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10 Clean & Delicious Sides for Everyone at Your Thanksgiving Table

By Carrie Havranek
October 31, 2020
Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

Chances are, this Thanksgiving is going to look at little different from Thanksgivings past — so why should your sides be the same old sides, swimming in some combination of sugar and butter… or both? After all, the sides are where you can really experiment and let your culinary colors shine. They’re also where you can make changes that will make a big difference in how your meal tastes — better! fresher! lighter! — and how you feel later in the day — better! fresher! lighter! And, perhaps most important of all, sides are where you can truly accommodate every eater at the table so that no one will feel left out.

Here are 10 clean and delicious sides to get you inspired, from cornbread stuffing that’s gluten-free and vegan and bread-free stuffing balls (yes, please!) to slow cooker Brussel sprouts and cauliflower-sweet potato mash.

But, First: What Makes a Recipe “Clean and Delicious”?

At Clean Plates, we believe that eating more whole, plant-based, nutrient-dense foods is the foundation of good health. We also believe that good health shouldn’t feel like a sacrifice, nor should it involve spending loads of money or a crazy amount of time in the kitchen. All of that goes into what we call “clean and delicious.” We’ve chosen recipes that avoid sugar or opt for unrefined sugars like maple syrup; that limit dairy and processed foods; and that reduce or eliminate gluten — but we’ve also chosen recipes that are simple to make, wallet-friendly, and truly delicious.

roasted root veggies

Photo Credit: The Heritage Cook

1. Maple Roasted Root Vegetables from The Heritage Cook

This dish gets points for being delicious, beautiful, and super-duper simple: It’s just red beets, carrots, potatoes, and fennel, plus some rosemary, olive oil, and a little bit of maple syrup. That’s it. Feel free to improvise.

Pro tip: If you have maple vinegar, use it in this dish—it adds a layer of maple flavor but also that slightly sour hit that vinegar provides. If you don’t have maple vinegar, don’t sweat it.

garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes

Photo Credit: Nom Nom Paleo

2. Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes from Nom Nom Paleo

These couldn’t be easier to make — and, even better, you can make them a couple days ahead of time, and reheat on Thanksgiving.

Vegan Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing

Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

3. Vegan Cornbread Stuffing from Minimalist Baker

What is Thanksgiving without stuffing? This vegan and gluten-free version, made with cornbread, pecans, onions, leeks, and fresh cranberries, is the best of fall in a stuffing that won’t leave you totally stuffed.

slow cooker brussel sprouts

Photo Credit: Damn Delicious

4. Slow Cooker Balsamic Brussels Sprouts from Damn Delicious

Any time you can free up your oven on Thanksgiving is a win in our book. If you want, make the balsamic reduction ahead of time to make the holiday even easier.

quinoa acorn squash

Photo Credit: Jeanette’s Healthy Living

5. Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed With Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf from Jeannette’s Healthy Living

Acorn squash looks so pretty when it’s halved and filled with quinoa pilaf with mushrooms, sage, thyme, and all the things you’d traditionally put in a bread-based stuffing. It’s also super- tasty and loaded with fiber and protein.

6. Homemade Cranberry Sauce from Well Plated

Is it even Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? We say no — and we love the way mouth-puckering way cranberry and orange work together, with just a wee bit of honey to balance the tartness, in this recipe from Well Plated. Make this a couple of days ahead of time; cranberry sauce tends to develop depth when you do.

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mashed Potatoes

Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry

7. Pressure Cooker Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash from The Gracious Pantry

This sweet potato dish that goes savory-sweet with onion and garlic and the butter is to taste — which means you use ghee, vegan butter, or a good grass-fed organic option, or skip the butter altogether. This recipes also uses the Instant Pot, which means you’ve freed up a burner and some oven space.

Butternut Squash Apple Salad

Photo Credit: Two Peas and Their Pod

8. Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Salad from Two Peas and Their Pod

Who says you can’t have salad at Thanksgiving? Seems revolutionary, right? Much of this hearty salad can be made ahead of time and assembled at the last minute.

Green Bean Salad

Photo Credit: Jessica Gavin

9. Green Beans and Almonds from Jessica Gavin

Good veggies need very little accompaniment, and green beans are definitely one of them. No mushy green beans here!

Bread-Free Stuffing Balls

Photo Credit: Oh She Glows

10. Bread-Free Stuffing Balls from Oh She Glows

With lentils, oats, flax, cranberries, kale, and more, you won’t miss traditional stuffing after eating these flavorful bites.

Your turn: What are your favorite Thanksgiving sides?

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