Home Features Must-Try Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Part Two

Must-Try Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Part Two

Thanksgiving is here, and there’s plenty to be thankful for. Despite the turkey being the main attraction, Thanksgiving side dishes tend to make-or-break the dinner. By adding healthy sides like greens and squash, you’re adding flavor and helping your body to digest – which is important for all those extra helpings – while also providing a host of nutrients and vitamins.

That’s why we’ve put together a two-part series highlighting healthy Thanksgiving side dishes (in case you missed it, you can catch up with Part One right here).

More From Best of NJ

Easy Swaps For Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Making small switches like using sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes can actually make a big difference. In fact, one serving of sweet potatoes contains 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and 400% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A, which is important for healthy vision and an improved immune system. It also helps regulate blood pressure and increases metabolism.

Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes: Sweet Potatoes

This year, mix up your mashed potatoes (or add another potato to the mix) with a spin on mashed sweet potatoes from Natalie Colledge, owner and culinary director of Plum On Park in Montclair. She shared a recipe with us that takes one of the season’s sweetest vegetables and turns it into a smoky side dish.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe #1 Smokey Sweet Potato Puree

Serve under Pork Chop with Apple Cider Sage Skillet Sauce. (Full recipe below.)
Courtesy of Natalie Colledge, Owner/Culinary Director of Plum On Park, Montclair
Serves 2


1 large sweet potato, peeled cut into 6 chunks
1/4-cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika powder
Salt and pepper


  • Place sweet potato in medium pot and cover with cold water. Boil until tender.
  • Drain water from potato and return to now-empty pan. Mash potato chunks and add sour cream and paprika. Stir to combine.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pork Chop with Apple Cider Sage Skillet Sauce

Serves 2


2- 1 1/2” thick bone-in pork chops
1- Crispin apple peeled, cored, sliced into 1/4” thick wedges
1/2 small onion finely chopped
1/2-cup apple cider
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil (divided)
2 tbsp. cold butter (cut into 4 pieces)
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
Salt and pepper

Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes: pork_chop


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Salt and pepper both sides of chops. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil until shimmering. Add chops and sear for 5 minutes on each side.
  • Remove skillet from heat and transfer chops to an oven-safe platter. Place platter with chops in oven for 10-12 minutes until done cooking. While chops are in the oven, return pan to medium high heat.
  • Add remaining tbsp. grapeseed oil, onion and apple slices, and sauté until onions are translucent and apples are tender.
  • Increase heat to high and add apple cider and sage. Cook until cider reduces by half, approximately 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, waiting for each piece to melt before adding the next. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove chops from oven, adding them and any accumulated juices to skillet with apple cider glaze.
  • Serve chops with smokey sweet potato puree, spooning skillet sauce over chops.

Another great addition to the Thanksgiving dinner table is winter squash. Heartier than its summer squash cousins, these gourds including butternut, delicata, acorn and kobucha. They come in all shapes and sizes, and despite their tough exterior, are nutritional stars. (One serving of butternut squash has 437% of the daily requirement of Vitamin A and a high level of carotenoid, potassium and fiber.)

To celebrate winter squash, Chef Robbie Felice of Viaggio Ristorante in Wayne combined everything the season had to offer into one delicious dish. The following recipe can be served as an appetizer for Thanksgiving or a showstopping side dish.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe #2: “Barnegat Bay” Scallops with Squash Caponata and Terre Bormane Aceto Balsamico

Courtesy of Chef Robbie Felice, Chef/Partner of Viaggio Ristorante, Wayne
Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes: scallops-with-caponata

Squash Caponata


1 medium butternut squash
1 medium delicata squash
3 cups rice wine vinegar
1 medium acorn squash
1 medium kobocha squash
3 cups ver jus
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup currants


  • Remove skin off squashes and dice small. (Keep each squash separate, as they will have different cooking times.)
  • Sauté each type of squash separately to golden brown color, but with bite.
  • De-glaze each batch with rice wine vinegar and season with kosher salt. Mix different sautéed squash together.
  • Add the golden raisins and currants to a small pot with ver jus and reduce until ver jus is almost gone. Add mixed squash to golden raisins and currants. Season to taste.

Butternut Squash Puree


2 Large butternut squashes
1 quart of heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
4 allspice
4 cloves
10 black peppercorns
4 juniper berries
Kosher salt to taste
Brown sugar to taste


  • Remove skin off butternut squash and medium dice. Place the squash in a medium sized pot with the heavy cream.
  • Make a sachet of all the dry spices with cheesecloth. Place sachet of spices into the pot and submerged under the squash and heavy cream.
  • Cover the pot and cook on medium heat until squash is tender. Once tender, remove sachet of spices and puree in blender.
  • Season with brown sugar and salt to taste depending on how sweet the butternut squash is.

Lemon Brown Butter


3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice


  • Place butter in a saucepan on medium heat until the butter just starts to turn a golden brown.
  • Take off the heat and add lemon juice. Reserve to the side to use to glaze scallops.

Spaghetti Squash Crisp


1 Large spaghetti squash
Olive Oil


  • Cut the spaghetti squash in half and roast in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until soft. Remove the squash from its skin and place into a dehydrator. (If you do not have a dehydrator, you can use an oven on low temp at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.)
  • Spread the squash evenly and season with granulated sugar and salt. Let the squash be until firm and crispy like a chip.
  • Heat up butternut squash puree. Sauté squash caponata with olive oil until hot.
  • Season scallops with salt and sear in a hot pan (the trick is to not touch or mess with them, let the heat do the work). Finish cooking scallops with butter and baste. (Be careful to not overcook!)

Rustic Thankgiving Dinner

Plate squash puree in desired fashion. Plate squash caponata along with scallops over puree. Top scallops with a touch of lemon brown butter. Finish the plate by adding your toasted walnuts, aceto balsamico and spaghetti squash crisps. Thanks for reading this recipe guide to healthy Thanksgiving side dishes!

Hero (Top) Feature Image: © evgenyb / Adobe Stock
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
JJAVA / Adobe Stock
Natalie Colledge / Plum On Park
Robbie Felice / Viaggio Ristorante

Join our Newsletter!

Become part of the Best of NJ community and get new restaurant updates, entertainment picks, and upcoming event details delivered straight to your inbox weekly!