Healthy Thanksgiving Sides

These are three of my favorite healthy hacks for three Thanksgiving staples – mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce. They have all the best qualities of the originals, with none of the downside.


I looooove to eat! But I hate feeling stuffed. The thing that always bugs me about Thanksgiving, is that there are usually 10 different types of carbs, all baked, and one protein – the bird. Which leads to feeling very very heavy and full. Yuck.


I would rather have fewer dishes, make them lighter, while super tasty and delicious so I can savor them in moderate amounts and still have room for dessert!

Healthy Thanksgiving Sides


Smashed “Potatoes”

serves 8

This “potato” recipe is full of protein and fiber, and tons of nutrition. I have nothing against potatoes – love’em! But I would rather have my carbs for dessert. This dish is light and airy and low cal.

3 cups cooked white beans (two 15 oz cans – Eden brand is best, or 1 cup dry)

2 cups celery root – peeled, medium dice

4 cups cauliflower – chopped roughly into chunks

1 T roasted garlic

1 tsp herb salt – I use Herbamare for the best flavor

1 T olive oil – optional

  • if using dry beans make sure to soak and cook them ahead of time, if using canned beans, drain, rinse and place on top of the steaming veggies to heat
  • roast a bulb of garlic in the oven until soft*
  • steam celery root and cauliflower until soft (celery root on the bottom)
  • make sure the veggies and beans are well drained with no excess water and then put everything into a food processor and process until fluffy and smooth
  • can be kept warm in the oven if necessary

*To roast the garlic: preheat the oven to 400F, remove the loose papery outer layer, cut about 1/4 inch off the top of the bulb – just enough to expose the cloves, drizzle 2 tsps of olive oil over the cuts and rub in, wrap in tin foil, and bake for 30 minutes – or until the bulb is soft. To use just squeeze the cloves out of their skins.


Porcini and Red Wine Gravy

makes 3 cups

Gotta have a nice thick rich gravy, and since my T-day is usually vegan, this can be tricky! The recipe below is pretty easy, and packed with deep rich umami flavors because of the caramelized veggies, mushrooms, and wine.

2 cups onions – diced

2 cup carrots – diced

2 T olive oil and a little extra if needed

1/2 tsp salt

  • sauté veggies/salt in olive oil over medium high heat in frying pan, let them brown, stir to deglaze, and repeat until caramelized, adding olive oil as needed

2 cups water

1 cup red wine – something rich and ripe

3 T arrowroot powder – this is more nutritious than cornstarch and is used the same way, most grocery stores have it – Bob’s Red Mill is a good one.

3-4 T Bragg Liquid Aminos

2 T porcini powder – you can find this on Amazon, or in gourmet and health food shops. 

  • mix the water and other ingredients together and pour over the browned veggies
  • stir until thickened and let simmer for 30 minutes, or until veggies are soft
  • place in a blender and pulse until smooth – thin if necessary with a little water, adjust seasonings and serve


Cranberry-Chive Aspic

serves 8 easily – makes 1 1/2 cups

Cranberry sauce is such a tradition! I have a certain fondness for the canned sugary loaf of red stuff we ate only on T-day  in my childhood. But at this point I would never eat the stuff! This is a really beautiful dish loaded with nutrition and a whole range of flavors.

1 cup apple ciderCranberry aspic 300

2 T maple syrup

4 T agar agar flakes – these are a substitute for gelatin, find them online or in health food stores

1 tsp salt

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup clementine segments – cut in half so you can set the wet side down on the mold

2 T chives – finely chopped

1 T red onion – finely chopped

2 T orange rind – finely chopped

2 tsp parsley – finely chopped

  • bring the cider, agar flakes, salt and maple syrup to a boil and stir until the flakes have completely dissolved
  • turn the flame off and add the cranberries
  • place in a blender and pulse until smooth
  • arrange the clementine segments in the bottom of a 3 cup (24 oz) mold
  • sprinkle the chopped herbs, orange rind, and onions over the clementines, and then pour the cranberry mixture over that
  • refrigerate for 1 hour or more  – turn out onto a decorative plate to serve
  • you may need to warm the outside of the mold to release the aspic onto the plate

Katherine Miller

Katherine is the founder and CEO of As a holistic health coach and master whole-foods chef, she specializes in health mastery for women in their prime, freeing them to fuel the life they love, and make their mark in the world.