com
Whether you make these to accompany your meal or have them as dessert, I couldn’t pass up on this recipe. Pumpkin…corn…muffins…what’s not to love?
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup olive oil (or coconut oil for a stronger flavor and an even healthier substitute)
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup gluten free cornmeal
- 1 cup gluten free pancake/baking mix
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with paper cups. Whisk eggs til frothy, add oil, whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk well. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice and whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, the baking mix, baking powder, and salt. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir by hand just enough to make a smooth batter. Drop the batter by the spoonfuls into the 12 muffin cups.
Bake on center rack for 20 minutes until muffins are firm to touch and golden. Check with a toothpick if necessary–if it comes out clean, muffins are done.
Place the muffins on a wire rack to cool (about 5 minutes) and then remove from tin and place back on rack to continue cooling.
Makes 12 muffins. Serve warm.
Want something really fun and not-so-traditional to hold your guests over as they’re watching the big game and you’re finishing up dinner preperations? Try this spicy hummus recipe from glutenfreegoddess.com.
Jalapeno and Lime Hummus Appetizer
(Can be made gluten free and paleo)
I love hummus and I love the spicy kick that this recipe brings to the table. Not a fan of spice? No worries–I offer substitutions at the bottom of the recipe.
- 1-15 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
- the juice of one large lime
- 1-2 TBS peanut butter (all natural of course)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 large TBS jalapeno peppers, drained
- 1-2 TBS olive oil
- 2 TBS fresh cilantro
- a pinch of cumin, red pepper flakes and sea salt to taste
Combine all the ingredients until smooth. Recipe makes about 3 cups. Serve with vegetable slices, pita chips, or gluten free crackers.
- Sweet red peppers for jalapenos
- 2/3 c Tahini for peanut butter
- 2 c chopped zucchini for cheakpeas/garbanzo beans
Additional add-ons: Roasted pine nuts and/or extra garlic
Even easier: Buy Sabra’s Roasted Pine Nut Hummus. Sure, it’s not as fun as making your own, but if you’re in a time crunch, this is my FAVE hummus. I buy the large container at Costco and just scoop it into a bowl. No one has to know it’s from the store!