Fall brings lots of opportunities for gatherings and dinners with family and friends. Fall gatherings can be emotionally taxing for many reasons, but they are usually compounded by excessive consumption of foods that are not always the healthiest.
Making healthy food choices around the holidays can help balance some of the emotional pitfalls these days can bring. Here are some ideas for healthy side dishes you can serve along with your turkey. They will be appealing to the palate, but they won’t leave you with a food hangover afterward.
Healthy Fall Casserole Recipes
Casseroles can be healthy and convenient for large crowds because you can prepare them ahead of time. Here are a couple of options:
Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potatoes are a naturally sweet and delicious comfort food, and they, like all orange foods, also contain stress-relieving vitamin B. The nuts in this recipe help increase the protein to balance out the carbohydrates.
- 5 large sweet potatoes
- 1 stick of salted butter
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Cut the potatoes in half length-wise, put them in a roasting pan and bake at 400 degrees until soft. When the potatoes cool, peel them and discard the skins. Mash the potatoes in a large bowl with 6 tablespoons of butter and spread the mixture in a large baking pan. Melt the remaining butter, mix it with the chopped pecans and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and serve right away.
Healthy Tip: To make it even healthier, leave out the butter and add a teaspoon of salt and half a cup of low fat milk to the sweet potatoes instead.
Sausage, Sage and Apple Stuffing Casserole
The nutrition in this casserole comes in the form of fiber and natural sugars with a mix of various vegetables and herbs for flavoring. The sausage brings protein to the dish, along with a hearty flavor.
- 8 cups bread cubed (try whole grain or other heartier choices)
- 6 ounces mild Italian sausage
- 1 cup each of onion, fennel and celery, all chopped
- 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons each of garlic, sage and parsley, all chopped
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup apple cider
- 2 eggs
Put bread cubes in a large bowl. Sauté sausage and add it to the bowl. Sauté the onions, fennel and celery and add to the bowl. Then add the garlic, sage and parsley. Mix in chicken stock and cider. Beat eggs and stir them into the mixture. Spread stuffing out in a large baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees until the top is brown.
Casseroles are a great way to serve leftovers from dinner, too. You can make your own unique combination of meat, starch and vegetable from the dinner leftovers, then bake it and serve.
Healthy Tip: Use turkey sausage instead of pork for an even healthier dish!
Healthy Side Dishes
For many people, fall is all about the turkey. You can add in these healthy side dishes to be sure everyone gets the nutrition they need, and to give you options for low-carb dinner additions.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is another healthy food that is delicious and comforting at the same time — and when roasted, it makes an excellent side dish.
- 1 whole butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and cube the squash and put it in a large mixing bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture out on a shallow baking dish or cookie sheet with sides. Bake at 425 degrees until tender.
Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
The bacon in this dish is so delicious, people forget they are eating Brussels sprouts.
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 strips of bacon
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Chop the bacon into very small pieces and cook it slowly in a large sauté pan. Just before the bacon bits become crispy, add the onion and Brussels sprouts. Cook on medium heat until the sprouts are tender. Stir in the vinegar, remove from heat and serve.
Healthy Alternatives Abound for Your Feast
There are several things you can do to make your standard fall side dishes a little healthier. For example, instead of making your tossed salad with iceberg lettuce, which has no nutritional value, load it up with darker salad greens like spinach and kale. Switch from a creamy salad dressing to an olive oil-based dressing. It can carry just as much flavor, but it contains less fat.
Mashed potatoes may be a staple at your fall table, but you can cut down on the added fat there, too. Try reserving some of the water after the potatoes are boiled. Use some of that water when you whip the potatoes. They will be just as fluffy as if you used cream.
You don’t have to regret your food choices this fall. With a little creativity, your holiday dishes can be nutritious and full of flavor — and won’t leave you feeling miserable.